An Embraceable God

 Karl Rahner is one of my absolute favorite theologians.  His writings stir my imagination and push me to ponder God in ways I never think of otherwise.  Rahner always refers to God as the “infinite horizon.” The closer we get to God the more there is of God to know…it becomes this dance of proximity and invitation.  In the meantime, our longing for God grows and consumes.

As beautiful as this horizon is…there could be a sense of distance and remoteness. It is hard to feel a sense of intimacy with a horizon.  Ronald Rolheiser says it well:

“If the God of the past was too demanding, terrifying, hung up on moral structures and a pre-fab game plan, the God of today is too distant, too uninvolved, too domesticated to merit any adoration by many.”

Julian of Norwich was an English anchoress who is regarded as one of the most important Christian mystics. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, but has never been canonized, or officially beatified, by the Catholic Church, probably because so little is known of her life aside from her writings, including the exact date of her death.

A Radical Consideration

Her writings, however, are inspiration for many and she received over a dozen revelations of a loving God during her years of seclusion and prayer.  In one such revelation as described in her well-known “Revelations of Divine Love” she describes God’s love as a tender embrace, as close to us as the clothes we wear.

“Our Lord showed to me a spiritual insight of his tender loving. I saw that he is everything that is good and comfortable for us. He is our clothing that for love wraps us, hugs us, and out of tenderness, completely encloses us, never to leave us…

…for as the body is clad in cloth…so are we, soul and body, clad in the goodness of God and enclosed; yea, and more tenderly still, for these may waste and wear away, but the goodness of God remains whole and even closer to us…there is no creature on earth that may fully know how much and how sweetly our maker loves us.” (5-6)

We could probably go through life – many people do – without knowing about Julian and her insight about this embraceable God we have.  Yet, now that you have been introduced, Julian is well worth ongoing exploration.

Her reflections on the closeness of God, even to the point of touching us as clothing does, may seem odd to us.  A God who touches us? A God who clings to us is a God who encourages that kind of reciprocal embrace.  Am I ready for such a God?

We may, indeed, keep God comfortably at a distance by keeping God in our minds. Thinking about God is different than knowing God.

Further reflection on this imagery might encourage us to think about a favorite article of clothing…what does it mean to you and what might that say about the way God loves you?

A favorite pair of slippers, for example, worn to the shape of your feet, might cause you to ponder that God accepts you just exactly the way you are.

Go ahead…choose a piece of clothing. Then take it a step further and please share with us a simple reflection of what it means to you in light of Julian’s imagery.

About Monique Jacobs

Director of Faith Formation at Catholic Diocese of Reno; I believe in the connectedness of all people and take joy in my faith. I'm always looking at what else God has in store and where the next invitation to growth will come from.

Posted on June 25, 2012, in Summer 2012, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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