Immortal Diamond – Take FIVE!


1akeFiveLogo1 “We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb
the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”
  W.H. Auden

Warning – Steep and Deep Waters ahead – only for
the courageous

Richard
Rohr’s last published book, Immortal Diamond, has been formative in my
heart and life over the past weeks.  As
many of you know, I spent much of the Lenten season in 2013 reading and
re-reading Rohr’s work

Look up the word “Metaphor” sometime on
Google.  Not only will you get a definition
of the word but you’ll receive some examples that will bring the word to
life.  We use metaphors constantly.  Try these on for size: 

  • Broken heart
  • The light of
    my life
  • It's raining
    men
  • Time is a
    thief
  • He is the
    apple of my eye
  • Bubbly
    personality
  • Feel blue
  • Fade off to
    sleep
  • Inflamed your
    temper
  • Rollercoaster
    of emotions
  • Stench of
    failure

There doesn’t seem to be a moment in life that
can’t be captured by some metaphor.  The
primary reason we utilize metaphors in language is that we are attempting to
paint word pictures.  We are attempting
to experientially illustrate what we are experiencing through communicative
content, helping another person to understand what we are feeling or thinking.  If you think about it further, even language
itself is a metaphor…words are formed as a means to communicating to another
human being our perceptions, ideas, and emotions.  The truth is, we cannot experience life
without metaphor. 

Think about the realm of the infinite – how do you
capture in language that is finite something that is “transrational” or
spiritual?  We have no real words for
God.  We really don’t…every time you
attempt to explain God to someone, the best you can do is use metaphor.  He is “my rock, fortress, deliverer, Savior,
Lord, Eternal/Ultimate reality, etc.  As
Rohr points out in “key section” of Immortal Diamond is the understanding that
Metaphor is the “only possible language available to religion.”  Why is that true?  According to Rohr,

“…Because
it alone is honest about Mystery.”

In other words, there is always available to those
who use metaphor in communication DEEPER meaning and understanding.  I think it is EXTREMELY provocative and
profound that he spells it out this way:

“Metaphor
is invariably more meaning, not less. Literalism is the lowest and least level
of meaning.” 

Jesus used metaphor constantly in his
teaching.  Parables, primarily, are
Kingdom “snapshots.”  They are
expressions of God’s reign and what it “looks like” to experience it.  To say it any other way would rob us of some
of the deep, satisfying and challenging meaning of Jesus’ words on discipleship.  The Kingdom is “mustard seed, a sower and
seeds being sown, a loving father’s acceptance of a wayward son, a valuable
pearl, a pinch of yeast, salt and light, and the list goes on.  Think about it this way:

“Often
that which looks like mere symbol is indeed the doorway to all that you really
need to know – if you approach it humbly and respectfully.  How else could an always-available God be
always available?  It cannot depend on
having a college education or even a common education, but on a simple ability
to read the symbolic universe, which some ancients seem to have done much
better than we do.” 

In other words, without metaphor (without art,
music, and literature – all forms of metaphor) meaning would be restricted to
the intellectually elite.  That’s why it
is often the “educated” that attempt to “lord” over others…they sincerely
believe that most of us don’t “get it.” 
Metaphors give us an opportunity to reframe, reorganize and reset core
meanings again and again.  Why is
that?  Because our experience always
“expands” the meaning of a text or spiritual truth.  In other words, meaning continues to be MORE
MEANINGFUL when a divergent of personal experience is brought to bear.  Let me put it this way – if there were NO
MORE NEED to experience meaning, life and salvation in Jesus, why would we work
so hard to articulate the Gospel into our primary life context?  Why not JUST read the bible and NOT attempt
to “translate” that meaning into our contemporary world?  Metaphor expands meaning and transcends one
particular time in space and experience. 
Again, meaning in life needs to be experienced anew for every time, age
and relationship…metaphor gives us an opportunity to re-understand and reorient
our lives around meaning as it gets PERSONAL in and to us.  Metaphors CARRY US BEYOND (actually meaning
of the Greek word, “meta-phore”). 

What does all this mean to you and me?  We are living in the shadow of a historical
“movement” that confused the rational and provable with what is “real.”  It is still called the Enlightenment (though
Rohr, and I agree with him, sees this historical time as actually “wrongly
named”).  During the Enlightenment (which
by the way occurred at the same time as the Reformation) mystery became dogma
and faith became more intellectually driven by creed than something that is
alive in heart and action.  Experiencing
God became a science project and knowing Jesus was relegated to propositional
statements and explorations in history. 
Don’t get me wrong, there is importance to an intellectual journey of
faith…but when Mystery becomes over analyzed and robbed of “metaphor”, the life
gets sucked out of it.  Jesus said the
same thing when he said that parables would “confound the wise” and when he
remarked to Thomas, “happy are those who believe without seeing.”  In Mystery, our inner world and the outer
world meet…God comes to humanity…the Word becomes flesh…meaning takes shape in
the heart which is the ONLY place where the well-spring of life has the
potential to be transformed. 

So, what metaphor would you use to describe your
relationship and understand of God?  What
words would summarize your life as a disciple? 
Sometimes, the best way to articulate your experience is through a poem,
song or piece of art.  Sometimes you
don’t need to say anything but use the “metaphor” of humble submission, a hand
raised in praise, a knee bent in worship, or a deep breath of trust.  If you feel like you “measure up” to those
who supposedly can articulate and understand the faith “better”, remember,
metaphor levels the playing field. 
Everyone can express and experience the Kingdom as the Mystery of God
makes itself real and present in our lives.  

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