‘The modern era gave us a text, post modernism gave us a context’ – Matthew Fox
In an era where personal self-care and development is highly valued (as it should be), we tend to want to write our own life text. The questions ‘who am I?’ and ‘what are my dreams, goals and aspirations?’, even though good, start with the individual ‘I’ as opposed to the collective ‘We’. Translate that idea across to the way we view ourselves in relationship to God, others and the world around us, it’s easy to fall prey to a narcissistic view and practice of life and faith. This can be seen for example in the emphasis on individual salvation (my own personal Jesus…) and entitlement (…who will meet all of my needs).
But we don’t live in isolation. In the age of the great ‘enlightenment’ where Science and Faith went their separate ways, where the study of the Cosmos was relegated to Science and the care of the soul to Religion, we in the Christian-West became heavily influenced by the thinking of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, falling headlong into the lie that matter was evil and spirit was good. The mystics, who were able to somehow hold both together had already headed for the desert, and dualism reigned.
When space explorers this past century sent back the first photographic image of our planet earth robed in her beautiful cloaks of green and blue there was a sense that She had a central place in the Universe (as we humans also view ourselves). But then as research and technology evolved new images appeared letting us see that we as a planet are just a dot in the larger scheme of the Cosmos. This has allowed for the realisation that we are just a small part of the whole, and that we in some strange way belong to something much greater than the sum of our own parts.
If I allow my gaze to be averted to the macro-view of life and to see that ‘everything’ is sacred, matter in fact being ‘infused’ with spirit, this can help me see you and the world around me in a different light. I can take my eyes momentarily (because this is going to be hard to do) off myself and see all nature (including humans) as being filled with the Spirit of Christ, helping me to love, care for and respect you and our common home more. In this way I can also come to realise that my personal life text sits inside a much greater context that I belong to. This can then shape the way my personal story is written.
Perhaps this is what Paul was inviting us to consider when he said in Colossians: Christ is all, and (Christ) is in all.
It stands to reason therefore that if Christ is in all, then Christ is in me. And if Christ is in me, and also you and all nature, then we are, in a strange and mystical kind of way, all one.
‘I dangle from a chain of wonder, and hold on tight’ – Matthew Fox
Linda Burson Swift