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Center for Action and Contemplation

Growing in the Divine Likeness

Friday, December 28, 2018

Image and Likeness: Summary

Growing in the Divine Likeness
Friday, December 28, 2018

Today I share more from Tilden Edwards as he emphasizes the importance of lowering the mind into the heart in order to grow in likeness to God.

My interpretation of the early Christian desert elders’ over-encouragement of allowing the mind to sink into the heart is that the mind needs to bathe in the contemplative heart’s more naked availability to the gracious Presence, from whence the mind’s fundamental spiritual insights emerge.

As our spiritual journey proceeds in grace, yearning, and willingness, we find our egos and our thinking, imaging, and subconscious minds, along with our bodily senses, more and more free to be vessels of the communing, loving Light shown us in our contemplative hearts, albeit never completely in this life. . . .

The flow of this liberating, living Light slowly melts away many of the attachments in us that divide us from our true being in God. In our awareness of forgetful, agitated, and willful/sinful times, we become more accepting of the forgiving and encouraging love and image-of-God dignity that is ours as we turn to the gracious Presence. That dignity still lives in our core being right through every physical and mental disability that we might endure in life. . . .

The widespread contemplative re-awakening in recent decades . . . is, I believe, a Spirit-inspired response to the wide scale shrinkage of our identity and capacity to ego, mind, and feelings alone in what has been taught about our human nature in both Western religious bodies and secular culture over the past 500 years. Awareness and cultivation of the contemplative heart as a profound faculty for knowing deep reality has been unrecognized or marginalized. Many . . . yearn for something more than they’ve normally been given in terms of understanding the mutually indwelling intimacy of human and divine nature and the path to its incarnate fullness. It’s an intrinsic God-given longing to realize the hidden divine radiance shining in us and all creation.

The rise of contemplative practice today stems . . . from the desire to grow more fully into who we really are. We need to cultivate spiritual communities . . . where there is mutual support, challenge, and practices to foster the lifetime journey from the image to the likeness of God. . . . Listening and responding together from the contemplative heart in all societal settings can further the maturing of human relationships, purpose, and inclusive societal well-being: the ripening of the communal kin-dom of heaven.

Tilden Edwards, “Aging from the Contemplative Heart,” “Ripening,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), 50-52.

Image credit: Venus (detail), 2008
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in everything. —Richard Rohr
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