BOOK OF THE MONTH: WONDROUS ENCOUNTERS BY RICHARD ROHR

Rohr Lent coverWeek Four: What Is Life and What Is Death?

This month at The Contemplative Writer, we’re reading Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr. Rohr is leading us through some Scripture meditations for the season of Lent.

The Scripture reading for yesterday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, is John 11:1-45, and its theme is key: life and death. Rohr writes:

Humans are the  only creatures who have knowledge of their own death . . . This places humans in a state of anxiety and insecurity from our early years.

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On this last Sunday before Palm Sunday, we dare to look at the “last enemy,” death. And the only way we can dare to part the curtain and view death is to be told about our resurrection from it!

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We get a foretaste of resurrection in the raising of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John. Many of us are familiar with this story: in calling forth Lazarus from the grave, Jesus conquers death! I love what Rohr emphasizes about this passage:

[I]n a final brilliant finale to the story, he [Jesus] invites the onlookers to join him in making resurrection happen: “Move the stone away!. . . Unbind him, and let him go free!” It seems that we have a part to play in creating a culture of life and resurrection. We must unbind one another from our fears and doubts about the last enemy, death.

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The stone to be moved away is always our fear of death, the finality of death, any blindness that keeps us from seeing that death is merely a part of the Larger Mystery called Life. It does not have the final word.

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Scripture Reading:

‘This sleep is not to end in death, but is instead to reveal the glory of God’. . . . With a sigh that came straight from the heart . . . He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Move the stone away! . . . Lazarus, come forth!’ . . . ‘Now, you unbind him and let him go free.’ — Jon 11:4, 34, 38, 43-44

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Even as we prepare to accompany Jesus to his own death during this Lenten season, may we always remember that he is the resurrection and the life.

Read Wondrous Encounters here.

BOOK OF THE MONTH: WONDROUS ENCOUNTERS BY RICHARD ROHR

Rohr Lent coverWeek 3: Could the “New” Thing Be Inclusion?

This month at The Contemplative Writer, we’re reading Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr. Rohr is leading us through some Scripture meditations for the season of Lent.

In one of his meditations, Rohr discusses the Scripture readings for Monday of the fourth week of Lent (Isaiah 65:17-21 and John 4:43-54). Rohr teases out two themes from these readings: the big patterns of God’s story and the wonderful message of inclusion.

About the prophet Isaiah, Rohr writes:

Prophets are seers of the big patterns; they see what is always and forever true . . . One of the big patterns is that God’s message always gets wider and more universal, despite our best attempts to limit it.

When Isaiah speaks of the “new heavens and a new earth,”

he is not so much talking about concrete particulars as he is talking about universals, the big things that are always true, and might also be true here or there.

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And what does this tell us about today’s passage in the Gospel of John, when Jesus heals the son of an outsider (a royal official and a non-Jew)? Rohr writes that it illustrates one of the big patterns of God’s story:

The circle of the biblical revelation keeps widening to create that “new earth” of Isaiah, and within a century a people who will call themselves catholic or universal. Here comes everybody! One wonders how we ever made religion into any kind of exclusionary system whatsoever when the vast majority of Jesus’ healings seem to happen to the excluded ones and maybe even the unworthy ones.

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Scripture Readings:

The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create. — Isaiah 65:17-18

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The man put his trust in the word that Jesus had spoken to him, and set of for home . . . He and his whole household thereupon became believers. — John 4:50, 53

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May we rejoice in the ever-widening vision of God this season.

Read Wondrous Encounters here.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

This week, we’re exploring posts and podcasts on Lent, writing, and #WOCwithpens. Do you have an article/post to recommend? Please let me know! Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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There is a Burning Bush Inside of Me via Tasha Burgoyne (a powerful post on embracing our weakness with God’s power) #WOCwithpens

Walking in the Jesus Way: A Lenten Journey via Diana Trautwein (Scripture and poetry each day for Lent)

3 Companions for the Wilderness via Lisa Colon DeLay and Lisa Deam (are you in the wilderness this Lent? Listen to Lisa DeLay and I talk about the desert fathers and two medieval mystics who can guide our journey)

Love Matters More Than Logic or Experience (Lectio Divina Diligens for the Third Sunday of Lent) via Carl McColman (Carl takes us through a lectio divina exercise based on a Scripture reading)

What keeps the darkness via Glynn Young (a poem after 2 Corinthians 12)

The Case for Writing in Coffee Shops: Why Malcolm Gladwell Does It, and You Should Too via Open Culture (does a coffee shop offer just the right kind of distraction for writing? Where do you write best?)

