Wednesday, July 09, 2008

God is here; perfectly hidden...

God is here; perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in all material reality, even in the least of the brothers and sisters. It is easy to see Christ in the beauty of nature. But can you see Christ all the way at the edges where he is least attractive? Can you see Christ where you least expect him?

Richard Rohr, from Creating Christian Community

I have often thought that this was one of the most difficult parts of living as a Christian. I can see Christ, as Rohr suggests, in nature, in people I love and admire; but see him in tyrants, rapists, pornographers? And yet he was born as man: he gave himself to all that humanity can be, took on himself our own nature. Was this what he saw in the Garden of Gethsemane, as much as the scourge and the nails? Was this what he meant when on the Cross he saw the light of his Father's face dimmed, and cried out, "Why have you forsaken me?"

I once prayed to see Christ for who he is, to know him, truly know him; and the times following that prayer were among the most desolate times I've known. Is this what it is to know Christ? To know the shepherd whose heart is broken for the sheep who are lost, and yet who flee from him, deeper into the dark valleys and the barren rocks? To know the man who wept over Jerusalem, who would have gathered her children together as a hen gathers her brood, and they were not willing?

We talk of becoming Christ-like. Is this what it means?


  1. This very much reminds me of the mysticism of Caryll Houselander: Here is a brief extract from a paper on her.

    Her next vision occurred on a crowded subway train amid "all sorts of people jostled together, sitting and strap-hanging." Suddenly, she saw Christ in each passenger--"living in them, dying in them, rejoicing in them, sorrowing in them." In these passengers she saw the whole world. Later, as she walked among the crowds in the street, she saw Christ in every passerby. This vision lasted several days, convincing her that "oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness."

    Hers was the paradoxically clear-headed spirituality that so often emerges from a "neurotic" mystic. These three visions--of the nun, the tsar and the commuters--convinced her that Christ is in all people, even the ones from which we turn away "because of the image we have formed of what sanctity ought to be." If we look for Christ "only in the saints, we shall miss him," she wrote. "If we look for him in ourselves, in what we imagine to be the good in us, we shall begin in presumption and end in despair." If we reach out for Christ in other people, it cannot be "in the way that we think he should be, not in the way that we already understand, but in the way that he chooses to be, who is himself the Way."

    I seem to recall these visions as coming from her autobiography "A Rocking Horse Catholic".

  2. A Rocking Horse Catholic- wow I read that years ago... Caryll Hauselander is great.

    In regard to this post - it is as usual, just perfect Mike.

    I read the Rohr email earlier myself and gave much thought to finding Christ everywhere. Easier said than done. I almost wrote about it, but I did not. However what I did write about (which when you get to it, I think you will enjoy)was influenced by these words.

    Yet it is true, Christ is in all. What a challenging and yet amazing thing to try to understand. And more importantly to try to live.

  3. I think of this sometimes when I am immersed in angst over some grief of mine--how much more Christ must grieve for a world that scorns him or worse, ingnores him.

    Thank you for this post.

  4. Oh, to see Christ where I least expect him.

    Out of the blue came this mantra from Thomas Kelly--"Be thou my will." That's my prayer right now.

    So glad you liked the Gregory of Nyssa poem/quote.

  5. Tausign, thank you. You're the second person who's mentioned Houselander in the last few days - maybe someone's trying to tell me something?

    Fran - that's a wonderful post on the Rohr passage - and a terrific poem from Martin Buber!

    "Be thou my will" - that's it, Jan! Precisely!

    Blessings on the lot of you...