We’d stopped at The Big Sur Inn after several days in Carmel. I was talking with one of the perfectly hippie-esque staff and finally, reluctantly said, “well, back to the real world” and he responded, “no, man, THIS is the real world…” He was right, of course.
Today, may I walk in right paths, in God’s light. May peace prosper the steps of my family and friends, in city streets and buildings, and among all nations.
Today, may people stream from east and west to converge in God’s neighborhood. May nations labor to dismantle barricades. May our city be a just, peaceable center, united and vibrant. May my friends and relations strive for the good of each other, and may I remember I am neither higher nor lower than a servant.
Today, may east and west meet in my right and left hands, complementing, comprehending one another.
In my body, may north and south correspond, lifting my mind above worry, grounding my feet on the earth.
Today may I know what I am: created, not self-made, instructed to walk and work in God’s ways.
May I hammer old knives into new spoons, old enmities into love.
May I respect the least functional part of myself as surely as Jesus cherishes a paralytic slave and saves him with a word.
May the shriveled and disused part of my heart be bathed in God’s mercy today, that I might see sunlight for what it is: the gaze that beholds and heals us all.
In a banquet hall spacious enough for a whole world of nations, may I rest among neighbors and strangers, friends and relations.
May we feast among prophets on food grown in plowed mountain soil, reaped with weapons repurposed as tools.
Living in the earth-deposits of our history
Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate
Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power
The presence rolling through again
clears the shelves and shuts down the shops.
Friend of the soul, enemy of the soul,
why do you want mine?
Bring tribute from the village.
But the village is gone in your flood.
That cleared site is what I want.
Live in the opening where there is no door
to hide behind. Be pure absence.
In that state everything is essential.
The rest of this must be said in silence
because of the enormous difference between light
and words that try to say light.
Our suffering today is psychological, relational, and addictive; it is the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. This is a crisis of meaninglessness, which leads us to seek meaning in possessions, perks, prestige, and power-all things that lie outside the self. When these things fail to give us meaning, we turn to ingesting food, drink, or drugs, or we become mass consumers to fill the emptiness within. Bill Wilson and his Alcoholics Anonymous movement have shown us that the only way to stop seeking, needing, or abusing outer power is to find the real power within. The movement’s twelve-step program walks us back out of our addictive society. Like all steps toward truth and Spirit, the twelve steps lead us downward, to the power within, which the program rightly refers to as our Higher Power. – Richard Rohr
People who are oppressed or poor know every day that the current system is not just. They have little to lose and everything to gain by seeking justice. People on the top invariably support the status quo. Why wouldn’t they? It’s working for them. You will always want to “conserve” the system that has got you where you are. Without empathy for those Jesus called “the least of the brothers and sisters,” our politics on left or right will reflect self-interest and show little concern for the actual common good. Starting with the Exodus, and Yahweh’s identification with the enslaved Israelites, the Scriptures consistently show a rather clear bias toward the bottom of society as the necessary starting point. Any other starting point has far too much to protect and cannot hear or speak what is necessary for the common good. – Richard Rohr