Dear Friends,

 We hope that you are safe and well.

 Today's Meditation is a reflection by Joan Chittister on "The Door between Control and Freedom." We enjoyed Rumi and Questions Before Dark.

 We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION 797: Joan Chittister: "The Door Between Control and Freedom" and Rumi too

Sister Joan writes, "What I think about life determines the way I will live it."

The door between control and freedom

Life, we come to believe, is a straitjacket. As the years go by, we learn to think thoughts someone else produced. We do the things someone else tells us are good for us. We see the world the way everybody else does. We call good what the world calls good, and bad what the world calls bad. We live in prisons of our own making.

The very thought of being myself in the midst of a standard brand collection of social automatons is terrifying. We would be shunned, we fear. We would be ridiculed, we’re sure. The unwritten rule, we know, is that we must “go along to get along.” And we do. As Jean-Paul Sartre says in his most famous Theater of the Absurd work, there is “No Exit.” There is, the play tells us, no way out once we set the pattern of it all. Once we subject ourselves to the eternal struggle of having to fit in to everyone else’s expectations. Once we take on the morality of the world and call good bad and bad good. But there is a way out of such false judgments.

The door between control and freedom is in the mind. My mind. What I think about life determines the way I will live it. How I view the world around me is the world I will find around me. The way I interact with others is the way others will treat me, too. I can be happy, in other words, if being happy is enough for me. The task is to begin to trust my own decisions, my own ideas, my own judgments until I know better not to.

It is the willingness to be someone I do not want to be, a carbon copy of the people around me, that denies me the chance to grow and flower, to become and believe, to pursue and produce the best of me. Whether what I care about is what everybody else around me cares about or not.

I know a woman who got up one morning and started one of the most beautiful gardens in town right in the middle of the inner city.

I know an eye doctor who simply closed his office one summer and went to Central America to open up eye clinics for children who could hardly see.

I know a woman who mobilized the population to make sure that over 2000 families a year get Christmas gifts in their small homes, too.

It’s all about being willing to think differently, to live differently, to follow the brash new ideas within us to build the world around us all over again. No matter how foolish anyone else thinks it is.

Rumi was right when he wrote, “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” To be happy, free yourself from what’s blocking you from being able to be the rest of yourself. Eventually it will be a gift to all of us.

––excerpted from The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister


On October 26, at 7 p.m. ET, Monasteries of the Heart will offer a dialogue with Adam Bucko, exploring themes in his new book Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation. The book is a collection of reflections, stories, and insights from Bucko’s years of prayer and activism, including in the streets with homeless and LGBTQ youth, in new monastic communities across the world, and as an Episcopal priest in an engaged contemplative community. In the webinar, Bucko will share initial reflections on engaged contemplation in tradition and practices, and then we will open it for questions and conversation. Learn more and register here.


September 26: “Our little solos are a note in an immense chorus vibrating grandly through the universe, a chorus which accepts and harmonizes the whir of the cricket and the long drumroll of the stars,” wrote American poet Harriet Monroe, who died on this date in 1936. Monroe was a contemporary of poets Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. She founded Poetry magazine in 1912, which published works by these writers and many others who set the norms of modern poetry. Monroe continued to write her own poetry until her death, which occurred while she was on her way to climb Machu Picchu, at the age of 75.

September 27: Saint Vincent de Paul, the French priest, founder of religious orders, and model of charity, died on this date in 1660. De Paul spent two years of his youth enslaved, and after he was released, he returned to his studies for ordination. As a priest, de Paul was especially devoted to working with slaves and the poor of his community, and he and Louise de Marillac established the Daughters of Charity, an apostolic community for women. He wrote, “It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is only for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give to them.”

September 29: The feast of the Holy Angels is a sign of God’s continuing and present care for us. Michael and Raphael and Gabriel are all bringers of God’s message to earth. Whose angel will you be today? Whose life is diminished and waiting for you to fill it with the loving presence of God’s care?

—from A Monastery Almanac by Joan Chittister


Spiritual teachers encourage some kind of “examination of conscience” at the end of the day, questions that encourage reflection on the day’s passing. Here are some unusual ones. You might want to write your own.

Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep

when the sky dies down, consider

your altered state: has this day

changed you? Are the corners

sharper or rounded off? Did you

live with death? Make decisions

that quieted? Find one clear word

that fit? At the sun's midpoint

did you notice a pitch of absence,

bewilderment that invites

the possible? What did you learn

from things you dropped and picked up

and dropped again? Did you set a straw

parallel to the river, let the flow

carry you downstream?

––Jeanne Lohmann

Compiled by Mary Lou Kownacki, Jacqueline Sanchez-Small, and Benetvision Staff