Union with Infinite Love
Sunday, February 19, 2017
This week James Finley—a psychologist, retreat leader, and member of CAC’s core faculty—continues exploring meditation (another name for contemplative prayer) from a Christian perspective. His messages truly read as “meditations,” invitations to openness and presence, more than intellectual essays. I hope you receive Jim’s words with plenty of space for silence and reflection.
Meditation is the transformative process of shifting from surface, matter-of-fact levels of consciousness to more interior, meditative levels of awareness of the spiritual dimensions of our lives. I will be referring to the more surface levels as ego consciousness. By ego consciousness, I mean the self-reflective bodily self in time and space, which is our usual day-by-day consciousness. Ego manifests itself in saying, “I want, I think, I need, I feel, I remember, I like, I don’t like,” and so on.
Our ego consciousness is a precious gift from God. God wants us to have a healthy ego, because when our ego is not healthy we suffer and those around us suffer. There are interior dimensions to ego consciousness in which we can reflect on our lives in ways that can help us to be less anxious, less depressed, less addictive—in short, less subject to all the ways in which we as human beings suffer and, in our own suffering, contribute to the suffering of others.
But even if we could develop a perfectly healthy ego, there would remain the suffering that arises from experiencing ourselves as nothing more than our ego. Ego consciousness, in and of itself, is not expansive enough to fulfill our hearts. Ego is not generous or gracious enough to bring us all the way home. God creates our hearts in such a way that only God will satisfy our longing. Scripture says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And so we can say that the infinite love that is the architect of our hearts creates our hearts in such a way that only an infinite union with infinite love will do. In passing from ego consciousness to meditative states of awareness, we are awakened to our inner longings for eternal oneness with God in whom is hidden the very reality and fulfillment of ourselves and of everyone and everything around us.
Gateway to Silence:
Rest in God resting in me.
Adapted from James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God (HarperSanFrancisco: 2004), 1-3, 5-7.