August 3, 2016

Love and the Fall

Those who love me, I also love, and those who seek me, find me. --Proverbs 8:17
I'm In You
by Peter Frampton
LISTEN HERE

I don't care where I go
 When I'm with you
 When I cry, you don't laugh
 'Cause you know me
 I'm in you, you're in me
 I'm in you, you're in me
 'Cause you gave me the love
 Love that I never had
 Yes, you gave me the love
 Love that I never had...

In today's English language, the pronouns he and she have been nearly stripped away. They are avoided, dis-used. Left in their place is a socio-political idea that rejects this very principle of universal oneness. There are labels and divisions, parsing the world into diverse units.
To the ancient mind, this is akin to tragedy. What could take the place of the Chinese idea of the yin and yang? Or the Hindu wedding ceremony in which bride and groom pronounce one to the other, "I am heaven, you are earth;" to which the bride responds, "I am earth, you are heaven."

Many modern minds, especially in the West, will find these ideas unintelligible, in part, thanks to science. Our rational mind does not allow us to go there. It is all myth, we say. Science, in its aims to reduce things to quantifiable matter fails, it cannot see cosmic love.

Rather, science ignores the "final cause" of creation. It cannot rationalize what something or someone was made for, its purpose, its goal, its end. This reason is the most important to creation. The Tenakh tells us that in both the historical and in the ultimate dimension, G-d is the final cause, creation the ultimate end; it is the alpha and the omega, both the beginning and end.

In this ultimate dimension, we are freed "of the dirty little dungeon of a universe that the Enlightenment thinkers" of past centuries have placed us into wholesale. Enlightenment thought, thought in which rationality and science are the reigning sovereigns, gives to modern minds "a universe in which love and beauty, praise and value are mere subjective fictions," invented by the self spinning aloneness of a human mind.

And yet science through all its triumphs has not been able to extinguish an ancient, almost primordial instinct from the deepest places in our soul, to realize love as the highest wisdom and meaning in a life. So then the Judeo-Christian Bible, or Tanakh, in its entirety is then to be read with imagination, with myth and analogy as a divine love story, says Peter Kreeft.

In both the Jewish and Christian telling of the story, the Word contained in the book is a covenant, an agreement between G-d, the Lover and his beloved; the persons he created, the Jews and all who come to him in the Spirit of the Oneness (adonai echad).

The word of G-d here is the Christ, the unity of G-d, the Creator. And to the Christian mind, among other names we may call this oneness, the Christ, love incarnate. Christ has proved G-d's love for his creation by the example of the Cross. He has come because of, and for love, alone. He comes out of love.

Other manifestations of love are found in the connection between the "fall" from the garden of Eden. The connection here is found between the fall and freedom. Love does not enslave; love makes free. Because you are the Beloved, you are free. We are not the Creator's pets; we are meant to be G-d's lover.

In the redemption, love manifests. G-d's love is powerful and in full display as soon as Adam falls. He makes a mistake, he falls away from the covenant that he made in free will with G-d to obey.

As covenantal people, Jews traditionally see the "law" of the Torah as an expression of G-d's will. It is their joy to learn, to know this will. Thus they see their holy book as a love making manual, if you will.
In the ten commandments, the Decalog,  the principal covenants presented to creation by G-d, the Creator, are laid out. In essence, they form the whole of the "covenant-contract." G-d is to have this agreement with his people, who in free will grow to abide by this contract, or rule. In following the way of G-d in divine law, more love is made. Human-kind is "fruitful and multiplies."

Caring for the garden, the world of Creation, is so that human persons may learn to be more like Creators. G-d wishes to teach love through loving the world and the soil it comprises, to raise a crop to the benefit of all of creation. This is stewardship in its most wholistic sense.
The Creator starts small and then moves through the world until his love reaches the ears of his perhaps, most complex creation, mankind. As a lover, G-d is not jealous. Sharing in oneness is the essence of all.

"And the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve is to teach the Beloved the reality of pure, 'blind,' love."
If they had been told that the reason (a rational idea) was that the fruit was poison, would not Adam and Eve have obeyed; not from a trusting, free love, but from a selfish fear?
Yet G-d did command them, and asked for their love in return for no other reason than love itself. This is covenant. When we "fall," we lick our wounds, we gain a sense of the real, we dust ourselves off and remain in the moment, rather than a self-serving, spinning mind.
Thus we again realize the fall as a direction back to the source, back to the Creator and we, are his Beloved. 
This love is not sentimental, it is not cheap, easy or compromising. This is love in totality. You are the deepest secret of G-d's heart. --Peter Kreeft


July 8, 2016

Love Sails Around Me

"Love sails around me; I walk two steps on the ground and four steps in the air." --Thomas Merton

Many without any other influence might come to think the world of a contemplative serious or even dry, but this and other thoughts by the late Thomas Merton shows another side to living a simple life-a life that is simply full. Read more of his thoughts:

"It's love; it's consolation. I don't care if it's consolation. I'm not attached to consolation. I love God. Love carries me around. I don't want to do anything but love. That love, secret, hidden, obscure love, down inside of me and outside me where I don't care to talk about it... I have only time for eternity, which is to say for love, love, love... Love is the only thing that makes it possible for me to tick... I am all dried up with desire and I can only think of one thing--staying in the fire that burns me...Sooner or later the world must burn...sooner or later it will be consumed by fire and nobody will be left--for by that time the last man in the universe will have discovered the bomb capable of destroying the universe and will have been unable to resist the temptation to throw the thing and get it over with... But love laughs at the end of the world because love is the door to eternity, and before anything can happen, love will have drawn him over the sill and closed the door, and he won't bother about the world burning because he will know nothing but love." 
--Thomas Merton, Cistercian monk, priest and mystic
A Thomas Merton Reader