Introduction: Image and Likeness
The “image” described in Genesis refers to our eternal essence in God which cannot be increased or decreased. “Likeness” refers to our personal and unique embodiment of that inner divine image. It is our gradual realization of this gift. (Sunday)
My goal in the coming year of meditations is to offer new perspectives and applications of the foundational, mystical truth that we—and all of creation—are made in the image and likeness of God. (Monday)
I agree that we can and should name evil as evil. But unless we first name the underlying goodness and coherence of reality, along with our own imperfection, we will attack it with methods and self-righteousness that will only deepen the problem. (Tuesday)
This is perhaps the clearest way to describe God’s unconditional acceptance and forgiveness: We are never an object to God. God cannot not love God’s image in us. This is the eternal covenant. God loves us center to center. (Wednesday)
We already and always have the divine image (imago Dei) within us; but we hopefully grow into the divine likeness (similitude), as we begin to externally resemble the goodness of God. (Thursday)
You cannot not live in the presence of God. You are totally surrounded and infused by God. (Friday)
This year as we explore the places in which God’s presence has been ignored or forgotten, you may be challenged at times. I may say things that you disagree with or that make you uncomfortable. And that’s okay! If we’re not at least a bit uncomfortable, we’re probably not really thinking or growing. Don’t rely on my authority. Let the wisdom of Scripture, your faith tradition, and your own lived experience teach you.
Most importantly, I invite you to hold my many words in the spaciousness of contemplative practice, letting the meditations work on you more than you work on understanding them. The deepest truths can’t be grasped at the level of intellect. Christianity can’t just be based on beliefs. It only becomes authentic and transformative through experience and practice, when head, heart, and body are all open and receptive.
As I said earlier this week, you can’t earn God’s image or prove yourself worthy of God. Feeling God’s presence is simply a matter of awareness. Of enjoying the now. Deepening one’s presence. There are moments when it happens. Then life makes sense. Contemplative practice helps us become habituated to this way of being, opening ourselves to presence in the ordinary and humdrum.
Once I can see the Mystery here—and trust the Mystery even in this piece of clay that I am, in this moment of time that I am—then I can also see it in you. I am eventually able to see the divine image in all things. Finally, the seeing is one. How you see anything is how you will see everything.
This seeing happens in graced, momentary glimpses and through intentional, lifelong practice. Each Saturday I’ll share an invitation to a different form of contemplation or meditation in hopes that you’ll find one or more that resonate. There are so many ways to open ourselves to communion and presence, from sitting in silence to drumming, dancing, singing, and being in nature. Sometimes it might sound silly, but don’t discount the power and depth of a simple, even childlike experience. To begin, click here to watch three short videos on the meaning and importance of practice-based spirituality and explore several contemplative practices.
Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 57-58.
For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016)
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003)
Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013)