Make us one even as we are one...

The first part of this day was given over to embodied prayer: holding and scratching my wacky and neurotic puppy/dog Lucie. She is such an odd mixture of gentleness and worry - and only God knows why? So we sat with one another this morning for ten contemplative minutes, she nestled close to my chest, greeting and welcoming the start of this new day. It brought to mind a graphic that is being passed around on Face Book recently: 
This morning's scripture (pray as you go w/the English Jesuits) was the prayer for intimacy Jesus offered in John 17. In Peterson's The Message it reads:

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness.

For the past week a section from John Philip Newell's new book, The Rebirthing of God, has been swimming around my head. It speaks to this invitation to live in tender intimacy with all of life.

At some level, every atom in the universe seeks to remain in relationship with every other atom. Science observes this propensity without claiming to understand it. Brian Swimme, an evolutionary cosmologist, calls it "the urge to merge." It is the desire for oneness that was implicit in the universe's beginnings. Everything has a yearning to move in relationship. The earth has been revolving around the sun for 4.5 billion years. This could be described as a long-term stable relationship! It is a love affair - and we've been born of that love affair. If humanity can be understood as a microcosmos - a miniature of the cosmos - then the cosmos can be described as a macroanthropos - a magnification of humanity. We are not an exception to the cosmos. We are not an addendum. Humanity has emerged from within the matter of the cosmos. We express the nature of the universe. What is deepest in us - our longing for relationship - reveals a yearning that is within all things. (p. 6)

Christ's prayer - and life, death, resurrection and ascension - portray and embody the wisdom and rhythm of creation. We were made for spiritual and physical intimacy with God, one another and all creation. Sadly, this is NOT what the faith has been known for over the centuries. Fr. Richard Rohr wrote in this morning's reflection:

If Jesus is the map for the entire human journey, then Julian sees in the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ the map and trajectory for all of creation. Paul taught that the final chapter of history will be resurrection (1 Corinthians 15), but we made it into a worthiness contest at which very few seemed to win the prize. Gratefully, we still say in the Eucharistic Preface of the funeral liturgy, “Life is not ended. It is merely changed.” Eternity seems to be the shape of everything.

Christianity should have been the most optimistic religion of all. What a shame that we denied such hope and vision to so many centuries of Christians and chose to live in fear instead. The true Gospel has always been too good to be believed and trusted, and so we decided not to! All we know for sure is that God is not stingy, as all of creation proudly shouts and proclaims.

Today will be given over to trying to live into the blessings of this sacred intimacy: there are meetings and plans to address, hospital visits and prayers to be shared as well as preparations for a weekend wedding. During Advent I have vowed to spend as much time in quiet prayer and reflection as I do in the business of the church. I have realized, yet again, that without being nurtured within myself, I simply run out of emotional and physical energy for ministry. And then I am no earthly good to any one. Like another pilgrim once said to the Lord, "I believe, Lord, help my disbelief."  Sitting with my doggie friend is a good start.

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