Tending to our Interiors: Introducing Inspiration from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Vis Companion

“There is nothing to prove and nothing to protect. I am who I am and it’s enough.” Richard Rohr

After I left my ten-plus year post in urban education, I spent a year cleaning people’s houses. I got paid to tidy, scour, tend to the dust and grime that we all accumulate in our living spaces. For twenty four hours a week, I would scrub, sweep, polish a family’s home or single person’s pad, making my way through bathrooms, kitchens, dens, bedrooms, laundry rooms, office spaces, attics, basements. It was privileged work in many ways –  as I was privy to the interiors of others’ “sanctuaries” – so to speak.  I came to think of this period in literal and figurative ways; I was cleaning out not only the inside of other humans’ homes, but tending to my own interior spaces: of heart, spirit, mind. It was sacred work on many levels.

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation

Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation

During this time, I listened to a lot of Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, on CD. I’d go into these sacred spaces, broom and bucket in hand, and — (if it wasn’t a Bob Marley kind of morning, or Neil Diamond flashback afternoon that I was having) — I’d pop in a recording of the Franciscan priest from New Mexico.  Viola! I was on retreat while at work. Every action of soap and sponge and elbow-pushing-arm, became a contemplative, active prayer of sorts.  I was, in the words of Fr. Rohr’s, putting to use the most operative word in his organization’s title, being a person of contemplation AND action. What I encountered in my heart and mind whilst listening to “Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening” or “The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying our Lives” conference or True Self/False Self made its way literally through my interior life and into exterior action.

Wool-broomI’d go into these sacred spaces, broom and bucket in hand, and I’d pop in a recording of the Franciscan priest from New Mexico.  Viola! I was on retreat while at work. Every action of soap and sponge and elbow-pushing-arm, became a contemplative, active prayer of sorts.  – Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

During this year of prayer and manual physical labor, I made significant changes in my life. I  worked to simplify or  downsize in all respects of property and ego; I  let go of everything I thought I knew for certain; I felt freer and more happy than I had ever been – as I cleaned and contemplated and wrote blogs as prayerful prose for the public. It was a revolutionary year of my life.

jesusandbuddha_cd_fullI’ve recently become re-acquainted with Fr. Rohr, as a friend hooked me up with his daily meditations sent via email from the Center for Action and Contemplation. It’s exhilarating to re-discover this spiritual teacher/wise counselor and touchstone. As a prolific writer and speaker, Fr. Rohr has many books and CD’s published to inspire our lives; he’s not unlike the Visitation’s co-founder, St. Francis de Sales, or the many holy people who inspire our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.

In the days, weeks, months to come, I will be re-posting some of Fr. Richard Rohr’s words as they so move me; I will be working to apply them, through a Salesian lens, to my own life.  I invite you to join me!

Peace to all this day.

6 Responses

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  1. Great! I cannot wait to read along!!! I have listened to the Jesus and Buddha series but will have to see if I can’t find someone to borrow the others you mentioned from.

    Thank you

  2. We should have a lending library for these materials, methinks! I will get on this, especially as the blog unfolds. Stay tuned…..

    Most welcome!
    Melissa

  3. [...] on the male journey – and lessons of nature – arrived in my inbox this morning from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. I find it inspiring and wildly appropriate to extend to all of our blog readers — both men [...]

  4. [...] Fr. Rohr’s words have really been speaking to me lately. His articulation about, and invitation to move beyond, dualistic thinking resonates. He reminds me so much of the 13th century Persian Sufi Mystic, Jelal ad-Din Rumi, in this regard. [...]

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