In my last blog post, I talked about how my time at Wild Goose Festival, a gathering of progressive Christians in Appalachia, opened me up in new ways to the benefits of meditation. In particular, I shared about how meditation forces us to bring into the light of the cosmic Christ sides of ourselves we have learned to push aside, hide, and ignore. I discussed how, though this is scary, seeing these sides of ourselves through the light of the cosmic Christ opens us up to real possibilities for personal growth.
This experience is something that Scripture calls us to, even if it sounds unfamiliar and frightening.
Romans 12 tells us,:
“Brothers and sisters, God has shown you God’s mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to God while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping God in the right way. 2 Don’t live the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what God wants is right. God’s plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”
And also, 2 Corinthians 3 says,
“17 Now the Lord is the Holy Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is also there. 18 None of our faces are covered with a veil. All of us can see the Lord’s glory and think deeply about it. So we are being changed to become more like Christ so that we have more and more glory. And this glory comes from the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit.”
As we are brought into the light and glory, we are changed.
My time meditating at Wild Goose reminded me how accepting who you are, in all your messy complexity, is so central to embracing the work Christ does in you during meditation.
In her wonderful book Our Braided Selves, pastoral counselor and theologian Pamela Cooper-White, argues that one pitfall we fall into in our emotional and spiritual lives is believing we need to be just one kind of person. We have it engrained into us at an early age what a good boy or girl, successful man or woman, good or bad Christian looks like. This belief leads us to reject parts of who we are. When we reject these parts of ourselves, we lose our ability to let these parts of ourselves be what God intends them to be. We cannot access our God-given potential to become sources of life, direction, healing, and beauty to ourselves, our relationships, and our world. Instead these inward qualities warp and become twisted forms of God’s intention for us that wreak havoc on us, ourselves, and others. This is what depth psychologists like Jung mean when they speak and write about the unconscious.
Speaking of this unconscious, Jung says: ““Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate… There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Cooper-White’s insight is that we are not to be unitive selves, in the way that we think. That would be trying to drive out the darkness of our unconscious with figures of light. No, instead, we must learn to embrace that we are a diversity within our souls. We are, she says, made in the image of God, who in Christian faith, is not just one singular lonely bachelor in the sky; but, instead, always Creator, Christ, and Spirit – one God in three Persons. And I would add that beyond the Christian idea of Trinity this holds true. In Islam there are 99 names for God which the believer is called to meditate upon in order to realize the diversity and magnitude of God’s nature. So we too in the Scriptures Christians share with Jews are given many names for the One God we worship together with them, which are all sides of this God’s nature.
All of this illustrates to us that to fully know God is to fully embrace all of who God is. And to truly bear the image of Christ is to be open to all the sides of ourselves as ways that, when put in the light of Christ, can also become ways to live out our call to be the Christ-presence in the world. In so doing we are made better able to be Christ’s hands, feet, arms, and legs in this world.
I would love to hear how you have challenged to embrace and live out this in your world. What is difficult about it? What is easy?
How have you learned to embrace the diverse sides of who you are?
Your progressive redneck preacher,