Learning to See
by Richard Rohr
WE CANNOT ATTAIN the presence of God because we're already totally in the presence of God. What's absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another it means that God is choosing us now and now and now. We have nothing to attain or even learn.
To become aware of God's presence in our lives, we have to accept what is often difficult. We have to accept that human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We're sleep-walkers. All religious teachers have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught to see.
We have to learn to see what is there. Such a simple directive is hard for us to understand. Although we have a "merit badge" mentality, prayer shows us that we are actually "punished" by any expectation of merit and reward. For that expectation keeps us from the truly transformative experience called grace.
Experiencing radical grace is like living in another world. It's not a world in which I strive for spiritual success. It's not a cosmic game of crime and punishment.
Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It's a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence and even of enjoying the Presence. The full contemplative is not just aware of the Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.
All spiritual disciplines have one purpose: to get rid of illusions so we can be present. These disciplines exist so that we can see what it is, see who we are, and see what is happening.
Taken from Chapter Two, "Vision of Enchantment" in Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr, OFM (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1999, 2003 pp. 29-31).