Fr. Richard Rohr’s outstanding book “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” is for people who “hunger for a deeper spiritual life but don’t know what contemplation is.”
He does an excellent job explaining it, and, even more, he helps us to understand a form of prayerful living that’s not based on speech. I’ve seen the book called “meandering” in my reviews. I think it follows the forms and shapes of real life.
Repeatedly Rohr challenges us to move beyond our comfort zone to a deeper rest in God. There, he says, we can find the freedom to become all we can be. Only when we “live and see through God can everything belong.”
What does that mean? Rohr writes, “Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead-ends. There is no wasted energy. Everything is recycled. … I believe with all my heart that the Gospel is all about the mystery of forgiveness.”
Contemplative prayer can help us to see that God loves us as we are. And then we can better see who we are.
But it’s not easy. Rohr notes, “Our first response to anyone calling us to truth, greatness, goodness or morality at a higher level will be increased anxiety.”
Later on, he writes, “That’s what happens in the early stages of contemplation. We wait in silence. In silence all our usual patterns assault us. Our patterns of control, addiction, negativity, tension, anger, and fear assert themselves. That’s why most people give up rather quickly. When Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things that show up are wild beasts (Mark 1:13). Contemplation is not first of all consoling. It’s only real.”
Yet, once you open yourself to this journey, you discover more peace. “Know that things are okay as they are. This moment is as perfect as it can be. The saints called this the ‘sacrament of the present moment,’ ” he writes.
The book has been revised and updated with a reading guide. It received 4.25 stars out of 4,556 ratings on Goodreads and 4.2 stars out of 4,541 ratings on Amazon. It is a book to read and re-read. Enjoy the journey.
Fr. Rohr is on a journey himself as he has stepped back from public ministry after a cancer diagnosis last year. May God bless his life and work.