We gathered this week in a time of conversation regarding the book by Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ. What I am noticing that completely delights me is that people are asking very basic questions. One might imagine that means they are at the beginning of their spiritual journey. Oh, not so! It actually means they have travelled quite a distance, so they can begin to wonder and question within their faith, where they are not satisfied with what they were always told was true, but rather, they want to know the truth deep within them.
We began our conversation around original sin or original goodness. It is interesting to note that the focus on original sin with the emphasis on the 2nd creation story (the fall) rather than the 1st creation story (the goodness of all creation) came into being in the 4th and 5th centuries and was not a part of the early church writings or theology. It was a very interesting conversation.
This discussion led us naturally into the exploration of the question — if we focus solely on the life of Jesus, without considering his death, what do we learn about the nature of God, about ourselves, and about our relationship with God? A corollary question is — if we focus solely on the death of Jesus, without considering his death, what do we learn about the nature of God, about ourselves, and about our relationship with God?
Some answers offered were:
About his life: Jesus was a teacher, healer, lover, walked alongside people, never gave us, believed people were capable of change, and had a perseverance about him that was astonishing.
About his death: Jesus understands vulnerability and woundedness, there are things worth pushing up against (power, oppression) that is worth risking everything (causing “good trouble”), and that Jesus can enter into, understand, and redeem our suffering.
When we put all of this together, we can realize that we are in relationship with a God who loves us, believes in us, invites us to grow and change, walks alongside us in vulnerability and woundedness and redeems it (offers new life) and is asking us to be healers, which at times, means pushing up against that which is not of God.
We then engaged in a contemplative exercise on Gratitude, launched from Rohr’s statement, “The only way, then, to increase authentic spirituality is to deliberately practice actually enjoying a positive response and a grateful heart.” We drew to heart a recent experience for which we were grateful and asked the following questions:
- Describe the event (who, what, when, how)
- What do you most savor about the experience?
- What or who was altered through the experience?
- What part of God was revealed in the experience? (reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, love, healing, awakening)
- How can you imagine this exercise influencing your next moment, experience, or the rest of your life?
We meet every other Thursday at 2 p.m. If you would like to join our group, you are very welcome to do so. Just email Mother Barbara for the Zoom link.