Who do you want to become for 2018?

Welcoming in the New Year is full of resolutions, lasting perhaps a week or at most a month.  It can also be a time for more serious goal-setting with statements such as: “I’ve decided to go back to back to college” or “I’ve decided to change jobs” etc.  Whether it be resolutions or specific goals set for the year, for most people they stem from the ego and what the ‘I’ wants.  “This is what ‘I’ want from my life”. The following is the antithesis of this approach to life.

Reading and reflecting on the Holy Trinity, specifically on the relationship between the ‘three Divine Persons’ which make up the God-head, there is no evidence of ego but one of a “radical relatedness, a perfect community between Three – a circle dance of love”[1].  Richard Rohr says that “the Three all live as an eternal and generous self-emptying” and yet “the names, the roles, the energies are really interchangeable…They’re always in relationship”.[2]

This self-emptying and relationship is captured in Philippians 2:6:

His state was divine

Yet he did not cling

To his equality with God

But emptied himself[3]

 

In a prayer to the Holy Spirit I stumbled upon, a beautiful line underscores this divine self-emptying: “You are not only Giver of gifts, but Giver of Yourself, the supreme Gift – the Gift of the Father and the Son”.[4]

The 15th Century icon below, originally depicted the three angels who visited Abraham in Genesis 18:1-8 but eventually was interpreted to depict the Holy Trinity. At the time, this was to be considered the embodiment of spiritual unity, peace, harmony, mutual love and humility. 

As we are made in the image and likeness of God, we too are invited to fully participate in the Trinitarian self-emptying relatedness. Looking at the centre of the icon, there is a space for a fourth person to sit in communion and in relatedness at this Divine table. This is our invitation.

You see, “emptiness alone is prepared for fullness”[5] and those who have mirrored this emptiness/fullness are drawn to “the powerless, the edge, the bottom…they have all the power they need and it always overflows.”[6] John Wesley exemplifies this emptiness/fullness dynamic.

Entering 2018 poses the question to us all “who do you want to become?”  In the context of what I have just written, the following quote from St. Clare of Assisi puts beautifully what I have been feebly writing:

We become what we love
and who we love shapes what we become…
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ,
rather it means becoming the image of the beloved,
an image disclosed through transformation.
This means… we are to become vessels
of God´s compassionate love for others.
[7]

 

In my endeavours to become a ‘vessel’ of God’s compassion has unfortunately led me to those dark places where I have met the part of me that is far from compassionate which results in me needing to surrender the ‘my endeavour’ to that of the Holy Spirit.

Without You, there is no divine life in us, no virtue at all.

 If Your breath is cut off, our spirit perishes;

nor can it live again until You press

Your lips to our mouths and breathe

 into them the breath of life”.[8]

 

This life of ours is not something that ‘we’ decide what ‘we’ are going to do with it but rather God’s story in our lives to which we surrender. “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am”[9] to enable me to live and reflect God’s love by continuously emptying my ego-self so to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

[1] Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, (SPCK: London 2016), 37.

[2] Ibid. 90.

[3] Philippians 2:6 (JB)

[4] Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel, (Amity House: New York, 1986), 1.

[5] Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, 91.

[6] Ibid.

[7] https://theprayinglife.com/tag/st-clare-of-assisi/

[8] Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel, 1.

[9] Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, (Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, 2000), 10.

 

Theme photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

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