by Father Richard Rohr
Ordinary Christianity has emphasized that we should love God. This makes sense, but do we really know how to do it? What I find in the mystics is an overwhelming experience of how God has loved us! That’s what comes through all of their writings, and I do mean all—that God is forever the initiator, God is the doer, God is the one who seduces me in my unworthiness. It’s all about God’s initiative! Then the mystics try desperately to give back, to offer their lives back to the world.
As my father Francis put it, “Love is not loved! Love is not loved! I want to love back the way I have been loved!” But mystics are not trying to earn God’s love by doing good things or going to church services. That question is already and profoundly resolved. The mystics’ overwhelming experience is this full body blow of the divine embrace, a radical acceptance by God even in their state of fragmentation and poverty. That’s what makes it “amazing” and “grace” (see Romans 11:6).
You can see and hear the difference in the style of helpfulness or worship when people are trying to earn God’s love and when they are trying to return God’s love. Returning love has an entirely different energy than earning love. It’s not based in fear or desperation or groveling. It’s based in ecstasy and joy. Frankly, many storefront churches and charismatic churches exemplify this free love more than most of us mainline folks.
Adapted from Christ, Cosmology, and Consciousness (CD, DVD, MP3)
“Who are you, God, and who am I?”
“They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
– Isaiah 11:9
“Plant consciousness, insect consciousness, fish consciousness, animal consciousness, all are related by one permanent element, which we may call the religious element inherent in all life, even in a flea: the sense of wonder. That is our sixth sense. And it is the natural religious sense.”
– D.H. Lawrence
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