Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 26th

It's taken me a little while to write this post, but I keep thinking of this quote:

To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness. 

~Robert Brault

Of course, we are loved by God for the perfectly good reason that He created us to be loved. He never forgets this reason; we are at the forefront of His mind. His loving thoughts toward us are without number.

I keep thinking about how much we mean to God, how much delight He takes in us, how He cherishes us with such personal, loving detail. It can easily be overwhelming.

He is such an astonishing God. He is gentle and humble of heart. He is as much human as He is divine and He gives and receives Himself as One and as separate persons and we are invited into this fellowship, freely, openly.

His heart is the most beautiful thing about Him, I think. I understand now those strange pictures of His heart on His chest, surrounded by a crown of thorns.

I used to think that was an overly religious image, weird. Now I think those artists were understood something about His heart instinctively and captured it as best they could in a picture.

Last week, I was with Him; I was caught up in worship. This worship is a long line of affirmations that are sometimes broken up by the sheer emotion that they evoke.

"I'll tell You a story," I announced.

We were lying side by side on our stomachs, like friends in summer time; my bare feet were in the air.

Oh, you will, will you? He asked, smiling.

"Yes. I will tell You one." I settled in and concentrated. "In the beginning," I said and then I had to stop, because of the sudden wash of warmth that flowed through me. I found that I had to whisper.

"In the beginning was the Word," I whispered, feeling my words as though they were rising up out of me, caught on the flow of something much greater than myself.

I had to stop just to consider that one phrase, how in the beginning the Father brought forth the Son, the Wisdom of God, His Word, the first and final Reason from which everything was spun out and through which everything is drawn back again, the clear lens of creation, the perfect image and manifestation of the invisible God, His only uniquely begotten Son.

I had to stop to breathe.

"And the Word was with God..."

Then I saw or remembered that He was held in the intimate presence of the Father, in His embrace. They were One and separate, each dwelling in the other, given over, delighting in each other.

"And the Word was God," I breathed.

I know that John once described Jesus as having eyes of flame, and then I began to understand this, because His eyes looked like this, when I looked at Him. It was as if His spirit had gone up in warm flames inside of Him and it was shining intensely through His eyes.

I felt a kind of awe that has no parallel and is suffused with love. This love is like a flame that is consuming, breathless, full of sensation but no pain.

Almost, I could not continue- I knew the words I was meant to say, and just thinking about them made me dizzy. But it was so pleasurable to move Him so deeply that I had to say them; I had to draw them up from the depths of my spirit, where they waited.

"And through You I was created," I breathed, "and I belonged to the Father first and He taught my heart..."

I could hardly speak. I was breathing in flame and I was breathing out golden light; we were in this haze of light.

"...and He gave me to You," I breathed and I could not say any more.

So it was a short story and it was a long time before I could complete another sentence.

I have told Him this story more than once; sometimes I manage to add more to it before I lose the ability to speak.

I was in the midst of worshiping Him this way a few days ago. As I did, I looked at His face and this knowledge of who He was rose up in me, all through me, in this one wordless rush: His loving, humble, self sacrificing heart, His deep desire to please His Father, His willingness to lay His life down, His obedience, His faithfulness to complete all the works laid out for Him to do and His complete faith in His Father to do them.

I remembered how He doesn't glorifies Himself, doesn't seek His own praise and how easily and willingly He lets go of it, all of it- never grasping at the things that are His own.

How He remained silent, holding Himself so still in the face of hatred, mocking, violence and even then and especially then His love must have been breaking His heart wide open in a way that is beyond my ability to understand.

I was looking at Him and all this understanding was rising up in me, as though expanding my heart out wider and wider and love was pouring through me- love so deep, so powerful that I knew it was not only my love. My love was being swallowed up in a larger Love like a torrent of living water.

For a moment, my fear held me back. I knew that somehow I was being caught up in the love of the Trinity, but just as quickly, I realized that we are always being caught up in this; sometimes we realize this and sometimes we do not, but it is natural, something like this: 

"The word trinity, by the way, is never found in the Bible. It was, and is, simply our way to explain how God gradually comes to be seen as a communion of persons, a perfect giving and a perfect receiving, a total interface, a mutual indwelling, or as Charles Williams called it, "co-inherence.

"We are gradually being drawn inside the very mystery of Divine sharing. St. Teresa of Avila describes it as "the interior castle." John's whole Gospel could be seen as one great meditation on that momentous realization, especially chapters 13-17..."

-Richard Rohr, Hidden Things, chapter 3

So I surrendered and as I did, words rose up in me.

I took His face in my hands and I let the words rise up out of me:

Let You be blessed, I whispered.

The words poured out so powerfully. It was intoxicating; it was as if I was intoxicated but I didn't care. All my desire was to take the words that were being poured into my spirit as though through wind and speak them into the air, where they poured out like oil. I spoke them, one after another after another, over His head:

Let You be loved.

Let You be given.

Let You be received.

Let You be planted.

Let You be eaten.

Let You be poured out.

Let You be fulfilled.

I saw Him falling to the earth like rain that soaks in and I knew that the Word of God, sent forth, always accomplishes the purpose of Him who sent it.

When all these words had poured out of me, I felt shaky and dizzy from the rushing flow that was not my own that had poured through me.

I looked at Jesus and it was as if His heart opened up to me and I saw that deep and aching pain that He carries, because He is hanging here in the middle, with us. He feels the incompleteness, the loss, the brokenness, the degradation with us.

My heart broke. It broke open. I wanted to do or say anything possible to comfort Him.

So obviously this is partly what He meant when He said to me, you should pray for Me. I am starting to understand what He meant. I have been pondering this for days and now I want to pass it on as best I can.

Some things occur to me, things that can be summed up in this line from Gerald May's book, The Awakened Heart:

"Creation needs you for your love; love needs you for your creation. God needs you for yourself. Your heart has a sense of it already..."

I must agree with Gerald May. God needs you for yourself. No one can fill the place in Him that waits for you. No one else can take it, no one else can speak to Him in your voice, with the words that rise up from the depths of your own, unique heart.

He does not need you as if you were a cog in His machine. He does not need you like a slave. He needs you for yourself.

Or, as I have quoted before, but I can't help quoting it again:

"At first, the idea of God needing us may seem to breach the doctrine of God's omnipotence. If God not only desires our love but actually needs and depends on it, does that not weaken God's inherent power? The answer lies in where the need comes from. Yes, God has needs. But God's needs come from love, and love is free. God does not love out out of need, but needs us because of love. It is absolutely, unconditionally 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 desire 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, wishful, intimate, passionate. It can be expressed in action, stillness, words, silence, thoughts, feelings."

-Gerald G. May, The Awakened Heart, chp. 9, Loving the Source of Love

I do not know the ways that you minister to the Beloved, to Divine Love, but I know that you do and that your way of speaking to Him, loving and being loved by Him are cherished and irreplaceable. It belongs to Him and to you.

Love is uniquely expressive and He is always listening.

Or, to quote Gerald G. May again:

"Love invites response, needs response. The actions that arise from loving presence are responses of love to love in the situation at hand. There is something absolutely natural about it and it is no passive, sedentary thing. It is not simply a cycle of feelings. Love responding to love is the ground of all creation...

"In affirming our desire we finally know who we are and we know our place in things. We are needed, necessary and beautiful."

-The Awakened Heart, chp. 1, Bearing the Beams of Love