There are messages that come to us from many sources. When one resonates, as this one did for me this morning, I know it has found its target in my heart and in my mind. Each of us already knows and contains within our answers to our deepest questions and it is words like these that hit home and bring them into our conscious minds. As I have heard so many times, “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation have been great teachers for this humble student.
The following are Fr. Rohr’s words this morning as I received them, unedited.
Change Comes from the Inside
Monday, July 27, 2020As we come to know our soul gift more clearly, we almost always have to let go of some other “gifts” so we can do our one or two things with integrity. Such letting go frees us from always being driven by what has been called the “tyranny of the urgent.”  Soon urgency is a way of life, and things are not done peacefully from within. What if we choose to simply do one or two things wholeheartedly in our lives? That is all God expects and all we can probably do well. Too much good work becomes a violence to ourselves and, finally, to those around us.
Let’s just use our different gifts to create a unity in the work of service (Ephesians 4:12–13), and back one another up, without criticism or competition. Only in our peaceful, mutual honoring do we show forth the glory of God.
The Gospel is not about being nice; it is about being honest and just, and the world doesn’t like those two things very much. Our job is to learn how to be honest, but with love and respect. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that before we go out to witness for justice, we have to make sure that we can love and respect those with whom we disagree.
Imagine the surrender necessary for those who have been oppressed for hundreds of years to continue to work peacefully for justice. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can do it without contemplation. How do we get to that deep place where we do not want to publicly expose, humiliate, or defeat our opponents, but rather work, as King said, for win-win situations? Seeking win-win solutions, not win-lose, takes a high level of spiritual development and demands spiritual conversion.
When we are hurt, we want to hurt back. When we are put down, we want to put down the opponent. This is our ego’s natural defense mechanism. We all move toward the ego, and we even solidify it as we get older if something doesn’t expose it for the lie that it is—not because it is bad, but because it thinks it is the whole and only thing! We change from inside—from the power position to the position of vulnerability and solidarity, which gradually changes everything.
True contemplation is the most subversive of activities because it undercuts the one thing that normally refuses to give way–our natural individualism and narcissism. Once we are freed from our narcissism that thinks we are the center of the world, or that our rights and dignity have to be defended before other people’s rights and dignity, we can finally live and act with justice and truth. People don’t really change by themselves. God changes us, if we can expose ourselves to God at a deep level.