Post by Richard Rohr
To get a proper divine conversation started and going, we all have to think of God as a “person” somehow. Otherwise there is no reciprocity, mutuality, give and take, no ONE to love, no “I and Thou”. Humans only know how to relate to other persons initially. But if you stay there too long, you pay a big price, because God ends up being on the other end of YOUR conversation, which keeps God SEPARATE and somehow in need of daily “appeasement”. True intimacy is pretty hard to experience at this level, at least for long. The whole point of prayer is to lead you to experience and say what Jesus finally says “I and the Father are one!” (John 10:30). Then you do not pray to God as much as you pray THROUGH and WITH God. (Note how the official liturgical prayers end “THROUGH Christ our Lord. Amen.”)
Eventually you must stop looking AT reality, and you will learn to look OUT FROM reality! This a major and heart stopping change, and admittedly most people never go to this mystical level–because they were not taught very well, frankly. It is not because they are not worthy or incapable, but they usually feel unworthy and feel incapable. They are not.
When prayer naturally matures, God is not so much “A Person” out there, that I must cajole, adore, and obey, but God has become the VERY GROUND OF ALL BEING, which is in dialogue with you, loving you, receiving your praise, calling you forth, forgiving you, and revealing a gracious divine will in all things as they are. Prayer is now all the time and everywhere, as long as you are conscious and awake!
At this point it is still OK to think and talk of God as a person–as long as you know it is not really true–in the way you ordinarily use that phrase! God is no longer a mere person, but ALL of reality itself has become PERSONAL, relational, dialogical, giving and receiving, loving and lovable. God cannot be localized here or there any more (Luke 17:20), but as the old catechism said “God is everywhere”. This is a major and important maturing in one’s relationship with God, yet so few spiritual guides know how to lead us across when we think we are losing our initial faith. You indeed are! But you are finding a much deeper faith, and you must go through this necessary trial and darkness to grow up spiritually and experience true and full intimacy with God (Read St. John of the Cross, if you doubt me.)
For Christians, the paradox is resolved in the Trinity. They can continue to relate to Jesus PERSONALLY, but when their prayer becomes fully Trinitarian, as we see in the Christian mystics, God is not just A person that they have a relationship with, but God is RELATIONSHIP ITSELF (internally in God) and draws everything into that ONE DIVINE DANCE (externally in the universe). More and more people, I am finding, are ready for such adult Christianity and such mature spirituality (See Hebrews 5:12-13). Only then does “everything belong”, and only then do we get off the childish teeter-totter and fall onto a solid ground of joy. But it will surely feel like falling! Don’t be afraid.
What do you think of Rohr’s contemplative/mystical approach? Would love to get your comments!