Spirituality of Imperfection: Week 1
Friday, July 22, 2016
We can’t seem to know the good news that we are God’s beloveds on our own. It has to be mirrored to us. We’re essentially social beings. Another has to tell us we are beloved and good. Within contemplative prayer, we present ourselves for the ultimate gaze, the ultimate mirroring. Before this gaze of Love, we gradually disrobe and allow ourselves to be seen, to be known in every nook and cranny, nothing hidden, nothing denied, nothing disguised. It’s like lovemaking. The wonderful thing is, after a while, we feel so safe that we know we don’t have to pretend or disguise any more. We don’t have to put on any kind of costume.
Letting your naked self be known by God is always to recognize your need for mercy and your own utter inadequacy and littleness. You realize that even the best things you’ve done have often been for mixed and selfish motives, not really for love. The saints often weep in the middle of prayer because they recognize how tiny they are in the presence of such Infinity. Your need for mercy draws you close to God. It’s a wonderful and humiliating experience. Within contemplation, you stand under an immense waterfall of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.
Knowing your need for mercy opens you to receiving mercy. Knowing your intimate need for mercy is in great part what it means to know, need, or fall in love with God, because God is mercy itself and must be experienced as such! If you live like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:9-14), where you do everything perfectly and you are never in need of mercy, then you will never know God! So don’t be too good, even in your own eyes. Make sure you always and happily stand on the receiving end of God, just like the Three Persons of the Trinity do to one another, where self-emptying always precedes any new outpouring.
Frankly, it all comes down to this: God doesn’t love you because you are good. God loves you because God is good!
Gateway to Silence:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” —Zechariah 4:6
Adapted from Richard Rohr, True Self/False Self (Franciscan Media: 2003), discs 1 and 2 (CD).