Smith has just spent a week helping us locate God in the throne room of ourselves.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Barely has the dust settled and he asks us to consider that the whole creation is also there within us.
I can’t help but chuckle to myself, “It’s getting awfully crowded in here!”
Yet it is not an uncommon idea in the broader Christian tradition. One of you emailed me to say, “As I read the book today, I couldn’t help but think of Julian’s hazelnut.” Me, too!” I exclaimed back.
Julian of Norwich, again! In her visions she saw a small thing in her hand, the size of a hazelnut. It was so fragile that she thought it could not possibly exist without God’s creating, loving, and sustaining it. The fascinating bit is that she asked Jesus what it was and was answered, “It is everything that is.” Later in her vision she also saw God in a point (as if on the tip of a needle.)
Now if God and all creation can both exist fully in a hazelnut and a point, how much more so the human being! It reminds me of one of the Eastern Orthodox epithets for the mother of God – Mary, more spacious than the heavens.
I suspect that most of us have known the experience that Smith relays of the desert mothers and fathers, at least in part. It is the experience when something happens and your heart just seems to lose all boundaries. It is tender to everything with a precious compassion. Even those whom you struggle to love suddenly open to you with a sense of understanding and grace. “I can see that person as a child; I can see their hurt.” Or perhaps a time comes when you just cry or wail or laugh as if the emotion of the whole world is passing through you. You don’t know why.
We strong cognitive types like to dismiss these things – depression, over-sensitivity, ‘woo-woo.’ Otherwise, we try to tamp out the uncomfortable fire with a heavy blanket of words. The tradition would say this is the world breaking out through and into us.
People who are regularly possessed of this spacious emotional tether to the whole world within themselves have often been said to have ‘the gift of tears.’
Of course,… there is another implication of the world within us.
Who among us is not concerned about what is going on in Ukraine? Maybe outraged? Maybe righteously so, we would say. Who among us is not appropriately incensed by police violence, as unbalanced as its outcomes seem to be?
Well, Jesus told his disciples that those who say, “You fool” are “liable to judgment.” Jesus wants us to take seriously that murder and war mongering, the corporate deceit, and sex scandals, all of these things exist in miniature in our contempt for our political opponent, our stinginess with our sibling, our unchaste thoughts about a neighbor or our utilitarian judgments of our churchmates.
The human being is, indeed, a microcosm. Will we genuinely allow God to begin the salvation there that we long for God to bring to rights in the world? Every healing with us *is* an act of salvation for the world.
It is all here. It must all begin here.
The Rev. adwoa Wilson