A Mutually Loving Gaze — Center for Action and Contemplation
×

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.

Nothing Stands Alone

A Mutually Loving Gaze

Monday, January 3rd, 2022

Our Daily Meditations theme this year reflects the reality that nothing stands alone. Father Richard describes the intimate relationship we experience when we allow ourselves to be loved, seen, and “gazed upon” by God:

I believe that we do not have real access to who we fully are except in God. Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the scary freedom to be who we are, all that we are, and much more than we think we are, “warts and all.” (Make sure you need to be forgiven for something or you will never know this!) It’s only when we find ourselves in God, and live and see through God’s eyes that “everything belongs.” All other systems exclude, expel, punish, and protect to find identity for their members in some kind of ideological perfection or separate superiority. Most think “the contaminating element” must be searched out, isolated, and often punished. This wasted effort keeps us from the centrally important task of love and union.

To have naked interface with the Ultimate Other is to know one’s self in one’s truest and deepest being. When we allow ourselves to be perfectly received, totally gazed upon by the One who knows everything and receives everything, we are indestructible.

If we can learn how to receive the perfect gaze of the Other, and to be mirrored by the Other, then the voices of the human crowd, even negative ones, have little power to hurt us. Best of all, as Meister Eckhart (1260–1327) has been quoted, “The eye with which you will look back at God will be the same eye with which God first looked at you.” [1]

Standing humbly before God’s gaze not only unites the psyche but it does the very thing that I know when I teach contemplative prayer. It unifies desire. It frees us from what Henri de Lubac (1896–1991) called the “vertigo of the imagination.” [2] It’s the whirlpool of imagination, looking here, there, and everywhere. Standing before one, accepting God literally allows us to be composed and gathered in one place. We can be in one place; we can be here, now. We can stop always looking over there for tomorrow’s happiness. As the apostle Paul wrote, “now is the favorable time, today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

We see that Paul understands this in a most beautiful paragraph from his Second Letter to the Corinthians. He says, “We with our unveiled faces will gradually reflect like mirrors the brightness of the Lord. All will grow brighter and brighter as we are gradually turned into the image that we reflect” (3:18). That’s it!

It doesn’t have to do with being perfect. It has to do with being in relationship, holding onto union as tightly as God holds onto us, staying in there. The one who knows all and receives all, as a mirror does, has no trouble forgiving all. It’s not a matter of being correct, but of being connected.

References:
[1] Meister Eckhart, Qui Audit Me Non Confundetur (Whoever Hears Me Is Not Ashamed), Sermon on Sirach 24:30. Eckhart used the Latin Vulgate Bible; this verse is Sirach 24:22 in later translations. This apocryphal text is in Catholic but not Protestant Bibles.

[2] Henri de Lubac, The Discovery of God, trans. Alexander Dru (New York: P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1960), 45.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 94; and

Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Cincinnati: Franciscan Media, 2008), 65, 67.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 1-3 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.

Image Inspiration: In this triptych, we begin by seeing just one fruit. Moving to the center photo, we see the whole tree. When we look at the third photo, we bring with us the knowledge that there is more to this tree, an abundance of fruit. It’s not alone. Nothing stands alone.

Story from Our Community:

How can I have compassion for another if I cannot have compassion for myself? How can I feel empathy for another if I cannot feel empathy for myself? The common denominator of inclusiveness, of a sense of shared humanity and of our human solidarity, is that to be human is first and foremost to be a person on the way.
—Brad M.

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.


Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.