The Path of Descent
Love Is Stronger than Death
Friday, March 27, 2020
The Path of Descent is very real and usually very painful, but something else is equally true. Love is both who we are and who we are still becoming, like a sunflower seed that becomes its own sunflower. It seems to be a fully cooperative effort according to St. Paul (Romans 8:28), and according to my limited experience too. God never coerces us toward life or love by any threats whatsoever. Yes, God seduces us, but coercion? Never (see Jeremiah 20:7; Matthew 11:28–30). Whoever this God is, he or she is utterly free. Love cannot happen any other way. Love flourishes inside freedom and then increases that freedom even more.
We are all allowed to ride life and love’s wonderful mystery for a few years—until life and love reveal themselves as the same thing, which is the final and full message of the risen Christ—life morphing into a love that is beyond space and time. God literally “breathes” shalom and forgiveness into the universal air (John 20:22–23). We get to add our own finishing touches of love, our own life breath to the Great Breath, and then we return the completed package to its maker in a brand-new but also same form.
I believe the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus is summed up in the climactic line from the Song of Songs, “love is stronger than death” (8:6). If the blank white banner that the Risen Christ usually holds in Christian art should say anything, it should say: “Love will win!” Love is all that remains. Love and life are finally the same thing, and we know that for ourselves once we have walked through death.
Love has you. Love is you. Love alone, and your deep need for love, recognizes love everywhere else. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. Any fear “that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is absurd” (Romans 3:3), says Paul. Love has finally overcome fear, and your house is being rebuilt on a new and solid foundation. This foundation was always there, but it takes us a long time to find it. “It is love alone that lasts” (1 Corinthians 13:13). All you have loved in your life and been loved by are eternal and true.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 176–178