Participation: Week 1
A Larger Knowing
Sunday, April 3, 2016
We must know spiritual things spiritually. (See 1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
Francis and Clare of Assisi are two prime examples of people who chose to live on the “edge of the inside” rather than front and center and who understood life as participation. As we’ve explored in the last few weeks, knowing things from the inside-out and from the bottom-up offers a more authentic view of reality. But that’s not the only reason why Francis and Clare were able to see things differently than most of us do. Was it because they were more moral, more “chosen,” more detached, more loving, more sincere? These are all likely true, yet I believe the very foundation of what we mean by holiness or mysticism is knowing and loving from our Source. Francis and Clare knew by participation in a Larger Knowing that many of us call God. Or, as Paul says, “They knew as fully as they were known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
This kind of shared knowing or full consciousness (conscire: con means “together”; scire means “knowing”) is what many teachers mean by contemplation. True contemplatives surrender some of their own ego boundaries and identity so that God can see through them, with them, and in them—with a larger pair of eyes. It is quite simply a higher level of seeing; it is deep consciousness.
Perhaps you have wondered why some people understand spiritual things in a much more compelling way than the rest of us do. They believe the same doctrines that we do, but their faith is alive and changes both their minds and hearts in obvious ways. Many of us think we get the “what” of a doctrine, but it does not radically change us or inspire others. As Jesus says, “they are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:9). Big Truth is intended to deeply change the seer himself or herself, or it is not Big Truth. Some form of contemplative practice is the key to this larger seeing and this larger knowing.
When we see things in a unitive way, in conscious union with the eyes of God, what we see is qualitatively different. Basically, it is no longer self-referential but very expansive seeing because we are participating in the larger reality of God, which is Love. This changes everything. This is what the true contemplative is seeking, and thus seeing, day after day.
Gateway to Silence:
Remain in my love. —John 15:9
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 61-62.