Just back from attending a refreshing and inspiring interfaith retreat day led by Maura Sills. She spoke of the numinous quality of love and wisdom that is at the centre of us all. And how awakening to, and resting prayerfully and consciously in this depth within us, not only helps us but all those to whom we relate in life. I was very struck by how easily we can live our life separate in our own skin, sometimes never really experiencing a sense of deep connection to others or the divine. Yet, if what is truly deepest in us is the 'image,' breath - ruach - of God, then we are not separate but all founded, and to be found, in God. As Martin Buber the Jewish philosopher so astutely puts it: my 'I' which is found in 'Thouness' relates to you as Thou for 'through contact with every THOU we are stirred with a breath of the THOU, that is, of eternal life.' For Buber this was not an enrapturing dynamic that dissolves the I and Thou as perhaps the mystics encourage us to see, but rather found within the relationship itself - 'Spirit is not in the I but between the I and THOU... Love does not cling to the I in such a way as to have the THOU only for its 'content,' its object; but love is between I and THOU.' In some ways this reminds me of the early Eastern church understanding of perichoresis - the divine relational love-dance of the Trinity: Father moving with Son, Son with Spirit, Spirit with Father - a dynamic life-giving 'community of being' into which we are all invited.
What do you think...? I do wonder if the ever-increasing rise in depression we experience in the West is somehow related to our dearth of true sense of relationship with one another in favour of an embedded individualism.
Perhaps it doesn't matter how we conceptualise this connection as long as we recognise in some way, in our depths, that in each Thou we address the eternal Thou. As St Benedict encourages in his rule, receive each guest as Christ. Everyone you will meet today, and all days, carries the image of God in their true depths.