Wednesday, 12 June 2019


Once upon a time a dandelion came to be growing in a meadow.  The dandelion whispered to amino acids and nutrients in the soil: “You need only to allow yourselves to be dissolved in a drop of water and I will suck you up through my roots.  You won’t feel a thing. Afterwards, you will be able to grow and flower and fly away in the wind as 1,000 miniature parachutes carrying seed.”
“OK,” said the amino acids and other nutrients, let themselves be dissolved in rainwater, and sucked up through the roots, and became dandelion.  

The next morning a rabbit came hopping along the meadow. “Good Morning!” the rabbit said to dandelion. “How would you like to become rabbit?  You’ll have to allow yourself to become nibbled and swallowed.  It hurts a little, but then you will be able to jump bounce and romp in the moonlight, wiggle your ears, have baby rabbits.” The dandelion was not overly enthusiastic, but the idea of hopping sounded like a lot more fun than just being stuck, in one place. “Okay,” said the dandelion with a sigh, and allowed itself to be munched, and become a rabbit. 

Toward evening a hunter came by, “Good Evening!” said hunter to rabbit (for he was an unusually polite hunter). “How would you like to become human?  You must allow yourself to be chased, shot, skinned, cooked, and eaten. It isn’t pleasant I admit, but afterwards you’ll be able to play yoyo, sing in a shower and fly in a jet plane.”  The rabbit was scared, but flying in jet plane seemed so exciting that the idea was irresistible.  So, sniffing a little and wiping away a tear, the rabbit mumbled “OK,” went through that ordeal, and became human. 

The next morning the human became aware of a unifying presence just beyond any personal reach: “Tell me, how would you like to become God?”  It is a whimsical story but the point is not. Worldy life is Being in communion.  God sleeps in the rock, dreams in the plant, stirs in the animal, and begins to awaken in the human.  Proverbs celebrates this divine wisdom delighting in the human being before creation even began, so we are a soul in God’s image, one with the one who is One, Jesus, in whose spirit we can awaken to overcome the world.

The Spirit is really One reality.  Universe means One changing, we breathe the same air, like it or not, as St Paul said, members of one another. The trees breathe out, we breathe in, both of us made of the same matter as stars.  We are one. But, if you have travelled on a tube train you will know we forget this and think we are separate instead.

A BBC news report last week called the surprising benefits of talking to strangers suggested people stay in isolation, believing that reaching a stranger would make both feel uncomfortable, and we underestimate the positive impact of connecting with others, for our own, and others', wellbeing.

Instead, we distract ourselves with entertainment and control, with television about my body, my house, my garden, as if the limit of what we can do stops in the mirror or at the garden fence.  Educated as individual bundles of genetic patterns deployed by a controlling independent ego, we think we are opposed to other controlling independent egos, we think we are autonomous consumers, we are reduced to what we can measure, aspiring to our purchases and lifestyle choices, in the technological bondage of a closed human conceptual system. This is also called sin.
So, true religion reminds us a person is part of one greater more than personal whole.  Life is beyond us, within us, and between us, and each of these is One. Trinity means the Big Bang source of the universe, the inspiration found in Jesus, and the energy God sends now, the Holy Spirit, are one.

Rublev’s icon of the Trinity, above, painted in 1410, shows Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three androgynous beings, heads bowed, deferring to one another. A space in the front of the picture welcomes you to sit, and join in their eternal life.  Another way to say this is that knower, known and knowing are One. This mutual indwelling reminds us we have one mutual source, one true Self, one dynamic dance.  Such is the spiritual intimacy between Father beyond, Son within and Spirit between, that they enter into each other, permeate each other, dwell in each other. The Greek term for this is perichoresis, but it means God knows God in you and I as a shared being, love and knowledge, as Gregory of Nyssa said. Christian writer David Bentley Hart calls Experience of God truth consciousness and bliss. St Francis of Assisi said: you are looking for what is looking.  Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said the eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me. Ephesians says, One Lord and Father of all, above all, through all, and in all, to bring unity to all things in heaven on earth under Christ.  Jesus said: “You Father are in me, I am in you and they in us.”   

This Trinity took centuries to argue over and formulate. People had a problem saying Jesus of Nazareth was divine because it threatened their Jewish belief that God is One, so they resolved it by saying God governs from Heaven, Jesus of Nazareth revealed this in person and the Spirit communicates it now, and these three are one being, Homo-ousious to use Greek language of the day, in three co-eternal persons, ie. none of them came first.  

Like us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a personal process in relationship with one spirit. We think we have a static skeleton, but our personal skeleton is regularly replaced by new material, so we are not static, even beyond death. Like us, persons of the Trinity are not distinguished by different hair colour or likes and dislikes but relating differently, Fatherhood beyond, Son-ship within, holiness between.

God is not a thing, so St Augustine said as soon as you start counting you are in heresy. In the Bible One spirit descended on Jesus like a dove to confirm him Son of God, but that one spirit bears witness with our spirit we are heirs of God with him. This is the challenge, to release the very autonomy we use in the world.

But releasing a personal grasp is also participating in divine life. We have a personality, but we are a soul, we cannot live until we let our soul indwell mutually in God the spirit, because life is more than genes and psychological patterns. So….. in the name of the Trinity I invite you to become still.  Feel your breath rise and fall, ask yourself if you are making it happen, or is God breathing you.  Feel the weight of your body. Notice colour. Hear sound. Notice silence from which they rise, to which they fall. Rest alert, with your neighbour, in presence beyond person, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all +

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


‘As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they be one in us … so they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one.’ That is Jesus, in John 17. 

