Through a Glass Darkly

Alice through the looking glass
Alice through the looking glass

The Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar sees Julian’s revelations of the crucifixion as a theo-drama to help us understand (or approach understanding) the action of the Trinity at the cross; this element of infinite divine freedom that created finite freedom and where they meet, interact. Considering the paradox of the nature of existence alone (spirit-body, individual-community, etc.) von Balthasar remarks that if one is not to be resigned to

. . . a narrow Aristotelian “middle”—in view of the destructiveness of extreme spiritualization and sensualization—[one] must be given . . . a blueprint [that] would have to execute fully both movements without hubris and without degradation: it would have to come down to flesh “from above”, as the pure breath of God, plumbing the dimensions of “world” and “flesh” to the very bottom. . . . And from below, on the basis of a perfected fleshly being, it must go beyond the realm of the “world” so as to bring both world and flesh with it, in its transcendence, up to God, “transfiguring” it, not “spiritualizing” it in some incorporeal manner. (TD II, 364)

It is spiritual and it is flesh; it is One and it is Community (Trinity). The work of the cross is not merely an event at a fixed point and time. It is an action—acting out—of the Triune God who is infinite freedom, infinite will, inter-acting—intersecting—at a specific point in time and space. Yet, this action is from outside of time while encompassing everything within time by that action.

How can we understand it? Christ told Julian that his wound would remain open for as long as it takes, and that is how she could know that all will be well. Jesus died, was buried and raised up again on that weekend two millennia back. Still, Christ’s wound remains open to encompass any who are to be saved—until all who will be saved, are.

I love the statement Paul makes in 1 Cor 13:12, that for now we see in a mirror, dimly, darkly, but then we will see face-to-face! We understand, yet, only in part. What James says is equally true: when I lack faith and do not participate in God’s creative action (doer of God’s word) I am like one who looks in a mirror and in turning away forgets who I am—forgets Whose image I bear. Still, God’s grace is infinite. For somehow, God reflects divine light (that darkness cannot overcome) off (out of) me, even in my forgetting.

Glass, mirror. Please meditate with me on God’s mercy and compassion to transcend and transfigure time and space, flesh and spirit—even if only dimly, for now.

[wpvideo OpFqCY9M]

 

By Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).

1 comment

  1. Reblogged this on Howie's Blog and commented:
    Wow, good and deep reflection. Reminds me a lot of the Cloud of Unknowing, where the contemplative practice is to envision yourself ascending between a cloud of forgetfulness (forgetting the world and it’s stresses, strivings, anxieties, burdens, shame, fears, hubris,…) and a cloud of unknowing (where we see glimpses of the Divine breaking through, but not in fullness – as if seeing through a glass dimly), and entering into a state of being enraptured in the presence and love of the Divine. The “pure breath of God” is a good image to think about in being enraptured thusly. And loved the images and music!!!

    (note: click on “View Original” below to be able to view the video that Nicole put together)

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