Unimaginable Grace

In the beginning was The Logos and The Logos was with God and The Logos was God.-The Gospel According to St. John 1:1.


Image: NASA

In one of the most difficult and powerful passages in the Western spiritual canon, St. John the Gospeller wrote those mysterious words. They have been fought over, wrestled with, mocked, twisted and, finally, ignored, perhaps more than any other verse of any other holy work. They posit something (“The Logos” or “The Word”) that is both with Some Thing (“God”) and that is that Thing in its essence.

What did John mean? How can it be that the Logos is both with God and is God? It is because the Logos shapes Who and What God Is. The holy writings proclaim that God created something where there was nothing. God formed a universe or a billion billion universes simply by saying “Let it be.”

The creative power of speaking things into existence is only a myth. Of course one should never say something is “only” a myth. It’s akin to saying something is “only Wondrous and Marvelous and True in the Truest sense of True.”

Yet, for humans, existing but a yoctosecond (the small possible measure of time) in the life of the cosmos, there is not the same power as the Divine may exercise in the creation and evolution of the multiverse. We can’t simply imagine something and it exists. We do, however, have power over our own imagination–Godlike power, which creates, forms, finishes and destroys. And that power is particularly potent in our own hearts.

Think of that word: Imagination. We have the power, within ourselves, to create stories, powerful narratives which tell ourselves how the Cosmos (by which word I mean “all that is,” what St. Paul called “pleroma,” the fullness, the completeness, the All in All) works. When we imagine menace everywhere, menace exists everywhere. Where we imagine goodness, goodness exists.

Our hearts are both treacherous and wondrous, true and false. We may “know” (from the Greek, “Gnosis”) something, something which is very obvious to us, because we have imagined it to be such and so. We create the menace where there is none, or the goodness where there is only the tabula rasa on which the Cosmos—our own personal Cosmos—is formed.

God only creates that which is Good, yet God could (and did!) imagine that the Cosmos could fall apart. In our own divinity, we have been granted that divine imagination: not the power to create the actual, but the imagined, which then forms us in its own image. We are the Logos and the Logos is Us.

There is only one thing—and it is not a Thing in the sense of things which exist apart from us, but a Thing which exists only within us—and over which we have no power. That Thing is Grace. Though we cannot imagine it, Grace is the most powerful of all forces: beyond gravity or entropy or the speed of light or the blackness of a collapsing galaxy. Yet, Grace exists. It is Truth. It is Goodness. It is Eternity. It is Love. It is God in God’s own perfect pleroma, God’s Godness, God’s Word.

Very few of us are aware enough to experience Grace each day: the songbirds in the early morning, the fields of wildflowers in the heat of the midday, the cool of the early evening, right after the sun dips out of sight. The Grace of a lover’s lips on ours, the comforting embrace of a parent with her child, the explosion on the tongue of sweet and tangy from a freshly picked orange, these are all Grace.

Though we have these moments of Grace, we often focus on the pain of life, as if pain stood apart from Grace, a Thing Unimagined in its own right. I have a friend, who is Buddhist minister, and who recently had long overdue shoulder surgery. For years, she managed the pain through the Grace of pain meditation. She was not imagining the pain away, as if by some power of mind over matter. Instead, through her meditation, she imagined Grace and that carried her through the pain, to a place where the pain no longer dominated. The pain was real, her suffering was real. But Grace redeemed the pain.

Grace is not some hocus-pocus magical incantation, that takes away the struggles of life or the reality of suffering. But Grace is over, in and through struggle, pain, and death. Grace redeems them for Grace is the Real Thing.

Grace redeems everyone, even the most heinous person, like a Hitler, a Stalin, a Pol Pot. It is the All in All, That Which Is. The Cosmos does not exist in vain. It exists in Grace.

Imagine that.




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