Grace: Week 2
Grace Is Key
Monday, February 1, 2016
The following three paragraphs came to me very clearly in a very short time while I was walking along the Pacific Ocean during my Lenten hermitage in 2012. I think they sum up why, for me, grace is the key to accepting all deaths—and experiencing all resurrections.
- The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference. God is the gratuity of absolutely everything. The space in between everything is not space at all but Spirit. God is the “Goodness Glue” that holds the dark and light of things together, the free energy that carries all death across the Great Divide and transmutes it into Life. When we say that Christ “paid the debt once and for all,” it simply means that God’s job is to make up for all deficiencies in the universe. What else would God do? Basically, grace is God’s first name, and probably last too. Grace is what God does to keep all things God has made in love and alive—forever. Grace is God’s official job description. Grace is not something God gives; grace is who God If we are to believe the primary witnesses, an unexplainable goodness is at work in the universe. (Some of us call this phenomenon God, but the word is not necessary. In fact, sometimes it gets in the way of the experience, because too many have named God something other than grace.)
- Death is not just our one physical dying, but it is going to the full depth, hitting the bottom, going the distance, beyond where I am in control, and always beyond where I am now. No wonder it is scary. Such death is called “the descent into hell” in the early Apostles’ Creed, while in other sources, “the pit,” “the dark night,” “Sheol,” or “Hades.” We all die eventually; we have no choice in the matter. But there are degrees of death before the final physical one. If we are honest, we acknowledge that we are dying throughout our life, and this is what we learn if we are attentive: grace is found at the depths and in the death of everything. After these smaller deaths, we know that the only “deadly sin” is to swim on the surface of things, where we never see, find, or desire God or love. This includes even the surface of religion, which might be the worst danger of all. Thus, we must not be afraid of falling, failing, going “down.”
- When you go to the full depths and death, sometimes even the depths of your sin, you can always come out the other side—and the word for that is resurrection. Something or someone builds a bridge for you, recognizable only from the far side, that carries you willingly, or even partly willingly, across. All that we hear from reputable and reliable sources (mystics, shamans, near-death visitors, and “nearing-death experiences”) indicates no one is more surprised and delighted than the traveler himself or herself. Something or someone seems to fill the tragic gap between death and life, but only at the point of no return. None of us crosses over by our own effort or merits, purity, or perfection. We are all carried across by an uncreated and unearned grace—from pope, to president, to princess, to peasant. Worthiness is never the ticket, only deep desire, and the ticket is given in the desiring. The tomb is always finally empty. There are no exceptions to death, and there are no exceptions to grace. And I believe, with good evidence, that there are no exceptions to resurrection.
Gateway to Silence:
Everything is grace.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), xx-xxii.