Love Draws Us Together

Unity and Diversity

Love Draws Us Together
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The third [revelation] is that our Lord God, almighty wisdom, all love, just as truly as [God] has made everything that is, so truly [God] does and brings about all that is done . . . we are securely protected through love, in joy and sorrow, by the goodness of God. . . . All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. —Julian of Norwich [1]

For Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a French Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist, love is “the very physical structure of the Universe.” [2] That is a very daring statement, especially for a scientist to make. Yet for Teilhard, gravity, atomic bonding, orbits, cycles, photosynthesis, ecosystems, force fields, electromagnetic fields, sexuality, human friendship, animal instinct, and evolution all reveal an energy that is attracting all things and beings to one another, in a movement toward ever greater complexity and diversity—and yet ironically also toward unification at ever deeper levels. This energy is quite simply love under many different forms. (You can use another word if it works better for you.)

Love, the attraction of all things toward all things, is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it. It is so simple that it is hard to teach, yet we all know love when we see it. After all, there is not a Native, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, or Christian way of loving. There is not a Methodist, Lutheran, or Orthodox way of running a soup kitchen. There is not a gay or straight way of being faithful, nor a Black or Caucasian way of hoping. We all know positive flow when we see it, and we all recognize resistance and coldness when we feel it. All the rest are mere labels.

When we are truly “in love,” we move out of our small, individual selves to unite with another, whether in companionship, friendship, marriage, or any other trustful relationship. Have you ever deliberately befriended a person standing alone at a party? Perhaps someone who was in no way attractive to you or with whom you shared no common interests? That would be a small but real example of divine love flowing. Don’t dismiss it as insignificant. That is how the flow starts, even if the encounter doesn’t change anyone’s life on the spot. To move beyond our small-minded uniformity, we have to extend ourselves outward, which our egos always find a threat, because it means giving up our separation, superiority, and control.

Christena Cleveland recognizes that so much is lost when we refuse to cross the “borders” that keep us apart.

How much are the people for whom Christ died suffering because we remain paralyzed and divided by our differences when we should be working together as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world? There must be a better and more efficient way to carry out our roles within the mission of God. Surely, we can do better. [3]

References:
[1] Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, chapters 1 and 27 (Long text), trans. Elizabeth Spearing (Penguin Classics: 1998), 41, 79.

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Sketch of a Personal Universe,” Human Energy, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1962), 72.

[3] Christena Cleveland, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart (InterVarsity Press: 2013), 20.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019), 69-70.

Image credit: Pure Diversity (detail), Mirta Toledo, 1993. Art Collection of TCU University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: People can meet God within their cultural context but in order to follow God, they must cross into other cultures because that’s what Jesus did in the incarnation itself. —Christena Cleveland

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