Heartbreak, Grief Work and Engaged Contemplationcontinued

In light of the mass shooting at the gay club in Colorado Springs and other murders among college students this past week in America, we are considering the new book from Adam Bucko, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation.

Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation by Adam Bucko

At least one person has responded that it fits her needs as a recent widow and of course it is integral to our humanity that the via negativa and grief are regular visitors who always have something to teach us.  Who does not know heartbreak?  And especially at this time in history.  How we deal with it is a major story.

The subtitle to Bucko’s book talks about “Engaged Contemplation.”  That is fresh language obviously tweaked from Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise talk about “engaged Buddhism.”  It offers another way of talking about “action and contemplation” (Richard Rohr) or “sacred activism” (Andrew Harvey) or “mystics and prophets” (my language).

Consider these well-chosen chapter titles from the book:

To be Human is to Revolt against Injustice.

Don’t Try to be Mother Teresa or Saint Francis

Going into the Desert of Our Hearts

“Free Hugs.” Peaceful witness during a march following the 2019 shooting of 27 people in Dayton, OH. Photo by Becker1999, Flickr.

Our Global Dark Night

Love in Times of Hate

‘I Refuse to Go to a Homophobic Heaven’

Praying with the Street Church of Radical Forgiveness

It is Time to Fast and Pray for the Future.

The book ends with a number of practical and useful “spiritual practices” drawn from several traditions.

We are now in the season of Advent and Bucko takes the passage from the prophet Isaiah (61:1) which Jesus cites it in Luke’s gospel.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.
The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor….

Icon of Dorothy Day recognizing the Christ presence in a homeless man. Image by iconographer Kelly Latimore; used with permission. Purchase HERE.

Adam adapts it his way:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because God has appointed me for a special purpose.
He sent me to preach the good news to those who are suffering in my neighborhood.
He told me to offer comfort to those whose lives and livelihoods were devastated by the pandemic.
He asked me to question and re-imagine our old tired systems that are based on violence
He asked me to take a risk and be vulnerable with my community.
He told me that my heartbreaks can lead to joys.*

The book is a fine sequel to the book Adam and I co-authored a few years ago, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation.  It speaks to many people’s troubled hearts today.

*Adam Bucko, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2022), pp. 36-38.

See Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Works of Mercy vs. Works of War.” Image by Rita Corbin, photo by Jim Forest on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Are you busy “questioning and re-imagining old tired systems that are based on violence?”  How is that going?

Recommended Reading

Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation

Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.
Occupy Spirituality is a powerful, inspiring, and vital call to embodied awareness and enlightened actions.”
~~ Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and author of The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

7 thoughts on “<strong>Heartbreak, Grief Work and Engaged Contemplation</strong>, <strong>continued</strong>”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    It is clear that the via negativa is the place of grief, and our visits there always have something to teach us. Who does not know heartbreak? And especially at this time in history. The subtitle to Bucko’s book talks about “Engaged Contemplation.” That is fresh language obviously tweaked from Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise talk about “engaged Buddhism.” It offers another way of talking about “action and contemplation”–some feel that you can’t be both a justice-maker and a contemplative. Just to name a few chapter of this book will give one an idea of what they’re in for: To be Human is to Revolt against Injustice; Our Global Dark Night; It is Time to Fast and Pray for the Future. Are we busy “questioning and re-imagining old tired systems that are based on violence?” I think that we who are involved in things like our Daily Meditations are definitely questioning and re-imagining the old systems which have shown themselves to be dangerous to the human race. And because of the via creativa we are re-imagining some things never thought of before that can help us now. Pray for the Strength, Fortitude, and Perseverance to do our work and as Sue Safford said yesterday in her comment that “we have the examples of Matthew and all who encourage us to persist in loving actions, to plant seeds even if we do not live to see the harvest…even if we never see the harvest…

  2. Avatar

    We in Illuman, an international men’s group, will be meeting on Zoom on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, to share about Adam Bucko’s book in Council. We’ll begin In January. We’re also hosting Adam Bucko in an online webinar about his book “Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide” at 7 p.m. Eastern time on December 15. Go to illuman.org for details. We also welcome women to this webinar that we call a Watering Hole. Thanks Matt for calling attention to this profound book !

  3. Avatar

    In today’s DM, regarding the Desert of the Heart, what really spoke to me were two statements. The first being, “Confusion… not knowing is a sign of being in the process of change… of becoming larger than we were before.” The second being, “Our soul grows through subtraction.”

    The first brought me strangely, a sense of comfort, in the sense that’s its okay to not know the outcome… while in the throws of uncontrollable chaotic changes. This speaks to me of a deep surrendered trust in the process of change itself, rather then the unknown destination it may be leading to. When one willingly surrenders to the journey rather than the destination, then one’s trust does truly begin to enlarge… in the sense that one discovers one is being profoundly comforted, consoled and wisely counseled through one’s companionship with the living presence and essence of Spirit and the spiritual reality of this; in and through all of the confusing changes.

    Secondly, my soul then grows through the subtraction of relying and depending solely upon myself to navigate my way through the birthing pains of change, and instead places this Sacred Trust in relationship with the other, whom is also myself.

  4. Avatar

    In the words of WH Auden’s beautiful elegy, “In Memory of WB Yeats”:

    Follow , poet, follow right
    To the bottom of the night
    With your unconstraining voice
    Still persuade us to rejoice . . .
    In the deserts of the heart
    Let the healing fountains start
    In the prison of his days
    Teach the free man how to praise.

  5. Avatar

    I have been reading the publication of CAC, ONEING, which is all about the meaning of apocalypse–it is not doom and gloom but rather a revealing of what is really going on in the world and giving us the opportunity to imagine something better in the midst chaotic and seemingly meaningless violence. Change can be upsetting, to say the least, and so many of our systems are failing. For the past 6 or 7 years, I have experienced a pretty much total disullusionment about our system of government, the corruption that seems to be growing, and on and on. I saw some of the signs over the years but chose to ignore the rest. When the ex-president was elected, though, I was driven to do everything I could to be more active in positive ways like joining Amnesty International’s Urgent Action network and supporting local efforts to combat climate change, homelessness, and other social ills. There are many things that can be done at the grassroots level. I support the Poor People’s Campaign and am currently doing textbanks encouraging voters in the upcoming Georgia run off. In other words, I got really, really mad and fed up and decided to do something that would both feed my need to help and possibly have some positive effect. We all can and need to contribute to something better.

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: