Unveiling the Universal Christ
Week Thirty-Four Summary and Practice
Sunday, August 22—Friday, August 27, 2021
The Christ Mystery that Paul speaks of in Colossians 1 is the indwelling of the Divine Presence in everyone and everything.
If we can believe that we are loved just as we are and that everything else is equally loved, we unveil a cosmic reality that is life-giving and a Christ-like reality that affirms the goodness of all creation. —Barbara Holmes
The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize the divine image in everyone and every thing. It is to mirror things correctly, deeply, and fully until all things know who they are.
When Christ calls himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), he is not telling us to look just at him, but to look out at life with his all-merciful eyes. We see him so we can see like him, and with the same infinite compassion.
The Universal Christ helps us to see that we can follow the embodied Jesus, accept the suffering fact that “in this life, you will have trouble” [John 16:33], while also knowing that all creation is moving and evolving toward more diversity, creativity, and wholeness. —Barbara Holmes
Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. —Pelagius
Encountering Christ in Nature
Without a sense of the inherent sacredness of the world—of every tiny bit of life and death—we struggle to see God in our own reality, let alone to respect reality, protect it, or love it. The consequences of this ignorance are all around us, seen in the way we have exploited and damaged our fellow human beings, the dear animals, the web of growing things, the land, the waters, and the very air. My good friend and co-author Patrick Boland invites us to experience Christ in nature:
What difference would it make to the quality of our lives, I wonder, if we spent a little more time in nature? Would paying attention to the life cycles of animals or the annual changes of landscapes give us an increased sense of respect for the environment? How would eating seasonal local food affect our patterns of consumption and our health and well-being? Ordinary experiences of nature can renew our sense of reverence and remind us of how deeply interconnected we all are.
Spend some time in nature, ideally somewhere you can encounter at least one animal. This could be any of the following places:
- In a garden
- In a field
- In a forest
- By the coast
Go anywhere that feels wild and alive. (If this is difficult for you to do, watch a video clip of your favorite landscapes or some wildlife footage.)
- At some point during your time in nature, quiet your body and pay attention to the beauty, the complexity, and the sacredness of this landscape and any animals with which you share this space.
- Reflect on how God is revealed to you through this first incarnation [of the natural world]. By writing, drawing, or another creative way, express what this evokes within you.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 18; and
Richard Rohr and Patrick Boland, Every Thing Is Sacred: 40 Practices and Reflections on the Universal Christ (Convergent: 2021), 37–39.