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Center for Action and Contemplation

Gates to the Temple

Sunday, November 12, 2017

God as Us: Week 2

Gates to the Temple
Sunday, November 12, 2017

Authentic love is about giving a bit of myself to another—and, in this surrender, something new is created, whether a baby or another form of life and beauty. The flow of love is a divine experience mirroring the relationship within the Trinity. That’s why I’m calling this series of meditations “God as Us.” I know it is a daring title, but I wanted to allow you to connect your varied experiences of embodiment—through gender, sexuality, physicality—with the very life of God flowing through you. We are “co-creators” with God in a world that is continually evolving and unfolding (Romans 8:28), not just passive observers.

In the midst of lovemaking, we realize that there is a third element that is beyond us or our beloved. In the Christian Trinitarian view, we call this third energy the Holy Spirit. Unconditional, unselfish love—where I love and care for the other for their own sake, even to the point of suffering for their good and seeking their pleasure more than my own—takes us to a level beyond separation, a place where we are one even if we are far apart physically or in time.

I’ve witnessed this eternal, unbreakable intimacy in many whose partner has passed away. More than one bereaved spouse has said to me, “He’s actually more real, more present to me now than when I had his body.” This means they fully experienced “the bridal chamber” or the divine espousals, to use mystical language. We are part of the divine lovemaking in which we are both making love and being made love to in the same action. This is experienced as an energy and life that is larger than our own. We are merely along for the ride!

Of course, the greater the light there is in something, the greater the shadow it casts. Sexuality and false intimacy also have the power to destroy and wound. No wonder there are so many taboos around sexuality. It has been said, “Where nothing is forbidden, nothing is required.” Because there’s something so significant required of the soul to make love, I’m not surprised religions have created so many moralistic guidelines (even if a lot of them were not very helpful or healing). Impulse control is certainly a valuable skill for an adolescent to learn, but too often the Church’s teaching just led to shame or pre-emptive repression rather than healthy sexuality. (This is not to say that all free expression is wonderful, moral, or even helpful!)

What is so important and essential here? I believe it’s simply this: You are a sacred image of the Divine, you are a co-creator with God, so respect your own embodiment—and the sacred embodiment of the other. Let Paul speak his truth here: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? The temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

I believe the temple happens when “two solitudes protect and border and greet each other,” as Rilke so perfectly put it. [1] This alone is the sacred temple. We do not create this temple; we only occasionally dwell within it—by a daring respect and a risky surrender. [2]

Gateway to Silence:
We are temples of God.

[1] Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Franz Xaver Kappus on May 14, 1904. See Letters to a Young Poet, trans. Stephen Mitchell (Vintage Books: 1986, ©1984), 78.
[2] See Richard Rohr, Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991), CD, MP3 download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, God as Us! The Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, disc 5 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011), CD, DVD, MP3 download.

Image credit: Shy Boy, Juarez, Mexico, 2009. CAC archives.
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