Staying Present Through Chaos

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How do we “handle” chaos?

For years, as part of a group who tutored children who had been homeless and were now living in transitional housing, we would pump ourselves up before the children came into the room. We knew chaos would be happening in a few minutes and so we would say to one another “We can do hard!” and “Let’s go!!!” like some kind of athletic cheer before a competition. This did not help us or the children. As usual, the children came in and chaos arose in the midst of the enormous needs they brought with them.

Finally, we tried another way of anticipating and holding the disorder that worked much better. Before the children came into the room, we rang a beautiful chime. We got still and we invited our bodies to get grounded and strong; our hearts to flow with compassion; and our minds to get quiet and steady. We asked for and depended on God’s Presence and held the disruption with kindness and creativity. Instead of “Let’s do this!!!” kind of energy we shifted to “God be with us and open us to what is before us in this chaos right now.” Our quality of energy infiltrated the chaos in the room and allowed us to bring whatever grace and wisdom we could bring, with God’s help, to this challenging situation.


Otto Scharmer, professor at MIT in Cambridge, author of Theory U and founder of Presencing Institute, encourages us to lean into our current moment of disruption and let this moment move us towards individual and global renewal. Scharmer said: “The more the world sinks into chaos, desperation and confusion, the greater our responsibility to radiate presence, compassion and grounded confidence.”

Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest, author and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, says the same: “The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike almost any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection—and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth.”

This week’s spiritual practice, “Staying Present Through Chaos,” encourages you to let go of old ways of considering the chaos; rest in what insight the disruption brings; and then “let come” new ways of holding the imperfection.

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