Conservatives look for absolute truth; liberals look for something “real” and authentic. Spouses look for a marriage that will last “’till death do us part.” Believers look for a God who never fails them; scientists look for a universal theory. They are all on the same quest. We are all looking for an immortal diamond: something utterly reliable, something loyal and true, something we can always depend on, something unforgettable and shining.
There is an invitation and an offer for all of these groups from John’s very short Second Letter, when he writes: “There is a truth that lives within us that will be with us forever” (2 John 2). But most of us know very little about this, so we end up as St. Augustine admits in his Confessions: “Late have I loved you, Beauty so very ancient and so ever new. Late have I loved you! You were within, but I was without.”
Richard Rohr, excerpted from Immortal Diamond: the Search for Our True Self (due for publication February 2013)
We are all in the same boat, to begin with. I can remember this quest for “something unforgettable and shining” almost as far back as I can remember anything. Like everyone, I assumed it was outside myself, but I did see even from my early childhood that somehow it was what “made everything work” as I described it to myself.
Thinking it to be outside myself, as I grew up I looked for it in science, art, chemicals, philosophy, sex – everywhere but within. To be honest, I was afraid of what I might find, despite the increasingly reckless experiments I tried.
Gradually, though, I began to find it: not through an increasingly desperate and extreme search for something beyond myself, but truly within, gently, quietly, through prayer and contemplation—not looking for “It” but looking for mercy, for grace; then “the truth that abides in us and will be with us for ever” found me.
It seems to me that only in simultaneously realising that the hollowness, the brokenness, the pain of the world are reflected in me, and that the only response to them is love, however apparently helpless and wounded such loving renders my own heart, that the “unforgettable and shining” opens at the heart’s own core, and reaches out to all creatures, every one.