Image and Likeness: Summary: Weekly Summary

Image and Likeness: Summary

Summary: Sunday, December 23-Friday, December 28, 2018

When we see the image of God where we are not accustomed to seeing the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own. (Sunday)

The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in everything. (Monday)

From the very beginning, faith, hope, and love are planted deep within our nature—indeed they are our very nature (Romans 5:5, 8:14-17). But we have to awaken, allow, and advance this core identity by saying a conscious yes to it and drawing upon it as a reliable and Absolute Source. (Tuesday)

For the planet and for all living beings to move forward, we can rely on nothing less than an inherent original goodness and a universally shared dignity. Only then can we build, because the foundation is strong, and is itself good. (Wednesday)

Some of the early Church Fathers well summarized the nature and purpose of our lives when they said that we are born in the image of God and meant to grow into the full likeness of God. —Tilden Edwards (Thursday)

The rise of contemplative practice today stems . . . from the desire to grow more fully into who we really are. We need to cultivate spiritual communities . . . where there is mutual support, challenge, and practices to foster the lifetime journey from the image to the likeness of God. —Tilden Edwards (Friday)

 

Practice: Mirroring

Over the past year we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’ve looked for God’s image and likeness in many forms and places, perhaps some that surprised you: the natural world, human bodies and sexuality, poetry (from the Psalms to rap), justice, economics, politics (yes, spirituality includes politics), other faith traditions, even suffering and death. [1]

Where do you find it hardest to recognize the divine image? Will you trust that this person or being is indwelled by God—who is Love? Because of wounding or ego’s resistance, they may not be actively saying “yes” to and growing in Love’s likeness. Yet they still have inherent dignity and are infinitely lovable. It takes practice to see what we’re not accustomed to seeing. I find it helpful to connect with the loving Source within myself and then expand that awareness to others. This is a contemplative practice.

Take some time to rest in God’s presence. Allow God’s loving, compassionate gaze to soften your heart. Notice any sensations in your body, if you feel tension or resistance, warmth or release. Send loving attention to each of those places. If you feel pain or sorrow, know that God is intimately present with suffering. You are not broken or damaged. As James Finley often says, “You are not what has happened to you. Only Love has the final word in who you are.”

Draw upon this Love in yourself. Be filled to overflowing with Love. Gradually turn your gaze outward, picturing people you know and strangers you’ve never met, faces around the world. Imagine Love gazing back at you from their eyes. Return their gazes with Love. God—who is Love—is with and in each of you.

Reference:
[1] See an outline with links to topical summaries throughout 2018.

 

For Further Study:
Tilden Edwards and others, “Ripening,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013)

Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroads Publishing Company: 2003)

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019)

Image credit: Venus (detail), 2008
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in everything. —Richard Rohr

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