“Do Not Think What You Are, But That You Are”
As we begin, let us center ourselves in Christ Jesus. Allow yourself to rest in the present moment to know God’s presence with you. It is good to be still as we pray for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
Last week we began a series of meditations that the Lord has placed on my heart as they flow out of my reading of The Book of Privy Counseling written by the anonymous 14th century Christian monk who also wrote The Cloud of Unknowing.
“Do Not Think What You Are, But That You Are”
The gist of this meditation is that we are created in the image of God, thus, our core true self, when filled with and made alive by the breath of God is in fact the image of Love. Much of the Spiritual Directors work is to help others hear God affirm this truth and help them to live out of this truth as God’s likeness bearers in the world. From the image of God, who we are, flows the likeness of God, who we are meant to be. But for this to occur we must, by God’s grace recognize and become aware of who we are as God’s image bearers. We must become aware that we are the image of Love called to be Christ-like in this world. This is more than a mere theological ascent of the intellect, for this realization can only be had within the context of purification in which sin that binds, and blinds is removed, and we are given eyes to see the truth of who we are. This purification comes as we gaze in to the eyes of Love, “Behold Love.” This occurs when we “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of humanity” (John 1:29). In this beholding a subtle, yet quite significant shift occurs as we cease to think of what we are and embrace the truth that we exist, that we are, and to know that we must be set free from that which blinds us to this reality. To ponder who we think we are is to label and objectify ourselves based on a mindset that analyzes and differentiates, separates and categorizes likes and dislikes in a very either/or fashion. This is a never ending, thus never satisfying, way of comparison and judgment of self and by extension others in the world. On the other hand, to rest in a way of being that simply affirms our existence opening our eyes to the source of all existence, who is God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the way of true freedom and the fully alive life. When Moses met God at the burning bush, he asked God to provide information, a name, as to who was sending him to Egypt to set the Hebrew people free. God made no attempt to self-define or self-describe, but simply said to Moses, tell them that “I Am” has sent you (Exodus 3:4). God is the great “I Am” and we are created in the image of “I Am”, thus we like God are not to be preoccupied with what we are, but that we are. In Christ Jesus an awareness of this pure isness of being can be realized. It is not something that happens as much as it is a shift in perception from a clouded reality to a purified Reality. “What we are” is not taken away from us, however it is transcended and included within the realization, “that we are.” This is a way of rest, where we are given an awareness that we are in the presence of the One who is. Resting in the pure naked, stark, elemental awareness that we are as we are and that we exist in the One who simply is. The beauty of this is that it is not complicated, yet we tend to make it so by overthinking this truth. We get so tied up in the latest theologies, church battles, and/or cultural distractions that we miss the fact that our true nature desires union with God in the simplicity of perfect love. It seems the more, so called, sophisticated we become the less capable we are to understand the truth and sincerity of a child’s heart. Surely it is simple elemental awareness that allows us to feel simply that we are, not in a Cartesian manner, “I think therefore I am”, but in a manner that rests in the way of being that tells us that we exist as images of God, of Love, reaching out, in a very natural manner, for a deep awareness and unity/Oneing with Love who created us. In this we realize our own unique self-existence and by extension realize the same truth for all humanity in an open, nonjudgmental and in the moment manner. To seek a definitive answer to what we are can be debilitating, even depressing, but to know that we are is freeing and edifying for us and all those in whom we come into contact. This is true because we can only know existence within the context of others who exist as well. The equality of those who simply exist, as images of Love in the world, is irenic. We do not describe ourselves as God’s image bearers, for that would be trying to make the image something, a what, an object, by description. The image of God simply is the image of “I Am.” This is our existence, this is who, not what, we are. All people have an innate ability to know that we are, but this can only be fully realized by new birth by the Holy Spirt and purification of sin in and through Jesus Christ. The breath of new life and the purification of sin that binds and blinds gives us an awareness of Truth as never before. In knowing that we are we come closer to the One who simply is. By this a wonderful thing occurs between us and God. For we can now take our good and gracious God just as God is and give ourselves in all our sickness, just as we are to God and to know eternal life.
To quote the author of The Book of Privy Counseling…
“Nothing matters now except that we willingly offer to God that blind awareness of our naked being in joyful love, so grace can bind us and make us spiritually one with the precious being of God, simply as God is in God’s very self.”
It is the work of the Spiritual Director to help others become open to this simple resting of self in God. This may be by simply providing sacred safe space for one to better know that they are, and God is. It may also be by teaching time proven disciplines such as Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Contemplative listening and the like. Thus, it is highly recommended that you find a good Spiritual Director to help you better hear God and thus better navigate the journey.
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Next week, Meditation #3: “The Taunt to Abandon the Journey”
May God Bless You All, Gene Yotka
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