From My Reading – November

All the great saints in history about whom I have read have been people who were so passionately in love with God that they were completely free to love other people in a deep, affective way, without any strings attached. True charity is gratuitous love, a love that gives gratuitously and receives gratuitously. It is following the first commandment that asks us to give everything we have to God and that makes the second commandment truly possible. . . .

We are touching here on the source of much of the suffering in our contemporary society. We have such a need for love that we often expect from our fellow human beings something that only God can give, and then we quickly end up being angry, resentful, lustful, and sometimes even violent. As soon as the first commandment is no longer truly the first, our society moves to the edge of self-destruction”  (Henry Nouwen, You are the Beloved).

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“Contemplation is a kind of seeing that is much more than mere looking because it also includes recognizing and thus appreciating. The contemplative mind does not tell us what to see but teaches us how to see what we behold.

Contemplation allows us to see the truth of things in their wholeness. It is a mental discipline and gift that detaches us, even neurologically, from our addiction to our habitual ways of thinking and from our left brain, which likes to think it is in control. We stop believing our little binary mind—which strips things down to two choices and then usually identifies with one of them—and begin to recognize the inadequacy of that limited way of knowing reality. Relying solely on the binary mind is a recipe for superficiality. Only the contemplative, or the deeply intuitive, can start venturing out into much broader and more open-ended horizons” (Richard Rohr in Daily Meditation,  October 20, 2029). 

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“You cannot believe in or practice unitive consciousness as long as you exclude and marginalize others—whether it is women or people of different sexual orientations or people of religious or ethnic minorities or, in my experience, people with intellectual disabilities. My work is largely with and in support of people who have significant vulnerabilities because of intellectual disability. In many cultures these people are excluded and oppressed, though often unconsciously, even more so than other marginalized groups. . . . They are thought to be hopeless. Mostly they are ignored and forgotten.

For twenty years I have been mentored by these same people. Some might not be the best-spoken, the most articulate writers, the most celebrated thinkers, the fastest runners. And yet, despite all of that, I have met person after person who emanates a kind of radiant light. After a while, even the densest of us may have our eyes opened to that something which transcends all superficial distractions of disability: the unimaginable beauty of every person. That beauty is ours for the seeing if only we have the eyes to see, if only we pay attention” (Tim Shriver in “Ripples in the World: CAC Multipliers,” the Mendicant, vol. 4,no. 4, Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 3-4.)

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We need ways of navigating our differences that deepen our curiosity, deepen our friendship, deepen our capacity to disagree, deepen the argument of being alive. This is what we need. This is what will save us. This is the work of peace. This is the work of imagination” (by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, quoted in the OnBeing newsletter,Oct. 18=9, 2019).

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