BOOK OF THE MONTH: WONDROUS ENCOUNTERS BY RICHARD ROHR

Rohr Lent coverThis month on The Contemplative Writer, we’re reading Wondrous Encounters. Richard Rohr is leading us through a series of Scripture meditations for Lent.

Rohr’s meditation for the fourth Sunday of Lent (which is this Sunday) is about blindness, light, and seeing. First, Rohr diagnoses the human condition:

Because humans cannot see their own truth very well, they do not read reality very well either. We all have our tragic flaws and blind spots. Humans always need more “light” or enlightenment about themselves and about the endless mystery of God.

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Good news! The Gospel of John speaks into this condition. In John 9, Jesus heals a man born blind. Rohr makes the following observations (along with others) about this Gospel reading:

The “man born blind” is the archetype for all of us at the beginning of life’s journey.

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Spirituality is about seeing. Sin is about blindness, or as Saint Gregory of Nyssa will say, “Sin is always a refusal to grow.”

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The one who knows little, learns much (what we call “beginner’s mind”) and those who have all their answers already, learn nothing.

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Scripture Readings

“I do not know whether [Jesus] is a sinner or not, I only know this much, I was once blind, and now I see.” — John 9:25

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“I came into the world to divide it, to make the sightless see and to reveal to those who think they see it all that they are blind.” — John 9:39

May we all learn to see a little better this Lenten season.

Read Wondrous Encounters here.

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites, my weekly round-up of great finds on the web. We are in the second week of Lent, so today we have some posts and a podcast to help us in this season. How are you keeping Lent this year?

I also wanted to share some wonderful posts by #WOCwithpens, and an exploration of how we can learn to ask questions and receive God with our hands open.

Enjoy, and be blessed.

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Breathe . . . via Colletta Rhoads (wow, I love this beautiful poem!) #WOCwithpens

Interview with Piper Huguley via Gena Thomas (author Piper Huguley talks about POC in publishing and gives advice for writers) #WOCwithpens

I am 200 Percent. I am Chinese-American. via Kaitlin Ho Givens (trusting the Creator that he made us exactly the way he wants us to be) #WOCwithpens

Simple Advice for Christians: Trust Your Instincts via Ed Cyzewski (if you have questions about the “Christian machine,” you’re not crazy . . . or alone)

Meditation Monday — Spiritual Practices for Lent via Christine Sine (some disciplines for the season)

The Examen with Father James Martin, S. J.: The Second Week of Lent (this podcast leads us through a traditional Jesuit prayer)

When My Heart is Heavy, and the Days are Hard via April Yamasaki (a really unique way to meditate on Psalm 23, with a writing prompt that’s great for Lent)

 

BOOK OF THE MONTH: WONDROUS ENCOUNTERS BY RICHARD ROHR

Rohr Lent coverOur Book of the Month is Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent by Richard Rohr. In this meditative book, Rohr takes us through the Lenten season with a meditation and Scripture for each day.

One of the meditations for the second (full) week in Lent is entitled “Good Mirroring and Bad Mirroring.” In this meditation, Rohr talks about humans knowing themselves through the gaze of others.

A good parent, like God, naturally blesses the child through their receptive and affirming face. It is the eternal blessing to the children of Israel, “May Yahweh let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May Yahweh uncover her face to you and bring you peace!” (Numbers 6:25).

In the reading for the day from the Gospel of Luke, Rohr writes, we see this divine mirroring at work:

Receive God’s compassion, and you will be able to be compassionate . . . Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Give and it shall be given to you. Jesus describes a perfect reciprocity between what we have received or not received and how we will give or not give.

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Once you know that you are inside Trinitarian Love, you are connected to an infinite Source, and one is never sure who is doing the giving and who is doing the receiving. It is all Flow and Outpouring. It is you and yet it is God. Thus Jesus ends this Gospel by a wonderful image of overflowing abundance.

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Gospel Reading:

Full measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap, because the measure you measure out with will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:38

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May God’s overflowing abundance be yours this season.

Read Wondrous Encounters here.

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

This week, I found such a wonderful variety of posts: some for Lent, some celebrating #WOCwithpens (“women of color with pens”), and a poem about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Also, writing — we can’t forget to look at our writing.
I hope you’ll be blessed by these posts, as I was.

