In explaining my recent path of divinity study and contemplation to my own children, I try to convey that I am moving toward something deeper in my secret heart and expanded in my consciousness. So while I participate in a church community, I also practice centering prayer and lectio divina and contemplative journaling.
These practices expand my approach and practice of seeking the divine. My religious grounding provides me with a ‘cataphatic’ (terminology that describes or refers to what the divine is believed to be), approach to the divine. Language and symbols that allow me to praise, to give thanks, to mourn and to otherwise celebrate the divine as tangible in my be-ing with others in community and the reality of the world. And it is in my letting go of expectations and assumptions about the divine in stillness and silence that I seek an ‘apophatic’ (Divine essence is unknowable or ineffable; human language is inadequate to describe the divine) approach to the divine. It is in this way that I ground myself in authentic be-ing that enriches the cataphatic by nurturing it and empowering it to, in turn, deepen my apophatic experience.
All talk of the divine – all language used to express it -merely hints at the deeper mysteries therein. When we cling to the language we are drawn into the ‘literal’ and too often that inspires a dualistic expression of what the divine is and what the divine is not. All around me I see the ways in which such efforts to harness the divine mystery lead us into exclusivity where there ought to be abundant inclusivity.
Language is used for self-expression first and foremost and is by its nature symbolic. Words help us make the imperceptible-perceptible. At their best, words have the power to illuminate beyond the perceptible- into depth – imperceptible- providing greater visibility. Language must be liberated to dwell between the ‘is’ and the ‘is not’ so as to empower the metaphorical and mystical nature of knowing the holy.
My faith approach to knowing the divine inspires me to stand in the tension of absence and presence, honor the mystery of stillness and silence, and approach the holy as it is encountered –through a glass darkly. As a result, my religious experience and expression is enlivened by the claritas of an open mind and open heart proclaiming ever more inclusively the deeper, mutual values of , with and in, belonging through divine co-creation.