"When God gives of God’s self, one of two things happens: either flesh is inspirited or spirit is enfleshed. It is really very clear. I am somewhat amazed that more have not recognized this simple pattern: God’s will is incarnation. And against all of our godly expectations, it appears that for God, matter really matters. God, who is Spirit, chose to materialize! We call it the Christ Mystery.
"This Creator of ours is patiently determined to put matter and spirit together, almost as if the one were not complete without the other. This Lord of life seems to desire a perfect, but free unification between body and soul. So much so, in fact, that God appears to be willing to wait for the creatures to will and choose this unity themselves—or it does not fully happen. Our yes matters, just like Mary’s." - Richard Rohr, Adapted from "Near Occasions of Grace," p.5
This is so important to me that I can't believe I haven't posted it before. I went back and looked in my archives, but I didn't find it, so you get to have it today; an Advent gift, from me to you.
Growing up as a Christian Scientist, I was taught a profound distrust of all matter and material evidence. Never mind that I have an artistic temperament, and that what I see is of vital importance to me; I was taught that "Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal." Temporal, yes, of course; but unreal? That implies that everything that I can learn with my senses is an illusion. And I spent many years of my life swimming upstream in this mind-set, trying to "translate things into thoughts," "see through matter," or "unsee" things that were unpleasant, like illness and death. It's a hard way to live.
Anyway, from this bit of information about my former religion, you can see just how radical Richard Rohr's ideas would have been to me, when I first started reading him. And his writing simply cut through all of the old chatter, and was clearly, obviously, effortlessly true. And the more difficult my life has become, the more I see that it is all true...nothing has been contradicted, nothing has broken down. As the title of one of his books states, "Everything Belongs."
As we prepare for Christmas, walking through the days of Advent, the devotional readings in Fr. Rohr's book "Radical Grace" comfort me. They remind me of the freedom that God has given me, in releasing me from the tyranny that was part of being a Christian Scientist. Betraying myself - denying what I perceive with my senses and my intuition - is not what God asks of me.
Here is a reading for Advent:
"Many of our people create for themselves a permanently maintained happiness in the midst of so much public suffering. That state is based on an illusion about the nature of reality. It can only work if we block ourselves from a certain degree of that realilty. That's what is meant by denial.
"The Christian, though, is always saying, 'Come, Lord Jesus.' In other words, 'Let reality get at me, the full reality, the Cosmic Christ, all that is.'
"The Incarnation is the refusal of all denial. It is God saying yes to the muddy, the messy, the partial, the powerlessness of it all."
And today's reading:
"...God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourseves. It's a paradox. I can't prove it to you, and it sure doesn't feel like that, but I promise you it's true.
"When Jesus says those who lose their life will find their life and those who let go of their life will discover their life, obviously he's talking about life in a different way than you and I experience it. We think life is the thing that we've got to protect. He's saying, No, the true self needs no protection: It just is. What we are usually protecting is the repetitive illusions and addictive feelings of the false self.
"God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves. The Christian people, the brothers and sisters of God's Son, Jesus, are those who are called to that life of surrender." - From Preparing for Christmas With Richard Rohr
This Advent season, I'm grateful to have a teacher who tells the truth, who helps me to trust God AND myself, and to see that those are not mutually exclusive.
GOOD NEWS UPDATE: Thank you for your prayers for my friend, Ann Vossekuil (Angel Taylor's mom). She just posted that her biopsy's findings show the growth to be BENIGN! Thanks be to God! What a great Christmas gift!