Images of God
Week Forty-Eight Summary and Practice
Sunday, November 28—Friday, December 3, 2021
There is an absolute connection between how we see God and how we see ourselves and the universe. —Richard Rohr
Our DNA is divine, and the divine indwelling is never earned by any behavior or any ritual, but only recognized and realized (see Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8–10) and fallen in love with. —Richard Rohr
I have allowed God to be mediated to me through images of God foreign to the very idea of God: God the puppeteer, God the potentate, God the persecutor make a mockery of the very definition of God. —Joan Chittister
Although Jesus was clearly of the masculine gender, the Universal Christ is beyond gender, and so it should be expected that the Big Tradition would have found feminine ways, consciously or unconsciously, to symbolize the full Divine Incarnation and to give God a more feminine character—as the Bible itself often does. —Richard Rohr
In its truest sense, religion should reconnect human beings—bind them again—to the creation, to one another, to the Divine, to Love. —Jacqui Lewis
Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we end up not seeing it very well at all. —Richard Rohr
God the Nourisher
The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing and one love. —Meister Eckhart, Sermon on Sirach 24:30 
At the seventh and final CONSPIRE conference that took place in September of this year, Father Richard led the gathered online community in contemplative prayer using this maternal image of God.
Without exaggerating I think we can say that all of us live in the mirror of others’ eyes. We’re told that the first time a child can focus their eyes it’s almost exactly the number of inches between the mother’s breast and the child’s eyes, and that’s why the child becomes fixated on the mother. In fact, they become fixated on one another. Science tells us that what’s happening on the neural level is that there’s a huge release of oxytocin, the big joy hormone. It’s like “Wow, this is good!” Neither of them wants to leave.  This is apparently the creation of “mirror neurons” in both mother and child, which makes them capable of attachment, intimacy, and basic relationship.
When we’re sitting in prayer, we’re waiting for a gaze like that—one we can trust will not change, a gaze that is utterly reliable. We’re waiting for a gaze that will fixate on us, tell us that we’re good, we’re special, we’re enough, we’re beloved. Choose your good word because it’s always a good word! I’d go so far as to say this is the beginning of the inner journey of transformation. We spend the rest of our lives, through friends and partners and even our own children, searching for a repeat of that gaze that matters.
This gaze is our entrance into the trinitarian flow and once we’re there, we’re there. Now we have to keep re-choosing it, being reminded of it, allowing it. That’s what we’re doing when we sit in contemplative prayer. Just sitting, allowing the gaze, choosing the gaze, enjoying the divine gaze. Eventually we do have to come out of the eternal gaze as our prayer sit ends, but not really. Stay in the trinitarian flow, which isn’t mere theology, but the very shape of the universe.
In Christian metaphysics we gave each entity of the Trinity a placeholder name, but I want to offer some new names so that we can really hang on to the feeling of it. The Mother is ironically the one we call “Father.” She’s inaugurating the gaze toward the child, whom we call the “Son” (“Daughter” would work just as well, except that Jesus was male). The Child then returns the gaze that was given and received. It’s a bounce back of identity, and thus we have this eternal delighting, loving, admiring, allowing between two—God and Creation.
What then is the third element which keeps the dynamic moving? It is rather perfectly symbolized by the “Divine breast” that feeds and nurtures the Child and is thus being handed over to feed and nurture everything else. It’s not risky theology at all. In fact, it’s almost too perfect, and I hope it helps us to stay in that loving gaze and flow all day long, even as we change places. Are we the giver, the receiver, the enjoyer, the feeder, the nurturer, the source? It doesn’t matter which role we’re momentarily in. Just stay in for the ride! Sometimes you are Lover, sometimes you are Beloved, and sometimes you are the “act” of Loving itself.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
 This apocryphal book is included in Catholic but not Protestant Bibles. Also, Eckhart used the Latin Vulgate; today, his selected verse would be identified as Sirach 24:22.
 It’s well-demonstrated that bottle-fed babies and their mothers and caregivers also share these intimate gazing experiences and the benefits of this close and nurturing contact.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, CONSPIRE 2021 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2021).
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