“The world is my meeting place with God…as the body of God, it is wondrously, awesomely, divinely mysterious.”¹
“This model of the universe as the body of God invites…us to do something that Christians have seldom done: think about God and bodies…Such a focus causes us to see differently, to see dimensions of the relation of God and the world that we have not seen before.” ²
My husband, Gordy, and I were fortunate to have recently travelled on an amazing “People to People” cruise around Cuba. I was initially drawn to this trip because it was being offered by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB rather than ever having a burning desire to visit Cuba. I consider Sr. Joan to be one of my spiritual teachers even though I have only known her wisdom teachings through her writings over the years. I just could not pass up having this opportunity to actually meet her, and hear her teachings in person!
Over the course of the week, Sr. Joan presented four lecture/dialogue sessions focused on St. Benedict’s 12 steps of humility, from the Rule of Benedict, expanded in her book, Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life. Gordy and I had read and discussed this book along with others in our Monday night prayer group this past year, so it was a real treat to listen to her break it open further for us.
The first step of humility, according to St. Benedict, is to recognize and be in awe of the presence of God “always before our eyes.” This precept recognizes that God is present in everyone and everything! We are to keep our consciousness of God always in front of us, in love, in life, and in the oneness and unity of ALL of God’s creation, that, as Sr. Joan says, “is swimming in the womb of God,” creating and being created.
Then today, Fr. Richard Rohr’s reflection titled “Creation is the Body of God,” contained the second quote above, which fits so well with Sr. Joan’s and St. Benedict’s teachings.
Imagine the spiritual implications of human beings truly, fully, honestly believing and LIVING this recognition of God’s presence in ALL humans (including ourselves), ALL beings, and ALL creation! We would be able to see beyond our own self-centered individuality, wants and cravings to the greater compassion and respect for others and for our world and all it contains. We would LOVE ourselves and others, recognizing all of us as holy containers of God from the very beginning. How could we then ever justify hatred, disrespect, or harm towards each other or towards anything in the natural world?
We would be able to truly do the “God’s will,” which Sr. Joan defined as “anything that leads to justice, love, compassion and mercy.” If our thoughts and actions do not lead to justice, love, compassion and mercy, we are not doing God’s will. So simple, yet so hard to follow, isn’t it?
As St. Paul said, in God we are “no longer Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, woman nor man,” but one in the body of Christ. We are the dwelling of God, and the whole universe is the body of God. It is all gift, given freely by the God who created everything and who continues to create everything. Our recognition and awe of the presence of God in everyone and everything MUST come first!
Take a few moments each day to recognize the presence of God in the ordinariness of your daily life, in the people you live with and meet, the circumstances you encounter each moment, the places where you live and work, the natural world you are immersed in. Take a few moments each day to recognize the presence of God within yourself! God is there. Stop. Look. Listen.
Be in awe!
¹Models of God, Sallie McFague, 1987
²The Body of God: An Ecological Theology, Sally McFague, 1993