Jung: Week 1
A Homing Device: Both From and Toward
Friday, October 9, 2015
“Life is a luminous pause between two great mysteries, which themselves are one.” —C. G. Jung
The archetypal idea of “home” points in two directions at once. It points backward toward an original hint and taste for union, starting in the body of our mother. We all came from some kind of home in God that plants a foundational seed of a possible and ideal paradise. I realize that early abuse or a highly dysfunctional family can severely scar this original blessing, but ironically it sometimes also increases our desire and capacity for it. The archetype of home also points us forward, urging us toward the realization that this hint and taste of union might actually be true and our very goal! It guides us like an inner compass or a “homing” device. In Homer’s Odyssey, it is the same home, the island Ithaca, that is both the beginning and the end of the journey. That is precisely what I want to say here. We come from God and we return to God and everything in between is a lesson, a seduction, and an invitation.
Somehow the end is in the beginning and the beginning points us toward the end. We are told that even children with a sad or abusive childhood still long for “home” or “Mother” in some idealized form and still yearn to return to her somehow, maybe just to do it right this time. No wonder we deeply need feminine images for God. Agreeing with Jung, I believe that the One Great Mystery is revealed at the beginning and forever beckons us forward toward its full realization. Most of us cannot let go of this implanted promise, and it often feels like the Divine Mother. Jung felt, as do I, that only presenting a masculine God was a major deficiency, particularly in Protestant Christianity.
Some would call this homing device their soul, some would call it the indwelling Holy Spirit (often imagined as feminine), and some might just call it nostalgia or dreamtime. All I know is that it will not and cannot be ignored. It calls us both backward and forward, to our foundation and our future at the same time. It also feels like a grace from within us and at the same time a beckoning grace out ahead of us. The soul lives in such eternally deep time, but we must learn how to go there and then how to abide there as much as possible. Basically, that is the meaning of prayer. Wouldn’t it make sense that God would plant in us a desire for what God already wants to give us? Prayer could be described as just listening for that deepest level of our desiring, every day.
There is an inherent and desirous dissatisfaction that both sends us and draws us forward, and it comes from our original and radical union with God. Jung said the God Image is a whole-making function. What appears to be past and future is in fact the same home, the same call, the same Mother, and the same God—but always a larger life on both ends. To live inside of the Divine is to live in deep time, where before and after become one. Our “life is indeed a luminous pause between two great mysteries, which themselves are one.” That line alone would allow me to call Carl Jung a mini mystic! Mystics always speak the unspeakable which can never be proven rationally, yet at our deepest level we know that what they say is truth.
Gateway to Silence:
God-in-me sees God.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 88-89.