A Review of
Yes, And…: Daily Meditations
Hardback: Franciscan Media, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Maria Drews
A WAY OF SEEING
I have never been a fan of daily devotionals. I prefer sitting in prayer and meditation over reading a nice thought for my day, or reading Scripture over adding another goal to how I approach the tasks ahead. But Richard Rohr’s new book, “Yes, And…” a collection of daily meditations, is different. And I actually like it.
Rohr’s writing comes not out of reflective musing, but a depth of wisdom developed over a lifetime of inner work and contemplation. The meditations are not an unsubstantial commentary outside of the central works of his career, but the culmination of the knowledge, experience, and themes developed throughout Rohr’s ministry as a Franciscan friar, teacher, writer, and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. In “Yes, And…” Rohr does not offer up the neat lessons of most daily readings, but a new perspective on seeing the world all together.
THE “YES, AND…” APPROACH
“Yes, And…” is ordered around the seven underlying themes of Rohr’s life and ministry: methodology, foundation, frame, ecumenism, transformation, process, and goal. The titles may sound analytic and dry, but the content speaks to vibrant life. Rohr takes a unifying approach to faith and truth that informs all his mediations, explaining he takes a “yes” position to Scripture and the church tradition, but includes “and…” to signify his embrace of the wisdom and knowledge that he has gained through experience. For Rohr, knowing God does not only happen through Scripture and the great tradition of the church, but through personal experience of God held subject to Scripture and tradition. It is this mystical knowing of God through experience that Rohr brings to life throughout his work.
Rohr’s “yes, and…” approach runs throughout all the themes of Rohr’s work, revealing Rohr’s non-dualistic way of seeing reality. Instead of dichotomies, Rohr takes a “yes, and…” position to unify what is typically divided in religion, the sacred and the profane, natural and unnatural, contemplation and activism, life and death, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, prophetic and priestly, and faith, reason, and experience. The “yes, and…” approach questions the divides that we have created and moves to a more inclusive understanding of God, faith, and reality. For instance, Rohr explores how our foundational image of God affects us. “There is an absolute connection between how you see God and how you see yourself and the whole universe” (65). Rohr argues that our image of God can be small and destructive or generous and constructive, and goes on to meditate upon a large, inclusive, loving image of God we can approach.
When looking at individual humanity, Rohr also explores a “yes, and…” approach to seeing ourselves. Instead of making an enemy of the parts of ourselves caught in sin and temptation, as religion often teaches us, we are really to die to our ego, our need to be right, to be superior, to be safe. We do not need to divide out parts of ourselves, Rohr states, but surrender to the reality that we are inherently children of God. As Rohr says, “Who we are, and forever will be, in God, is the only real, enduring, and solid foundation for our identity” (290). Rohr’s meditations reveal a way of seeing the world through the “yes, and…” lens that embraces all of who God is, all of who we are, and what God has created.
This book is great for both those who have followed Rohr over the decades and those new to his teachings. For those who have read many of Rohr’s almost two-dozen books, “Yes, And…” includes many meditations from his webcasts, DVDs, and teachings. For those who are new to Rohr, this is a bit-sized way to enter in to his main thoughts and themes. But beware, even the smallest bites of Rohr’s teachings are so rich with wisdom, they will take a while to digest.
This book of meditations may have the chance at transformation, not because it gives instructions on what to do or how to change, but because it helps us see reality differently. And as we see reality differently, then the way we live out of that new reality will follow. Read this book and you will find in Richard Rohr a spiritual director, a well of wisdom, a sacred companion, and a vision that will help you see not only what could be, but already is. Enjoy the journey.