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Still {For the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting} via Christian Hubbard (a poetic response to the tragedy in Florida)

Citizens of Heaven {Guest post by Alice William} via Alice William and Kate Motaung (“Heavenly citizenship breaks barriers and unites us all in Christ.”) #WOCwithpens

Watching Black Panther With God via Patricia Raybon (a powerful reflection: “When the movie stopped…my question still remained: Who does GOD say that I am?”) #WOCwithpens

With a Puff via Mihee Kim-Kort (a beautiful audio Lenten reflection) #WOCwithpens

I’m Not Fine via Abby Norman (on giving up self-sufficiency for Lent)

Field Notes on Praying the Hours via Traci Rhoades (starting a new practice for Lent)

Seven Tips for Getting Started With the Divine Office via Carl McColman (another post on getting started with this worthwhile practice)

4 Lies That Are Keeping You From Writing a Book via David Safford (read this post and gain commitment and confidence; there’s even a practice at the end)

 

 

CONTEMPLATIVE HISTORY: ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM ON FASTING

Among the practices we associate with Lent, fasting usually tops the list. Fasting from food and delicacies can help Christians remember the sacrifices of Jesus and can also be a form of preparation for Easter, the holiest day of the year.

St. John Chrysostom (349-407), preacher in the early Church, bids us be careful about fasting. He cautions against boasting and asks if we have remembered to fast not just from food but also from some of our more pernicious behaviors. In one of his homilies, Chrysostom writes:

It is common for every one to ask in Lent, how many weeks each has fasted; and some may be heard saying they have two, others three, and others that they have fasted the whole of the weeks. But what advantage is it, if we have gone through the fast devoid of works? If another says, “I have fasted the whole of Lent,” you should say, “I had an enemy, but I was reconciled; I had a custom of evil-speaking, but I put a stop to it; I had a custom of swearing, but I have broken through this evil practice.”

I love what Scot McKnight calls this “full-orbed” view of fasting. Here’s another taste (if you’ll forgive the pun):

Do not just let your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast by being pure from theft and avarice. Let the feet fast by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles . . . Let the mouth fast as well from disgraceful speeches and railing.

When we consider that fasting can include taking pity on the poor (which Chrysostom mentions in another passage) and being reconciled with our enemy, it can even be a justice issue.

In what ways might you consider fasting this season?

Sources: You can read about fasting and St. John Chrysostom here, and read the full text of some of his homilies here.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites, where each week I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. Today, I especially want to share some posts to help us begin our journey through Lent. And I’m continuing to highlight the talented writing of #WOCwithpens (“women of color with pens”).

Dig deep, and may God bless you as you journey through the Lenten season.

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Was Blind, But Now I See: My Sankofa Story via Nilwona Nowlin (a journey to Ghana and the hard work of reconciliation)

Caught Between Two Languages: Unlocking discoveries to God and family via (writing as discovery, language as distance)

The Making (A Lenten Poem) via Prasanta Verma (read this beautiful poem for Lent)

On Lent and What To Do About It via Tina Osterhouse (check out this list of resources for Lent, including a devotional to which Tina contributed)

The Wilderness Is Where Christians Go to (Eventually) Move Forward via Ed Cyzewski (a step that uncertain evangelicals can take, which happens to coincide well with the season of Lent; while you’re there, take a look at Ed’s new book)

Midlife Is Like Lent via Michelle Van Loon (on a season of life that carries with it a reminder that we are dust)

Dani Shapiro On the Hard Art of Balancing Writing and Social Media via Dani Shapiro (on sorting out the quiet from the noise…good for writers…good for Lent…warning: spicy language in this post)

CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: ST. BENEDICT ON THE OBSERVANCE OF LENT

The season of Lent has begun. How do we observe Lent in our lives? Do we give something up? If so, what? When I was growing up, my friend and I gave up Carmex (the medicated lip balm) some years. Strange, but true — and perhaps not the very best way to prepare for the resurrection of Jesus.

Perhaps the ancients of the Church can help us. In his Rule for Monasteries, written in the sixth century, St. Benedict (c. 480-547) includes a chapter entitled, “On the Observance of Lent.” He writes:

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Although the life of a monk
ought to have about it at all times
the character of a Lenten observance,
yet since few have the virtue for that,
we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent
the brethren keep their lives most pure
and at the same time wash away during these holy days
all the negligences of other times.
And this will be worthily done
if we restrain ourselves from all vices
and give ourselves up to prayer with tears,
to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.

 

During these days, therefore,
let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service,
as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink.
Thus everyone of his own will may offer God
“with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.
From his body, that is,
he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting;
and with the joy of spiritual desire
he may look forward to holy Easter.

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For his monks, St. Benedict advises the moderate withholding of food, drink, sleep or talking. But more than that, he has suggestions on what to add: prayer with tears, reading, and holy desire.

I especially like how Benedict ends this passage. During Lent, Christians are to look forward to Easter with the “joy of spiritual desire.” We know that Easter brings joy, but so should the darker season of Lent bring a somber and holy kind of joy — that of yearning for Christ, whose resurrection we await. May this unique joy be yours as you prepare for resurrection and renewal in your life.

Source