Unity in the Heart of God
Love unites all, whether created or uncreated. The heart of God, the heart of all creation, and our own hearts become one in love. That's what all the great mystics have been trying to tell us through the ages. Benedict, Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, Hadewijch of Brabant, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Dag Hammarskjˆld, Thomas Merton, and many others, all in their own ways and their own languages, have witnessed to the unifying power of the divine love. All of them, however, spoke with a knowledge that came to them not through intellectual arguments but through contemplative prayer. The Spirit of Jesus allowed them to see the heart of God, the heart of the universe, and their own hearts as one. It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realisation of the unity of all that is, created and uncreated.
- Fr. Henri Nouwen
What's this "unity" business? Oh, yes, yes, intellectually, or on some quantum knowledge level, I get that "We Are All One." It's something I ramble off and hold as a tenet in the "Melissa-Borgmann-book-of-faith-and-understanding-of-the-Universe." (We all have our own books, right? Like little scrappy journals inside our hearts where we store pithy quotes and fortune cookie fortunes.) Well, I do, and this notion of a unified body of LOVE exists there.
But what does that MEAN? And what does that call me to do? Or be?
I read this reflection of Nouwen's this morning, and it smacked me in the center of my chest. I love Henri, and some days he speaks to me; other days, not so much. Reading these emailed passages is simply part of my morning routine. I pray using them, but sometimes wonder, "What is the quality or nature of my prayer?"
"Who's it for?"
"Why do it?"
"What does it matter if I'm at home drinking coffee, walking around in a t-shirt and tending to some dead spiritual dude's words or not?"
"I mean, REALLY, in the grand scheme of things: does it DO ANYTHING?"
I left a life of teaching, of feebly attempting to MAKE CHANGE in the world, to do this? Scantily clad, caffeinated prayer-warrior work?
But there's something in here today. There is something in this contemplating business, in this almost-rote activity of pouring over words and ideas, and sitting still with them in my heart. Stirring the pot of potato/turkey sausage/ pepper chowder I just made for tonight's dinner guests, I thought, "Yep. We are all one. And this prayer business and thought and heart work, it's as important as preparing food."
So, what? Where's that bring me? "I'm just a little potato in this soup of love?" Or: "We are all peppers and turkey sausages on some level?" I mean, if we are to hold this idea of "WE ARE ONE" to be true, then doesn't that follow?
Does it offend you if I call you a "turkey sausage"?
And if that is so, Sweet and beloved Creator/Christ/Benevolent and Enlightened Buddha, how do you react if I tell you you are the same and ONE with Hitler? With Osama? With George W.? With Mother Theresa? With Ghandi?
It is something to consider, or hold, if you are like me, and believe in this business of unity.
"We are all one."
Sweet Planet Earth, does that scare you?! To tell you the truth: it knocks me on my ass. Levels me. I'm Saul, on the road, getting struck down and blinded by Love. I'm trying to see clearly, I'm grasping at the dusty road, trying to feel my way, and wondering what conversion means, what peace means, what healing is possible - given my blasted, on-my-butt-blindness.
I'm sitting at the Visitation Monastery on Girard in North Minneapolis. It's a Saturday, and I'm surrounded by Visitation Companions and Sisters, and I'm being asked to contemplate the pierced heart of Christ. I'm being invited to make meaning of an organ that is the pumping machine of the body, and is pierced to the core, and yet still works? I'm being asked to hold my basic knowledge of cardiology alongside my basic knowledge of Love's Mystery.
Friends, I have no answers. But I share my ramblings with you, as Nouwen stirs things in me, and I tend to listening to my own pierced heart and these notions of alignment, love, unity.
Let me know if anything comes up in your reflections.