Dear monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Today we release Day 2 of our Love of Thousands prayer cycle. Our theme for morning prayer is wrestling with angels, inspired by the ancient biblical story of Jacob who wrestled with a powerful being all night and then demanded a blessing in the morning. I imagine, many of us have had those kinds of seasons of our lives where we walk away wounded but also with new gifts to carry forward.
The theme for evening prayer is we are all called to be saints. St. Paul wrote that we are all “called to be holy” and theologian Karl Rahner wrote that “The Christian of the future will be a mystic, or (they) will not exist at all.” Our journey in this life is to live into the fullness of who we were created to be and to grow in our love and compassion for others and the world.
This Friday, I am joined by Claudia Love Mair, my dear friend and conversation partner on our monthly Lift Every Voice book club podcast. We will be leading a mini-retreat together inspired by the three years of our work together, reading wonderful books by writers of color and speaking with the authors to expand the voices that shape us in the Christian mystical tradition. We have read and discussed 30 books so far and each one has been an invitation to deeper awareness of the systems we are ensnared by and a call to transformation.
While our retreat is called Decolonizing Contemplative Practice: Cultivating a Loving, Liberating Presence in the World, I recently saw a comment on social media about how we might consider de-centering colonization and use the term “re-indigenization” instead. Language matters, who we listen to matters, deepening our awareness of the ways we are tangled in systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism matters.
Our hope with this retreat is to weave together some threads that we have been discovering through our work together and also looking at contemplative practices that can help us to see more clearly and cultivate our presence in the world as lovers and a commitment to liberation for all people and beings.
As a white, cis-gender woman myself, I approach this work with great humility, I feel a tremendous sense of privilege at being able to have these conversations with so many wisdom teachers and allowing them to shape who I am becoming.
Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt describes contemplation as “a long loving look at the real.” The real includes both the beauty as well as the oppression and terror we experience as human beings. A commitment to justice and welcoming all to the table to feast is at the heart of the gospels. One of the things that draws me most to Jesus as a wisdom teacher is precisely his prioritizing the company of those who live on the edges of society. He seeks out those who are rejected and breaks bread with them.
Humility means I not only know I don’t have the answers, but I also seek out the support of those who can help to build a better world. It is disorienting to question everything you have been taught, the assumptions you make about the world, and the privileges which you have benefitted from.
As the great mystic and activist Howard Thurman writes,
“The sound of the genuine is flowing through you. Don’t be deceived and thrown off by all the noises that are a part even of your dreams, your ambitions, so that you don’t hear the sound of the genuine in you, because that is the only true guide that you will ever have, and if you don’t have that you don’t have a thing.”
But this sound of the genuine is not an individualistic goal. It is an unfolding that happens when we are enriched by conversations with those who can help us to expand our perspectives and see where our imagination has become narrow.
Join us this Friday to expand your imagination, become curious about the places of oppression you participate in unknowingly, and how contemplation can be an integral part of your journey toward liberation for all. Even if you have never listened to a single episode of our podcast you are most welcome.
The deadline to register for the October 30th Samhain ritual online is 12pm Eastern this Friday, October 27th!
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Image: Paid license with Canva