If contemplative prayer is such a counter-cultural spiritual discipline, how does one begin the practice? Richard Rohr explains that we must begin living lives of contemplative prayer by “living and fully accepting our reality” (Rohr 2003, 18). He continues to explain that “we do not find our own center; it finds us…we do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking” (Rohr 2003, 19). Our lives circling the circumference cannot be escaped – they are our stories. But the path around the circumference can indeed lead us to the core reality, “where we meet both our truest self and our truest God” (Rohr 2003, 19). It is true that we do not know what it means to be human, unless we know God, because we are created in His image. Thus, we cannot know God unless we know our own brokenness and suffering.
The notion that Plato and Aristotle posited of knowledge leading to our ability in controlling nature, we have reworked our societies to prosper in this way. We have even turned our spirituality into a results-based-faith. The lie is that successful churches are mega-churches, and that the same economies of the world echo God’s economies. But “spirituality is about seeing. It’s not about earning or achieving. Its about relationship rather than results or requirements” (Rohr 2003, 33).
You don’t need to push the river, because you are in it. The life is lived within us, and we learn how to say yes to that life. If we exist on a level where we can see how everything belongs, we can trust the flow and trust the life, the life so large and deep and spacious that it even includes its opposite, death. We must do this, because it is the only life available to us, as Paul wrote to the Colossians, “You have died [the small ego self], and the life you new have is hidden with Christ in God [the Godself]. When Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him” (Col. 3:3-4) (Rohr 2003, 34-35).
So if we are to truly believe that we are in Christ, we must assume that the totality of life’s experiences is contained in contemplative prayer. We must work to align our hearts and minds to this truth. We must accept that every moment is spiritual, that all ground is holy, and that every interaction has eternal significance.