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Center for Action and Contemplation

Made for Love

Monday, April 30, 2018


Made for Love
Monday, April 30, 2018

It is an entirely relational universe. If, at any time, we try to stop this life flow moving through us, with us, and in us, we fall into the true state of sin (and it is much more a state than a momentary behavior). What we call “sins” cannot really separate us from God, because Divine Love is unilateral and unconditional and is not dependent on our receiving it. Rather it is our lonely and fearful illusion of separateness that makes us do sinful and selfish things. Try to make that switch in your understanding, and it will send you on a much more authentic spiritual path.

Love must flow both toward us and out from us, or we do not experience or enjoy its full effects. The Law of Flow is simple, and Jesus states it in many different formulations, such as “Happy are the merciful; they shall have mercy shown to them” (Matthew 5:7).

Sin is a refusal of mutuality and a closing down into separateness. In his classic book, The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis has a ghostly soul in hell shouting out, “I don’t want help. I want to be left alone.” [1] Whenever we refuse mutuality toward anything, whenever we won’t allow our deep inner-connectedness to guide us, whenever we’re not attuned to both receiving and giving, you could say that the Holy Spirit is existentially (but not essentially) absent from our lives.

Toxic, psychopathic, or sociopathic people cannot maintain or sustain relationships. They run from connection and commitment. Usually they are loners in a foundational way or they at least make interactions with them very difficult.

I once met a psychiatrist who said something to me that initially I thought was an overstatement: “Richard, at the end of your life, you’ll realize that every mentally ill person you’ve ever worked with is basically lonely.”

“Oh, come on, that’s a little glib, isn’t it?” I replied.

“Oh, I admit, there are surely physiological reasons for much mental illness, but loneliness might just be what activates it. Every case of nonphysiologically-based mental illness stems from a person who has been separated, cut off, living alone, and has forgotten how to relate in one way or another.” I still wonder if that might be true.

That’s probably why God created the sexual drive—the instinct for personal intimacy and mutual giving of delight—to be so strong in most humans. (Sexuality is a much broader experience than genital intercourse for the purpose of reproduction.) When you allow yourself to be separated from self and others you become sick, toxic, and can do some very evil things—and not even think of them as evil.

If God is absolute relatedness, then any notion of salvation is simply the readiness, the capacity, and the willingness to stay in relationship (which almost always involves forgiveness). When the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, wrote, “Hell is other people,” he was, at least momentarily, in hell himself.

We—not you alone, nor me alone, but we—are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in an absolute relatedness of self-emptying and infilling.

This is love. Outside of this flow and communion, we all die very quickly.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce: A Dream (HarperCollins: 2001, ©1946), 59.

[2] See Richard Rohr’s meditations on Gender and Sexuality, week 1 and week 2, and Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 1991, 2006, 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 45-47, 56-57.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Love is the most powerful force or energy in the universe. That power is multiplied in relationships. Love’s potency is released most powerfully among people who have formed a relationship. —Louis Savary and Patricia Berne
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