You might think his language has nothing to do with ordinary life, but last weekend I was in Liverpool to see the Champions league final, and as psychiatrist Carl Jung described, it was a pool of Life, all life, one life. At one moment, towards the end of the game, I looked out of the window to see a one legged man in a wheelchair wearing a big red joke wig and a grin, fans waving red flares and air horns and flags, bouncing, singing and throwing beer, hen party women letting it all hang out, beggars drinking, and it struck me that in all this ordinary life only one life was being lived through all these lunatics, and I was one of them, of course.

That night, rules did not apply. Cars were driving through red lights and stopping at green, people were shouting from cars, and the next day three quarters of a million people welcomed the team and the European cup home, all pulling each other onto the top of buildings and road signs and traffic lights to get a view. The police were hopelessly outnumbered, but they didn’t mind, in that moment all of us were as One, one pool of life. But you don’t have to be a football fan to know oneness is more obvious as you move from the most important but most disconnected thing in the world, me, to wider concerns, friends, family, team, county, country, continent, cosmos.  Some people say religion is irrelevant to this truth of unity. For such people, here is a story. 

A man prayed “Lord, show me the truth.” The Lord said: “Yes but I am thirsty. Can you fetch some water first?” “I will,” replied the man, and he went. 

A little distance away was a village. He entered in search of water and knocked at a door, which was opened by a beautiful girl. At the sight of her the man forgot his Lord waiting at home for water. He forgot everything and began to talk. All day he did not return to his Lord. The next day he was again talking to the girl. The talk ripened into love. He asked the father for the daughter, and they were married and lived there and had children. Twelve years passed. His father-in-law died, he inherited property. He lived, as he thought anyway, a very happy life, with his work, his wife and his children.

But one night the river rose until it overflowed its banks and flooded the village. Houses fell, men and animals were swept away and drowned, and everything was floating in the rush of the stream. The man had to escape. With one hand he held his wife and with the other, two children. Another child was on his shoulders, and he was trying to cross this tremendous flood to get to safety. After a few steps he found the current too strong, and the child on his shoulders fell to be borne away. A cry of despair came from the man. In trying to save that child, he lost his grasp on the others, and they were lost too. At last, his wife, whom he clasped with all his might, was also torn away by the current. He was left weeping and wailing on the bank.

Behind him there came a gentle voice: “My child, I am still waiting for the water, and you have been gone for half an hour.” “Half an hour!” the man exclaimed. Twelve years had passed in his mind, and people had been born and died. This is the truth behind the unity of nature. As 2 Peter 3 says; “Dear Friends, with the Lord, a day is 1,000 years, and 1,000 years, is just a day.” So….

Even if you do have a good life, which many of us do not, nature, good as it is, makes slaves of us, the natural world swept away before eternity. Without God, we put patches on human nature until it is a hopeless ruin. Who has not felt this?  And yet, a voice inside tells us we are free, and that the truth shall make us free.  This is God’s voice.

Come unto me all that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, said Jesus. In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. This freedom is why there is struggle, difficulty, competition and cruelty in the natural world, because it is moving us on to freedom, that truth that we really are one with God, not just nature. And I don’t mean when we die.  As President Macron said the other day commemorating the D Day landings, whatever it takes we will stand together, because it is our common destiny.

So Jesus does not pray for us to be nice to each other, to get along, to eliminate difference, to agree a common plan, to be tolerant, to be unanimous, to have consensus, but to be one, just as he and the Father are also one. Jesus’ prayer that we be and live like God means we go beyond the most important thing in the world, me, my body mind and intellect, to friends, family, team, county, country, continent, cosmos, to the ultimate unity in our own soul, boundless being, knowledge, love, oneness with God, so the finite and the infinite are one.

Then life is beyond mere birth and death. Life is not the opposite of birth or death, it transcends both. I was not born, I will not die, because, I am the soul, in God. Oneness means transcending the opposites of birth or death, good or evil, male or female; old or young, rich or poor; gay or straight; conservative or liberal; educated or uneducated; theist or atheist, Christian or Muslim; heaven or earth.  Anything less than eternal life is playing with opposites, like a man in Belfast in the 1970's who feels a gun at his head. A voice says; “Protestant or Catholic?” “Jew” he replies. “I must be the luckiest Arab in Belfast!” says a voice

Jesus, fully divine, fully human, invites us into the same sacramental presence embodied in the flesh of the physical word, which is a shadow of infinite light. Jesus’ prayer echoes the ancient Jewish prayer in Deuteronomy 6:4, Shema Yisrael, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is one. That means nature is a unity behind whom is God and we are created in God’s image, who commands do not worship other Gods, which means there is One, and if we think our idea of God is better than someone else’s it isn’t God at all, it isn't One differentiated consciousness.

The differences
and divisions, like us and them, Brexit, America first, the Indian Nationalist party, do not exist out there in the world, but in the human heart. We project fragments to see fragments. Jesus prayed instead we could be One.

Jesus knew Oneness is not eliminating difference but seeing that it is not separation. Jesus told us to Love God, Love neighbour, Love self, and Love enemy, because he knew the one Self we call God is manifested in nature as many personalities. The un-manifest God-likeness is oneness. There is only God. You don’t need to be persuaded to love someone who is also you. People who do not do this have not yet shed the veil of the senses, but it will happen.

In the meantime, they still believe separation is normal, which is what sin stands for.  Wholeness has to be fully realised because it is a practice of letting anything less fall away to reveal the whole which is still waiting for us. Jesus’ prayer that we are one as he is one with God is the very moment we meet the glory of God and know that it is us. So go on, in the name of one Truth, the Father, one Son, his Consciousness, and one Bliss, the Holy Spirit. +