Father Richard begins his book The Universal Christ by quoting English mystic Caryll Houselander (1901–1954), who experienced Christ in the faces of people around her while riding the subway and walking through London. From that mystical experience, she knew:
Christ is everywhere; in [Christ] every kind of life has a meaning and has an influence on every other kind of life. It is not the foolish sinner like myself, running about the world with reprobates and feeling magnanimous, who comes closest to them and brings them healing; it is the contemplative in her cell who has never set eyes on them, but in whom Christ fasts and prays for them—or it may be a charwoman in whom Christ makes Himself a servant again, or a [ruler] whose crown of gold hides a crown of thorns. Realization of our oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness. For me, too, it is the only ultimate meaning of life, the only thing that gives meaning and purpose to every life. 
Father Richard continues:
The question for me—and for us—is: Who is this “Christ” that Caryll Houselander saw permeating and radiating from all her fellow passengers? Christ for her was clearly not only Jesus of Nazareth but something much more immense, even cosmic, in significance. I believe this vision, once encountered, has power to radically alter what we believe, how we see others and relate to them, our sense of how big God might be, and our understanding of what the Creator is doing in our world.
A cosmic notion of the Christ competes with and excludes no one, but includes everyone and everything (Acts 10:15, 34). In this understanding of Christianity’s message, the Creator’s love and presence are grounded in the created world, and any mental distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” falls apart.
When I know that the world around me is both the hiding place and the revelation place of God, I can no longer maintain a significant distance between the natural and the supernatural, between the holy and the profane. (A divine “voice” makes this exactly clear to a very resistant Peter in Acts 10.) Everything I see and know is indeed one “universe” that revolves around one coherent center. This Divine Presence seeks connection and communion, not separation or division—except for the sake of an even deeper future union. What a difference this makes in the way we walk through the world, in how we encounter every person in the course of a day! It is as though everything that seemed disappointing and “fallen,” all the major pushbacks against the flow of history, can now be seen as one whole movement, still enchanted and made use of by God’s love. All of it must somehow be usable and filled with potency, even the things that appear as betrayals or crucifixions.
 Caryll Houselander, A Rocking-Horse Catholic (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1955), 139–140.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019, 2021), 3, 7, 15.
Explore Further. . .
- Read more from Caryll Houselander.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 11 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Arthur Allen, Untitled 4 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Florence Morning (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.
This week’s image appears in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: She sees the leaves in the ice, gathers the small, unnoticed things, and cherishes her findings. We accept the mystic’s invitation to sit and ponder.
Story from Our Community:
I was walking up the street in our town. Ahead of me I saw a woman sitting on a bench, and another woman standing nearby holding a leash. A boxer (dog) had his front paws on the woman’s shoulders and was nuzzling her right ear. She was giggling. He looked towards me, jumped down, and peacefully walked towards me. I knew I was next in line for his loving embrace. God was in that moment, showing me that there is always enough love and time. —Irene C.
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.