Christmas is about Incarnation, God coming into the world through or in the body of a particular baby born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem. My spirituality has gone to a place that is very difficult to explain to another person, but Richard Rohr wrote this morning using words and images that seem to work quite well for me. I will intersperse my own words with what Richard offers.
Rohr begins with the teachings of Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a Byzantine Christian monk and mystic… Symeon believed that humans had the capacity to experience God’s presence directly. He visualized this union happening within the “force field” of the Body of Christ.
I believe that this force field is available to any human person. It is not necessary to enter “in the name of Jesus.” Jesus himself knew the difference between someone proclaiming him to be Lord with their words and one whose heart was in the right place. No matter the path, it is into this relationship that God calls us.
Rohr shares with his readers a poem written by Symeon, his “Hymn 15”. He says that these lines say it all for him and move him to an embodied knowing, where one can know mystical union on even a cellular union. Here is the poem and I have the same reaction to the poem as Rohr:
We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ. He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.
I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly whole,
seamless in His Godhood.)
I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightening.
Do my words seem blasphemous? – Then
open your heart to Him
and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ’s body
where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed
and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
we awaken as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.
My belief is that Incarnation is about all of us. As the Quakers say, there is “that of God” in all. And that of God is one unique expression that dwells within us. It is both our own True Self and the “Force Field” of the whole Body of Christ. It is the very foundation of the Oneness that Jesus preached.
I am especially drawn to the second-to-the-last stanza of the poem. It gives special meaning to the changes I am experiencing as my body ages and deteriorates. Even suffering and ugly parts share in this amazing Presence. I don’t know the “why” of Incarnation, but being awake to it is an amazing thing.