Our shared stories have stirred something deep within us. As we reflect on the pain, injustice, and trauma that has touched our lives in various ways, we feel a profound connection that transcends our individual experiences. It is a connection rooted in the universal human capacity for suffering, but also in our innate yearning for healing, wholeness, and spiritual growth.

For some of us, the wounds were inflicted in childhood, shattering the innocence we deserved and forcing us to confront harsh realities far too soon. The violations of trust, the abuse of power, the erasure of our worth – these became formative experiences that could have easily calcified into bitterness and despair. Yet, through some inexplicable grace, they instead became entry points into a deeper awareness of the sacred presence that sustained us even in the darkest moments.

Others among us grew up in relative comfort, sheltered from overt trauma yet still susceptible to the numbing effects of privilege and the spiritual malaise that comes from disconnection. Our awakenings came gradually, often through encounters with those whose realities starkly contrasted our own. Layer by layer, our eyes were opened to the systemic injustices woven into the fabric of our societies – the racism, the economic oppression, the disregard for our planet and all its inhabitants.

Regardless of our starting points, we now share a common conviction: that the contemplative life cannot be lived in isolation from the world’s cries. Our spiritual journeys have become inextricably linked to the journey of our aching, wounded world. To turn inward while remaining indifferent to the suffering around us would be to succumb to a spirituality of escapism, a false transcendence that denies the inherent unity of all existence.

And so we are called to walk the razor’s edge, balancing the need for deep inner work with an engaged embrace of the world’s turmoil. We must cultivate the stillness that allows us to access the wellsprings of divine love and wisdom, while simultaneously opening ourselves to be vessels through which that love and wisdom can flow out into the places of greatest need.

This is no easy path. The risks of becoming consumed by the fires of rage or numbed by the sheer enormity of the world’s ills are ever-present. Yet we find solace and guidance in those who have walked this way before us – the mystics, the contemplatives, the prophets and sages who embodied the harmonious dance of action and inward stillness.

We draw inspiration from St. Francis, who stripped himself of worldly possessions to embrace the poverty and marginalization of those society scorned. From Thomas Merton, whose journey from spiritual seeker to fierce advocate for social justice and interfaith understanding modeled the progression we too must undertake. From Hildegard of Bingen, whose immense creative outpourings and uncompromising truth-telling flowed from a life of intimate communion with the divine spirit pulsing through all creation.

Their lives, and the lives of countless others across spiritual traditions, whisper to us of a hidden lineage – an unbroken stream of wisdom and experience passed down through the ages, empowering each generation to engage the unique challenges of their time while drawing from the same Source that nourished their ancestors.

In this lineage, we recognize our role as humble links in an eternal continuum, receivers and transmitters of a sacred embodied knowledge that can only be fully realized through our own immersion in the joys and afflictions of this present age. The great contemplatives beckon us not to mere philosophical affirmation, but to the courageous lived experience of what it means to be a human soul awakening to the unity of all life amid the ravages of fragmentation.

So we commit ourselves anew to this path, strengthened by the reminder that we do not walk alone. We are supported by those who have gone before, and buoyed by the solidarity of those alongside us who have chosen this way – the way of descending into the particular pains and injustices of our world, not to wallow in despair, but to become alchemical vessels through which the light of the sacred can permeate the darkness.

We will make mistakes. We will falter and need to realign our course time and again. But in choosing this path, we have opened ourselves to the deepest currents of the eternal mystery – a mystery that reveals itself not in escapist transcendence, but in the full-bodied embrace of our shared human condition in all its anguish and all its possibility.

May we have the courage to honor this choice through our actions each day. May we weather the storms of anger and grief by anchoring ourselves in the stillness that is always available, if only we pause to receive it. May we extend compassion to ourselves and each other as we navigate the inevitable inner and outer tensions of this journey. And may we remain open vessels for the healing radiance that our world so desperately needs, allowing it to shine through the cracks in our own woundedness and brokenness.

For this is our humble yet essential role: to be the mirrors reflecting Divine Light into the forgotten corners. Not to become saviors striving for perfection, but to be the willing, imperfect instruments for Love’s ceaseless outpouring into our aching world.


Personal stories about facing pain, injustice, and trauma, reflect how these experiences deepen one’s spiritual journey and cultivated compassion and a drive to help others. The importance of finding balance between contemplation and actively engaging with the world’s suffering was emphasized. The role of anger and nonviolent resistance in restoring violated boundaries while maintaining a grounded, spiritually-rooted presence was discussed. Historical and contemporary mystics and contemplatives like St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, Hildegard of Bingen, and John Mohawk are inspirational models integrating spirituality and social engagement. The concept of a spiritual “lineage” passing down wisdom from one person to the next is simportant to keep in mind. Honoring marginalized voices, like women and indigenous peoples, and recognizing their contributions to fostering a more just, compassionate world was underscored. Nature and the divine presence within creation were uplifted as sources of healing, inspiration, and motivation.Engaged contemplation is a vital practice for confronting contemporary ecological, economic, social, and spiritual crises.

Key Points

Here are the key points from the conversation:

1. Personal stories about pain, injustice, and trauma reflect how these experiences deepened the spiritual journey and foster a sense of compassion and motivation to help others.

2. It is important to find a balance between contemplation and action, prayer and engagement with the world’s suffering.

3. The role of anger and nonviolent resistance in restoring boundaries that have been violated is significant to maintaining a grounded presence rooted in spiritual depth.

4. Historical and contemporary mystics and contemplatives are inspirational figures who modeled the integration of spirituality and social engagement, such as St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, Hildegard of Bingen, and John Mohawk.

5. The concept of a spiritual “lineage” is where wisdom and experiences are passed down from one person to another, empowering each generation to carry forth the message of engaged contemplation.

6. It is importanr to honor marginalized voices, such as women and indigenous peoples, and recognizing their contributions to fostering a more just and compassionate world.

7. Nature and the divine presence within creation were emphasized as sources of healing, inspiration, and motivation for engaged contemplation.

8. Engaged contemplation is a vital practice for addressing the ecological, economic, social, and spiritual crises of our contemporary context.