Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

 

BEING PEACEFUL CHANGE
Inner Unity
Sunday, July 26, 2020

 
Before you speak of peace, you must first have it in your heart. —Francis of Assisi

Generations of Christians seem to have forgotten Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence. We’ve relegated visions of a peaceful kingdom to a far distant heaven. We hardly believed Jesus could have meant for us to turn the other cheek here and now. It took Gandhi, a Hindu, to help us apply Jesus’ peace-making in very practical ways. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), drawing from Gandhi’s writings and example, brought nonviolence to the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.


 

The nonviolence of Gandhi, like that of the civil rights activists, affirmed a unity of peaceful ends and means. Thomas Merton, reflecting on Gandhi’s nonviolence, wrote:

Non-violence was not simply a political tactic which was supremely useful and efficacious in liberating his people from foreign rule . . . the spirit of non-violence sprang from an inner realization of spiritual unity in himself. The whole Gandhian concept of non-violent action . . . is incomprehensible if it is thought to be a means of achieving unity rather than as the fruit of inner unity already achieved. [1]

 

Training in nonviolence helps us admit that our secret inner attitudes are often cruel, attacking, judgmental, and harsh. The ego seems to find its energy precisely by having something to oppose, fix, or change. When the mind can judge something to be inferior, we feel superior. We must recognize our constant tendency toward negating reality, resisting it, opposing it, and attacking it on the level of our mind. This is the universal addiction.

 

Authentic spirituality is always first about you—about allowing your own heart and mind to be changed. It’s about getting your own who right. Who is it that is doing the perceiving? Is it your illusory, separate, false self; or is it your True Self, who you are in God?

 

As Thomas Keating said:

We’re all like localized vibrations of the infinite goodness of God’s presence. So love is our very nature. Love is our first, middle, and last name. Love is all; not [love as] sentimentality, but love that is self-forgetful and free of self-interest.

 

This is also marvelously exemplified in Gandhi’s life and work. He never tried to win anything. He just tried to show love; and that’s what ahimsa [the Hindu principle of nonviolence out of respect for all living things] really means. It’s not just a negative. Nonviolence doesn’t capture its meaning. It means to show love tirelessly, no matter what happens. That’s the meaning of turning the other cheek [Matthew 5:39]. Once in a while you have to defend somebody, but it means you’re always willing to suffer first for the cause—that is to say, for communion with your enemies. If you overcome your enemies [through force and violence], you’ve failed. If you make your enemies your partners, God has succeeded. [2]

 

[1] Thomas Merton, “Gandhi and the One-Eyed Giant,” introduction to Gandhi on Non-violence: Selected Texts from Mohandas K. Gandhi’s Non-violence in Peace and War (New Directions: ©1964, 1965), 6.

[2] Thomas Keating, Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer, disc 5 (Franciscan Media: 2002), CD.

 

Image credit: Self-Portrait (detail), Malvin Gray Johnson, 1934, Smithsonian American Museum, Washington, DC, USA.

 

 


A Prayer for these Times (from ANZPB)

 

God of the present moment,

God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart;

bring hope and courage to us as we wait in uncertainty.

Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead.

Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,

for your will is health and wholeness;

you are God, and we need you. Amen. 


Be Thou My Vision #TheIrishBlessing
The Irish Blessing (Beannacht uile-Éireann) is combined with the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” written over 1000 years ago. It reminds us of the One to whom we should look in this time of pandemic, whose presence is our light, the source of our wisdom, in whom we find our treasure and where we find victory. Individuals from 300 Christian churches and organisations in Ireland submitted self-recordings of vocals and instruments which have been compiled to produce this music video. 



Parish Roll 2020
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We have been 'relaxed' about annual renewals of the Parish Roll over recent years, but with a building programme and important decisions to be made around that in the next two years, Vestry has agreed there needs to be an annual update of the Roll.

 


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