Saturday, June 18, 2016

...that is how the light gets in

Today I returned to a work started just about this time last year: a spirituality of tenderness. It is my hope and prayer that over the next 24 months I can work on this and move towards possible publication. That is not entirely in my hands, yes?  Still, I am hopeful as I outline the chapters, restart my Biblical and theological research and plan to visit a L'Arche community in Canada in early July.  Two poems popped-up in my work this morning that deserve to be shared:

dedicated to a theo-poet

once she was canonized
as a visionary
or burned on a dry wood stake
as a witch
(two sides of the same coin)
i saw her
as one of the levantine women
who tried to live
with jesus and his wandering commune
the humane god
now she sits meditating
on a cliff by the ocean
playing and unwrapping
poems in prayers in faith and love a
prophetess of a magdalenian time
prophesying the aeon of tenderness
- Malcolm Lowry

Small wonder that dear Francesco I has elevated Mary Magdalene to the status of saint: she was faithful, present and tender beyond Christ's grave. She is one of the forgotten teachers of the tenderness tradition. The second poem, by Rumi, speaks to me of how the tenderness of Jesus is born within us and then shared in a broken world. It is the distilled wisdom of Irenaeus and his insights into theosis - deification - wherein we become more and more like God because God has been incarnated in Christ. Such is the foolishness of the Cross: 

Nothing can be undertaken until a pain
—a yearning and love for a thing—
is awakened inside a human being.
Without pain one’s endeavor will not be easy,
no matter whether it be about this world,
the hereafter,
commercial, regal, scholarly, astrological
or anything else. 

Our body is like Mary,
and each of us bears a Jesus.
If we experience birth pains,
our Jesus will be born,
but if there is no pain,
our Jesus will return to his origin
by that hidden road whence he came,
and we will remain deprived
- Rumi
Theosis is mystical Christian theology. It does not assert that we become god, but rather that our nature is transformed and moves into union with the holy as we learn from our sin, accept holy grace and bring to birth more tenderness as the result of our wound.  One scholar put it like this:
For many (early Church) Fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in His person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. 
Karl Rahner, a Roman Catholic theologian, is often quoted as saying: "Christianity in our era must become mystical or it will perish." I sense that he is right. Another articulation of this comes from the mystical wisdom of Leonard Cohen who reminds us that in all things there is a crack... for that is how the light comes in.

Credits: icons of Mary Magdalene and Jesus by Br. Robert Lentz

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