(You may watch video of these reflections and readings here)
Let’s come back to our senses.
The soul and the body too often have made to believe they are natural enemies.
Heaven and Earth too often get split and wedged apart and set against each other.
But a house divided cannot stand.
A bird with only one wing cannot fly.
We are embodied souls and ensouled bodies.
And to sever one from the other leads only to various kinds of insanity:
A split that lets
Appetites, on the one hand, run rip-shod, dangerous and never satisfied;
Obsessions ensnared by desires for what can only be fleeting.
And on the other hand,
A mind and soul
dry and abstracted and armored in false purity.
We need a marriage, a re-union, a partnership
between all dimensions of ourselves.
So, let’s return to our senses.
It’s a faithful thing to do.
There were those who said that Christ could only be divine
And have no part in human nature, so utterly depraved and fallen.
But to this the old Christian teacher Irenaeus had a good reply:
“The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
A human being, fully alive.
Our faith is in the Incarnation – we’ve found the Divine to be enfleshed.
We now know there is nowhere that is not infused
with the presence of the Creator
No valley or mountain or wound or pleasure
That is not touched by the Eternal Spirit
In which we live and move and have our being.
Yes, God is beyond all. Beyond all of everything.
And at the same time God is embracing all
And suffusing all.
So, let us return to our senses
To be and to breathe as whole beings
Beholding and being held
In our beauty, in our yearning, in our pains and our joys.
Within the beauty and yearning and joy and pain of all creation.
Scripture says that
God creates the cosmos through God’s Wisdom,
Which is a power that creates through delight and play
God’s Wisdom is a power that creates through delight and play
Creating a cosmos that he Creator proclaims, exclaims to “Good”
“So very Good” [Proverbs 8:22-31. Genesis ]
So, how do we share in that wise and creative activity of the Divine
Except through our senses, in union with the soul
As we immerse in the richness and dangers and delicious entrancements
Of our lives with others?
Of this the words of scripture sing:
You have ravished my heart, My sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart With one look of your eyes, With one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, My sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, And the scent of your perfumes Than all spices! Your lips, O my spouse, Drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
A garden enclosed Is my sister, my spouse, A spring shut up, A fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates With pleasant fruits, Fragrant henna with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron, Calamus and cinnamon, With all trees of frankincense, Myrrh and aloes, With all the chief spices— A fountain of gardens, A well of living waters, And streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind, And come, O south! Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits.
Song of Songs 4:9-16
Our scriptures burst with songs of yearning,
Songs of entrancement and delight,
Like this from the Song of Songs:
Songs that are rich and redolent
With the language of love.
In this way our senses can be passageways
To encounters with the Divine.
Holiness strikes us with astonishing beauty,
Agonizing at times.
A beauty that beckons and beguiles
A Sublime that unsettles and even terrifies
As it draws us into encounter
In the rapture the Sublime induces in us,
It forces us to be fully alive
Every sense pressed into the encounter.
The natural language for this is the language of love.
In the words of Jurgan Möltman,
“The glorification of God lies in the expressive joy of existence.”
This is why the language of love is so often the language of prayer.
[from “The Theology of Play,” as quoted in Ulanov “The Psychology of Prayer.”]
As drops of honey from the honeycomb of bees,
And the flow of milk from the one who loves her children,
So also, is my hope upon You, my God.
As a fountain gushes forth its waters,
So also, my heart pours fourth the splendor of You
And my lips send out Your praises.
Then my tongue becomes sweet in Your anthems,
And my limbs become fat in Your odes.
Also, my face beams with Your exultation,
And my spirit rejoices in Your love,
And my entire self shines.
All who are afraid can rely on You,
And salvation will become confirmed in them.
Your abundance is immortal life,
And the ones who receive it are without devastation.
From the Odes of Solomon
Let us return to our senses
Let us stir awake to all avenues given to us by Grace
To encounter the Holy
To encounter the world
To be and become with others
As we are,
Children of the Living God.
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