Life-Death-Life — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Death and Resurrection: Week 2

Friday, November 23, 2018

The whole process of living, dying, and then living again starts with YHWH “breathing into clay,” which becomes “a living being” called Adam (“of the earth”; see Genesis 2:7). Breath and what appears to be mere dirt become human (the word “human” comes from the Latin humus). Matter and spirit are bound together; divine and mortal interpenetrate and manifest one another. The Formless One forever takes on form as “Adam and Eve” (and in Jesus “the new Adam”), and then takes us back to the Formless One, once again, as each form painfully surrenders the small self that it has been for a while. Jesus says, “I am returning to take you with me, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3). Resurrection is simply incarnation taken to its logical conclusion: what starts in God ends in God—who is eternal.

Buddhists are looking at the same Mystery from a different angle when they say, “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form,” and then all forms eventually return to formlessness (spirit or “emptiness”) once again. Christians call it incarnation > death > resurrection > ascension. This is about all of us, including all of creation—not just Jesus—coming forth as individuals and then going back to God, into the Ground of All Being. That cyclical wholeness should make us unafraid of death and thus able to fully appreciate life.

The Risen Christ represents the final and full state of every True Self: God-in-you who is able to see and honor God-everywhere-beyond-you too! In other words, Christ is more than anything else a “holon”—a scientific term for something that is simultaneously a whole by itself and yet a part of a larger whole, too. Jesus is telling us that we are all holons! We all participate in the one single life of God.

“To God, all people are in fact alive,” as Jesus put it (Luke 20:38). We are just in different stages of that aliveness—one of which we experience as dying.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 81-84.

Image credit: Autumn Leaves (detail), Koan, 2018.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: As I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times. —Parker Palmer
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