For as the heavens reach beyond earth and time,
we swim in mercy as in an endless sea. —Psalm 103:11
Cynthia Bourgeault explores the idea that mystical hope is something that arises from within us, not as a result of our own effort, but as a fruit of our ability to consciously abide in what she calls “the Mercy” of God. Bourgeault writes:
We ourselves are not the source of that [mystical] hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deep within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it. . . .
The term I will use to describe this embodying fullness is “the Mercy.” It is the water in which we swim. Mercy is the length and breadth and height and depth of what we know of God—and the light by which we know it. You might even think of it as the Being of God insofar as we can possibly penetrate into it in this life, so that it is impossible to encounter God apart from the dimension of mercy. . . .
The mercy of God . . . is unconditional—always there, underlying everything. It is literally the force that holds everything in existence, the gravitational field in which we live and move and have our being. . . . Mercy is God’s innermost being turned outward to sustain the visible and created world in unbreakable love. . . .
Mystical hope would simply be what happens when we touch this innermost ground [within our own selves] and it floods forth into our being as strength and joy. Hope would be the Mercy—divine love itself—coursing through our being like lightning finding a clear path to the ground. . . .
In this new positioning, the underlying sense of corporateness [oneness] is physically real, for that “electromagnetic field of love” is the Mercy—and the Mercy is the body of Christ. Through this body hope circulates as a lifeblood. It warms, it fills, it connects, it directs. It is the heart of our own life and the heart of all that lives.
Hope’s home is at the innermost point in us, and in all things. It is a quality of aliveness. It does not come at the end, as the feeling that results from a happy outcome. Rather, it lies at the beginning, as a pulse of truth that sends us forth. When our innermost being is attuned to this pulse it will send us forth in hope, regardless of the physical circumstances of our lives. Hope fills us with the strength to stay present, to abide in the flow of the Mercy no matter what outer storms assail us. It is entered always and only through surrender; that is, through the willingness to let go of everything we are presently clinging to. And yet when we enter it, it enters us and fills us with its own life—a quiet strength beyond anything we have ever known.
Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cowley Publications: 2001), 20–21, 25, 34, 86–87.
Story from Our Community:
I grew up never hearing about a God of love, only a God who had his (and God could only be a male) thumb ready to pounce on the merest of transgressions. I grew up with a very real fear of God. When a friend introduced me to Fr. Richard’s daily offerings, my worldview and perception of God opened up even more and does so continually. Many, many thanks for your gifts of hope and love and possibilities I never dreamed of. —Diane M.
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