The Second Gaze
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Contemplation helps us to actually experience our experiences so that they can become transformational. Contemplation exposes our small self so that we can be open to our Big Self, which many of us call “God.” This week we will explore what the contemplative mind is and how it is necessary—in some form—to allow us to rediscover our inherent divine “image” and grow into our “likeness” of God. Without contemplative consciousness, we live on the surface of our own experiences and our own self.
The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.
From the very beginning, we see that nature is good, humans are good, and God is good. I have never met a loving human being who did not also believe in the foundational goodness of people and all of creation. We are sons and daughters of God, and all creatures are our brothers and sisters. We come forth from God, we have the privilege of co-creating with God, and we will return to God. Each being uniquely reflects part of the mystery of God for a while on this earth, before returning home. Remember, the divine image is objectively held by all people, but we each have to choose to grow in our likeness to God. That is our primary task on this earth. God always sees and loves the image; we tend to get distracted by the likeness.
We must discover and accept what unique part of the divine mystery is ours to reflect. All each of us can give back to God is what God has already given to us. We must choose it, respect it, and allow it to blossom. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality, to trust our divine image and grow in God’s likeness. It is simply a matter of becoming who we already are.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 96-97; and
Contemplative Prayer (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2003), CD, MP3 download.