A long time ago, I gave up on The Wish-Fulfilment Wizard. Also Mr. Fix-It. Also Safety Guard. Those ideas don’t match my reality.
I rely on the clarity of John’s Gospel and epistles: God is Love. “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
But that could feel amorphous and simplistic without Jesus. Two thousand years ago in Galilee, Jesus embodied the gritty glory of Love amid conflicts and unto death.
How did he do this? Immersed in life, he walked the hills and towns with attentiveness and compassion. He gave special attention to the outliers -- a man sitting in a sycamore tree, people living on the margins of society, a father mourning his child. His attention was transforming.
To walk with others like this is what solidarity means to me. It’s what accompaniment means to me.
Nature sheds light on this experience of accompaniment. I feel transcendent immanent Glory as I notice skies and clouds and trees, as I touch plants and dogs and guinea pigs. But in nature I also find tornadoes and ebola, rogue waves and cancer. The big news of nature, for me, is not beauty but the awe-inspiring complexity of relationships among all the parts, and the growth in consciousness that we call evolution.
Relatedness is key. Nothing exists in isolation: as I glimpse the concepts of quantum physics, isn’t that an essential point? Each any-thing is simultaneously a whole in itself, and a part of something bigger. This part&whole identity is as true of eggs, ants, gardens, cancers and earthquakes as it is of subatomic particles, galaxies and black holes. Relatedness is who we are. Relatedness is the fabric of existence.
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of Relatedness.
Many evenings I spend at least a few minutes immersed in Daniel Landinsky’s poetry (like the poem above). Drawing on people who knew God far more deeply than I do, like Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, his poems pull me into the presence of God’s overwhelming, absolute, laughing, endlessly forgiving, bottomless love for each of us, in each of us. This is not simplistic Love, nor one that fixes everything.
There’s an echo in my own intent as the mother of adult children. I love them absolutely. I respect them and their choices. I offer my honesty and active presence for them. I delight with them, I ache with them. Sometimes all I can respectfully give is quiet empathy. I am with them and for them. At least, that Relatedness is my hope.
That’s how I usually experience God in my own life. God accompanies me through the mazes, a faithful and generous witness to my steps and missteps, a creative companion whose perspective is much greater than mine. My own choices, vision, and inner capacities set the limits. Called or not, God is present (as Carl Jung said).
The great task for me is to appreciate the ultimate Relatedness in which I exist, which both cradles and challenges me, and in which I can inevitably find the God of Accompaniment active. As God is kindly attentive to me, do I stay attentive as well?
Incarnation is all around me. Do I make this fact a practical reality in each interaction?
Emmanuel – God with Us -- Jesus is the incarnate God of Accompaniment. “God’s love is complete in us” when we accompany people in need with attentive, compassionate, respectful, creative, and merry Love.