Thy Kingdom Come
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
“Often, without moving his lips, [Francis] would meditate within himself and drawing external things within himself, he would lift his spirit to higher things.” -Thomas of Celano
Francis of Assisi must have known, at least intuitively, that there is only one enduring SPIRITUAL INSIGHT and everything else follows from it: The visible world is an active doorway to the invisible world, and the invisible world is much larger than the visible. This is the mystery of incarnation, the essential union of the material and the spiritual worlds—or simply “Christ.” The visible world is a shadow of the spiritual world (Romans 1:19-20, 18-32).
Our outer world and its inner significance must come together in order to bring about any wholeness—and holiness. Jesus removed the dividing wall through his death on the cross (Ephesians 2:14). (I personally experienced this in the fall of 1973 in my conversion experience, and continues to this very day. The result is both deep joy and a resounding sense of coherent beauty.)
What was personified in the body of Jesus was a manifestation of this one universal truth: Matter is, and has always been, the hiding place for Spirit, forever offering itself to be discovered anew. Perhaps this is exactly what Jesus means when he says, “I am the gate” (John 10:7). Francis and his female companion, Clare, carried this mystery to its full and lovely conclusions. Or, more rightly, they were fully carried by it. They somehow knew that “the beyond” was not really beyond, but in the depths of “here”. All we need is right here and right now – in this world.
This is the way to that! Heaven includes earth. Time opens us up to the timeless; space opens us up to “space-less-ness”, if we only take them for the clear doorways that they are. There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments—and it is we alone who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one God-created sacred universe, and we are all a part of His creation. This is the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The realization that the concrete opens us up to the universal might be the only fully trustworthy or possible path anyway, because that is how we sense – oriented humans operate. Abstract ideology will not get us very far, and much common religion is ideology more than real encounter with Presence.
We all must start with our anecdotal experience, and then build from there. What else can we do? Good spiritual teachers show us how to build from there! Wise people, Holy Scripture, and scriptural tradition point to which experiences are worth looking at and which are perhaps detours or dead ends. Saint Paul taught that our senses must be trained by practice to have insight between good and evil (Hebrews 5:9-14). Without vision/insight My people perish, for words alone will not correct them (Proverbs 29:18-19).
When religion becomes mere ideology of mere words (or even mere theology), the rubber never hits the road again. People all over the world are rejecting this top-down form of religion – and they should – because this is not the path of Christ Himself. Saints show us how to build on a solid foundation of experiential, practical, and very ordinary spirituality. This emphasizes our need to be doers of the word of God and not hearers only (Ja 1:22). True religion is living the life of Christ and His commandments in one’s ordinary daily life (James 1:27). Jesus said if you love Me you will keep My Commandments (Jn 14:15).
© George Blasy (“Dragonslayer”) 2017.