While compliling these notes from today’s reading of The Universal Christ, I heard an unusual song, that repeated the line “we are living in the absence of the sacred” several times. I was listening to one of my favourite internet radio stations, which is the live feed from WWOZ in New Orleans. https://www.wwoz.org/
I went to the Stream Archive, so I could replay the song, and learn more about it. It was written and performed by Spencer Bohren, an American blues and folk artist who was born in Casper, Wyoming, and is now based in New Orleans.
Here is a link to it: https://youtu.be/Q6zStmRAGbc
Here is a link to his website:
It seemed such an apt song to reference, while I gathered quotes from a chapter in Rohr’s book in which he speaks with hope and practicality about the presence of God in our daily reality.
Here are the sentences that spoke to me today:
When you can honor and receive your own moment of sadness or fullness as a gracious participation in the eternal sadness or fullness of God, you are beginning to recognize yourself as a participating member of this one universal Body. You are moving from I to We.
…humanity has never been separate from God—unless and except by its own negative choice. All of us, without exception, are living inside of a cosmic identity, already in place, that is driving and guiding us forward. We are all ‘en Cristo’, willingly or unwillingly,
Every single creature—the teen mother nursing her child, every one of the twenty thousand species of butterflies, an immigrant living in fear, a blade of grass, you reading this book—all are “in Christ” and “chosen from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:3, 9). What else could they be?
I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind.
Without a Shared and Big Story, we all retreat into private individualism for a bit of sanity and safety.
Every religion, each in its own way, is looking for the gateway, the conduit, the Sacrament, the Avatar, the finger that points to the moon. We need someone to model and exemplify the journey from physical incarnation, through a rather ordinary human existence, through trials and death, and into a Universal Presence unlimited by space and time (which we call “resurrection”). Most of us know about Jesus walking this journey, but far fewer know that Christ is the collective and eternal manifestation of the same—and that “the Christ” image includes all of us and every thing.
Jesus can hold together one group or religion. Christ can hold together everything. In fact, Christ already does this; it is we who resist such wholeness, as if we enjoy our arguments and our divisions into parts.
We would have helped history and individuals so much more if we had spent our time revealing how Christ is everywhere instead of proving that Jesus was God. But big ideas take time to settle in.
You might wonder how, exactly, primitive peoples and pre-Christian civilizations could’ve had access to God. I believe it was through the universal and normal transformative journeys of great love and great suffering, which all individuals have undergone from the beginnings of the human race. Only great love and great suffering are strong enough to take away our imperial ego’s protections and open us to authentic experiences of transcendence.
Just because you do not have the right word for God does not mean you are not having the right experience. From the beginning, YHWH let the Jewish people know that no right word would ever contain God’s infinite mystery.
God needs something to seduce you out and beyond yourself, so God uses three things in particular: goodness, truth, and beauty. All three have the capacity to draw us into an experience of union. You cannot think your way into this kind of radiant, expansive seeing. You must be caught in a relationship of love and awe now and then, and it often comes slowly, through osmosis, imitation, resonance, contemplation, and mirroring. The Christ is always given freely, tossed like a baton from the other side. Our only part in the process is to reach out and catch it every now and then.
…for ordinary mystics like you and me, the kind of seeing I’m describing is a relational and reciprocal experience, in which we find God simultaneously in ourselves and in the outer world beyond ourselves. I doubt if there is any other way.
Nothing to believe here at all. Just learn to trust and draw forth your own deepest experience, and you will know the Christ all day every day—before and after you ever go to any kind of religious service. Church, temple, and mosque will start to make sense on whole new levels—and at the same time, church, temple, and mosque will become totally boring and unnecessary. I promise you both will be true, because you are already fully accepted and fully accepting.
Rohr, Richard. The Universal Christ. The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition