The Mystery of Vulnerability – 9 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

by Mark Votava

everything-belongs-richard-rohr-paperback-cover-art1. A gradual awakening and an occasional quieting

“The ordinary path is a gradual awakening and an occasional quieting, a passion for and a surrendering to, a caring and a not caring at all. It is both center and circumference, and I am finally not in control of either one. But we must begin somewhere. For most of us the beginning point is at the edges. This reality, felt and not denied, suffered and enjoyed, becomes the royal road to the center. In other words, reality itself, our reality, my limited and sometimes misinterpreted experience, still becomes the revelatory place for God. For some reason we seem to prefer fabricated realities to the strong and sensitizing face of what is.”

2. Relinquishing control

“Historic cultures saw grief as a time of incubation, transformation, and necessary hibernation. Yet this sacred space is the very space we avoid. When we avoid darkness, we avoid tension, spiritual creativity, and finally transformation. We avoid God, who works in the darkness – where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control.”

3. Humility and honesty

“But if we hear only what we already know, we simply cannot learn or grow. That attitude is a sure ticket to ignorance. Alcoholics say that without humility and honesty, nothing new happens. These virtues, humility and honesty, are the foundation of all spirituality, but they are hard won. Most of us have to crawl our way back to them. Usually we don’t go unless the pain of circumstances forces us…”

4. Fully present

“When we are fully present, we don’t accomplish presence with our head. Our whole being is present…”

5. A contemplative posture

“A contemplative posture faces reality… So there is ultimately nothing to fear. True religion is never about fear. It is always about moving beyond fear…”

6. The only response to life is a humble one

“The only people who grow in truth are those who are humble and honest… The only honest response to life is a humble one.”

7. God is not threatened by differences

“What we know about God is important, but what we do with what we know about God is even more important. Too often people think it is necessary that we all see God in the same way (which is impossible anyway), but what is really necessary is that we all follow God according to what God tells us. The fact that God has given us so many different faces and temperaments and emotions and histories shows us how God honors each unique journey and culture. God is not threatened by differences. It’s who we are.”

8. The mystery of vulnerability

“Apparently God is actually vulnerable, and we discover both God and ourselves in the mystery of that vulnerability. It is almost too much to imagine and doesn’t lend itself to organized religion at all.”

9. The man who cannot cry

“We men (and all Westerners) have to work backward. We need to take the low road of Jesus back to tears. The man who cannot cry is a savage. The man’s work is to learn to descend, to go down into the ‘tears of things.’”

Which quote do you like the best?

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