When the contemplative dimension of the gospel is recognized and absorbed, the metaphors and forms of the church begin to change. They become more just and inclusive. Women find equality in a male-dominated world. Gays are not told they are ‘disordered.’ [Refugees are not demonized.] Issues of social and environmental justice become as important as protecting orthodoxy. When it breathes in the prayer of the spirit in the heart, not just from public worship or private devotion, the church experiences collectively the transcendence inherent in faith. Becoming less self-centered it sees that it serves but is not to be identified with the Kingdom it is meant to communicate. With the pure air of contemplation, faith grows and belief settles at the right level.
The language we use about Jesus also changes. We no longer speak about him as if he were the captain of the winning team, defeating others, or as a judge come to condemn the world. The idea of sacrifice and redemption take on a more subtle and mystical meaning. Understanding Jesus as the Divine Physician, the all-healing word, the church begins to speak in a way the world can understand.
After meditation: “The Hundred Names of Love” by Annie Lighthart in HEALING THE DIVIDE: Poems of Kindness and Connection, ed by James Crews (Brattleboro, VT: Green Writers Press, 2019), p. 62.
The hundreds name of love
The children have gone to bed.
We are so tired we could fold ourselves neatly
behind our eyes and sleep mid-word, sleep standing
warm among the creatures in the barn, lean together
and sleep, forgetting each other completely in the velvet,
the forgiveness of sleep.
Then one small cry:
one strike of the match-head of sound:
one child’s voice:
and the hundred names of love are lit
as we rise and walk down the hall.
One hundred nights we wake like this,
wake out of our nowhere
to kneel by small beds in darkness.
One hundred flowers open in our hands,
a name for love written in each one.