Rohr thinks Christianity slipped away from the Cosmic proclamation of Love toward the forensic and judgmental God image. He says that the cosmology of “True Christianity beguiles, seduces, invites, cajoles, creates spiritual yearning and draws humanity into ever more desirable mystery, healing, and grace.” The Love of God pulls us into union with God rather than Fear of retribution.Part of the universality of God is that God is present in the joys AND in the pains of life. Rohr says, “Holding the mystery of pain and looking right at it and learning deeply from it” is necessary because “God’s heart has always been softened toward us, even and most especially in our suffering. This softens us toward ourselves and all others who suffer.” In other words, our pain helps us feel and understand and empathize with others’ pain. Then we are willing to be vulnerable enough to open ourselves to the world and even the cosmos that is filled with human pain.
One way that we can be open and impact the universe is in and through prayer. Prayer is sitting in the presence of God whether with or without words. L’Engle notes, “God can take my fumbling faltering prayers and make something good.” St. Paul knows that we may not always know what to pray. In Romans 8:26, he writes “In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, since we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” God’s Love will breathe life into the prayers of our deepest pain, and when we open ourselves to bear others pain to God in prayer. It can be difficult to be willing to be that open and vulnerable to God and to the world, yet it is how we are transformed.Madeline L’Engle quotes Parker Palmer as saying, “the self becomes real only when reacting with other selves. We do not become real in isolation, but in response to the others we encourage along the way, and who call us into being. Not only that, according to L’Engle, “we act on those whom we meet and we call them into being. We are in a very real sense “Namers” and not the ecthroi who are ‘un-namers’ bent on removing the identity of those they encounter.”
I am reminded of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, who only became real by being loved by the Boy. “He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn't mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn't matter.” The Velveteen Rabbit is real to the Boy, but you recall that ultimately the Rabbit becomes really Real-really ‘Named’ and whole only after being cast off after the Boy is ill. “Instead of dingy velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was so great that he went springing about the turf on them, jumping sideways and whirling round as the others did, and he grew so excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she had gone.”In order to be more whole and holy we seek atonement or at-one-ment with God. Rohr says, “we [have] emphasized paying a cosmic debt more than communicating a credible love…the cross became more an image of a Divine transaction than an image of human transformation.” At-one-ment with God happens when we allow God to transform us-to make us ‘Real’, like the Velveteen Rabbit, through LOVE.
With L’Engle we might do well to pray “At-one me with You and Your love…whenever we pray, we are tapping the power of creation and that’s a mighty power…we have to try to turn to love, to know that the Lord who created all, alto loves all which was made.” L’Engle notes that in Genesis “God did not say, ‘It is finished’, that did not come until the Cross. What God said after making the world was, ‘It is Good. It is very Good’.” We have the opportunity, the option to take God at God’s word-to drink and eat life in Eucharist and in communion with life and living. In that living we are vulnerable and we are changed.In the Loving hand of God we are transformed and as Chardin says we have “roots in the cosmos”. Like the picture above illustrates (by Melanie Weidner, ListenForJoy.com, from a Facebook posting), we can withstand the storms and pains of life because we are rooted in the Holy and in the Cosmos.
The meditations from A Stone for a Pillow and Richard Rohr continue in November.