The Magic and Mystery of Intimacy
The Great Mystery unfolds even further. It seems that Israel’s God, YHWH, who is uncovering and exposing the Divine Self in the Bible, soon desires not just images or holy writings, but even persons with whom God can be in very concrete and intimate relationship—quite literally friends, partners, and companions. Jesus then became the representation of one walking on this earth who fully accepted and lived out of that divine friendship. In fact, he never seemed to doubt it. That must be at the core of our imitation of Jesus, and exactly how we become “partners in his great triumph” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Such healed people will naturally heal others, just by being “healed” from the great lie of separation.
God will not settle for mandated or fear-based contracts with servants, but rather desires willing and free relationships with “friends” (John 15:15). This is called a “new covenant” in both the Old and New Testaments (Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20). Even today it still feels new, presumptuous, and unbelievable to most people.
In calling forth such freedom, consciousness, and love, God is actually empowering a certain kind of equality and dignity between God and humanity, as strange and impossible as that might sound. Yet love is only possible if there is some degree of likeness and equality between two parties. Jesus became that likeness, equality, and dignity, so we could begin to imagine it as possible for ourselves too.
One way to read the entire Bible is to note the gradual unveiling of our faces (2 Corinthians 3:18)—the gradual creating of personhood, from infants, to teenage love, to infatuation, to adult intimacy, to mature and peaceful union. We are tempted to avoid the deeper risk of intimacy every step of the way. But biblical spirituality has the potential of creating “persons” who can both receive and give out of love, a love that is always both risky and free. The English word “person” is related to the Latin per-sonare, or “sounding through.” The word may also be borrowed from the Etruscan word for mask. The deepest understanding of human personhood is that we are a sounding through from Another Source. If you are afraid of intimate interface, you will never allow this or know its softening power. You will stop the process before it even begins and never know how it works its transformation on the heart, mind, and body. If human eyes are too threatening for you, start with a stone, work up to plants and trees, animals will be easier, and probably only then are you ready for humans, and finally for the divine gaze.
I must be honest, however, and tell you that there are some people who start with the divine gaze and move down the “Great Chain of Being” to swallows, sunflowers, and stones. But in either case, the great chain that connects us all is always and only love. Connecting more and more of the links of the chain is the supreme work of all true spirituality. A single link is never the full chain.
Gateway to Silence:
“The physical structure of the universe is love.” —Teilhard de Chardin
Reference: Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 1999), 53-54.