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Center for Action and Contemplation
Heaven Now
Heaven Now

Finding Our Life

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Heaven Now

Finding Our Life
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it. Anyone who loses her life will find it. —Matthew 16:25

This passage from Matthew is a very strong, almost brutal statement from Jesus. It has perhaps been discussed, dismissed, misunderstood, and conveniently forgotten more than almost anything he said. It is just too counter-intuitive.

I believe Jesus says this in such a strong and absolute way because he knows that the human ego fixes upon roles, titles, status symbols, and concocted self-images;       and he wants us to know that these are passing creations of our own minds and culture. They are not, in that sense, objectively “real.” Nor are they our true and deepest self. All of these images must die if we want the Real, but they do not die easily because we have mistaken them for elements of our real self for most of our life. We all suffer from a tragic case of mistaken identity.

The Real is that to which all the world religions point when they speak of heaven, nirvana, bliss, eternity, or enlightenment. Our mistake was that most Christians delayed this inner state until after death. This distorted and misshaped the spiritual search, making it into a cheap reward and punishment system—for later. Honestly, it too often attracted fear-based or self-interested people, not really lovers.

The human ego wants two things: It wants to be separate and it wants to be superior! This is why Jesus says this self must “die” for something much better to be “found.” As long as the ego is in control, not much new will ever happen.

Sit with this mystery as you read the following poem by David Whyte:

After the good earth
where the body knows itself to be real
and the mad flight
where it gives itself to the world,
we give ourselves to the rhythm of love
leaving the breath
to know its way home.

And after the first pure fall,
the last letting go, and the calm
breath where we go to rest,
we’ll return again to find it
and feel again the body welcomed,
the body held,
the strong arms of the world,
the water, the waking at dawn
and the thankful, almost forgotten,
curling to sleep with the dark. 

The old wild place beyond all shame. [1]

If authentic God-experience first inspires you to overcome the primary split between yourself and the Divine, then it should also inspire you to overcome the split between yourself and the rest of creation. For many people, union with the Divine is experienced in nature, with animals, through a sense of awe, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, or some kind of Franciscan “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” experience.

Mystical experience connects us and just keeps connecting at ever-wider levels, breadths, and depths, “until God can be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) or, as Paul also says, “The world, life and death, the present and the future are all your servants, for you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). Full salvation is finally universal belonging and universal connecting. Our common word for that is some kind of “heaven.”

[1] David Whyte, “The Old Wild Place,” Fire in the Earth (Many Rivers Press: 2002), 55. Used with permission.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 90-91; and

A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publishing: 2016), 225-226.

Image credit: La Sieste (detail), Paul Gauguin, 1892–1894, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The here-and-now has the power to become the gateway and the breakthrough point to the universal. The concrete, the specific, the physical, the here-and-now—when we can be present to it in all of its ordinariness—becomes the gateway to the Eternal. —Richard Rohr
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