Rohr claims that mystics throughout the ages, “knew … by gazing upon the one that we have pierced, praying from a place of needed mercy [allowed] Love which changed them from the bottom up…God gazed at them through the suffering and sad eyes…to stand under is still the best way to understand.” It is not just mystics but artists and musicians who name this paradox and this reality. George Studdart Kennedy’s protagonist in his poem Well knows that the eyes of the London whore are God’s eyes. Gordon Lightfoot sings about a “child born to a welfare mom…a week, a day, they’ll take it away…” and even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the Suite Beethoven’s Last Day finds Beethoven at the point of having to choose whether to exchange longer life for himself for the life of a poor child in the street. “It’s the arching of a life…”Because “God is the God of love and love will not rest while there is any suffering left, any rebellion, any anguish” Madeline L’Engle notes we have to be willing to accept the vulnerability of our call to live in love and to name and empower those we encounter. She goes on, “Jesus said, ‘what I want is mercy, not sacrifice’.” All we are really called to do and be is open and involved in the cosmos. To be a butterfly on a leaf and let the wings we flutter echo in the universe and beyond.
We are called to see the world through God’s eyes. We must see that the London whore and the beggar in the street are just as important as royalty on a throne or the latest teen idol. According to Rohr that happens when we stand under the Cross-then we see that in and through the Cross “God [is] somehow participating in human suffering instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it…that also changes everything-at least for those who are willing to ‘gaze’ contemplatively.” In the Cross is the “very pattern of redemption…Jesus is, in effect saying…’I’m going to take the worst thing and turn it into the best thing, so you will never be victimized, destroyed or helpless again!’”There is nothing outside the control of God. As Paul said, “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
Because the Cross changes everything, we can agree with Paul, that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us…We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now, and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved.” (Romans 8:18-24)Rather than bemoaning the inequalities and the pains of our circumstances, we can instead be like this child who knows that “God is SOOOO good!” That might just free us to be more like the butterfly exalting in being freed from her cocoon and experiencing the first breath of air on her wings!
Would changing the way you look at the suffering of the world and the challenges of your own life change if you really believed Paul’s words, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”? What if you understood in your heart that Jesus’ work on the Cross was in effect saying “I’m going to take the worst thing and turn it into the best thing, so you will never be victimized, destroyed or helpless again”? Would you then be more able to see the world and our fellow humans in it through God’s eyes? Something to think about, for sure.
Next week will be the last in this series based on L'Engle and Rohr's work.