Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23rd

Last night, I read a little bit of An Awakened Heart, by Gerald G. May. That is such a good book. I highly recommend it for anyone longing for spiritual intimacy with God.

This passage especially just struck me:

"The most reverent sense of companionship is an "I-Thou" appreciation that permits loving intimacy while preserving the sacred distinction between person and God. It is free from restriction by any particular images of God or self, it does not make an object of either party. It is free yet committed, reverent yet full of intimate mutuality. According to Martin Buber, it can become the deepest kind of relationship, a realization that God needs us as much as we need God.

"At first, the idea of God's needing us may seem to breach the doctrine of God's omnipotence. If God not only desires our love but actually needs and depends upon it, does that not weaken God's inherent power? The answer lies in where the need comes from. It is absolute, unconditional and totally free love. God is hurt by our absence from the play of love- the spirit of love is diminished when we turn away from it- but God chooses to be willing to let us go and to suffer the diminishment.

"In their own experience of life and prayer, contemplatives have consistently discovered that the source of love does indeed need us, for the continuing process of creation and for the sake of love as an end in itself. God is pleased and made happy by us and deeply desires to make us happy. God needs us as someone to love and someone to be loved by. The love can take many forms, it may be severe, tender, wistful, intimate, passionate. It can be expressed in action, stillness, words, silence, thoughts, feelings."

-Chapter 9, Loving the Source of Love

I think of it as similar to how Christ put on humanity and dwelt among us. He was and is fully God, and yet He chose to accept the poverty and powerlessness of humanity. He did so freely, as God.

In the same way, He lets Himself be vulnerable to us through His love of us. He does so because, without this vulnerability and mutual need, how could it be a true relationship? And He deeply desires a true, free and loving relationship.

It's why He goes after the one lost sheep, it's why the entire house is swept out to look for the one lost coin, it's why He goes running to meet the bankrupt, disobedient son while he's still far off.

But He never ceases to be God. He is the God that hopes all things, believes all things and endures all things, for His own sake, which is love, and for our sake, because we are the subjects of His love.

I resisted this for a long time, and He kept offering it to me. I kept insisting that He be untouchable, unmoved, well defended.

And He kept insisting that not only was He touchable, but He bore the scars to prove it, that His heart is wide open and that He does not defend Himself against us. His arms are always open. He is always waiting, inviting.

He told me once that He lives, each day, in far greater longing than I had ever known. When He told me that, I thought, that can't be right! How could God suffer longing?

It's because of the nature of His love, which He yields to, freely.

Or, as Richard Rohr puts it:

"Consider it this way: God's main problem is how to give away God! But God has great difficulty in doing this. You'd think everybody would want God. But the common response is something like this: 'Lord, I am not worthy. I would rather have religion and morality, which give me the impression that I can win a cosmic contest by my own efforts.'"

-Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, Chapter 2

It can be very difficult to let oneself be loved by God. I wrestled with it for years. It can be painful and slow, because of the things that can come up in the quietness of being present.

And God is sometimes showing up and sometimes not and so one is risking disappointment and feelings of rejection, if He does not show up in the way we hoped or wanted.

Try to trust Him with the little that you can, in the ways that you can, when you are able to. Give away as much as you can bear, reach out as far as you dare, be as honest with Him as you can, and let it be.

Let it rest in the mystery of God's love. Know that what you give Him, goes to Him, that when you open your heart, it's safe with Him.

You are falling into Love. Nothing else will catch you, but Love. You're His, you're safe in His hand, and no one can take you out of His hand, His loving care.

Say to yourself and try to believe, as much as you can, that you know His voice and a stranger's voice you will not follow.

He is the gate and you have entered through Him. Now you may go in and out, safely and find pasture. He knows you, and you know Him, and He lays down His life for you.

Remember that you have a new heart, a good heart, one that is producing fruits with patience. You can trust this new heart, this good heart, this heart that beats with His.

You have a new spirit and it is knit with His Spirit. Together, you and He have one spirit. Trust this. It's your truest self, it's the thing that lasts forever in Him, in His eternal life.

Knowing these things, and in the present moment and all that is it and is not, let yourself be loved, as much as you can bear to believe.

Let yourself rest in the defining, sustaining, ever present love of God that brought you forth, that carries you through and that brings you home.