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Love and Peace

There’s unrest in my heart as I take to the task of writing a blog about peace that is due on Valentine’s Day. Peace AND love in one post! Ironically, perhaps paradoxically, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is playing in the background at the coffee shop. I am not comfortably numb. How can I be comfortably numb when the saint of passionate peace, Francis of Assisi, is in my heart, as he is in the hearts of Franciscans all around the world, including here at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie, Oregon? But how can I have peace and love in my heart, like Francis, while still feeling unrest or anxiety?

Francis would cry in the streets. When asked why he was crying his response was, “LOVE is not loved!” I put the word “love” in caps and italicized it to emphasize something. We can only speculate on what Francis meant by his passionate proclamation based on our inner experiences of him. The “little poor man” who quickly, and enduringly became renowned for his deep peace, was tuned into the God of Jesus, with that same Christ consciousness as Jesus, Mary, and the prophets of old. This is the God who is not only experienced as “loving,” but IS THE “LOVE” in which we “live, and move, and have our being (Acts:17-28).” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his inspired book, “The Prophets,” refers to this God as “THE MOST MOVED MOVER!” This is also the God who is the “peace that surpasses all understanding!” Pure and perpetual peace! Pure and perpetual passion! A paradox that surpasses rational human understanding

“So Mark,” you may ask, “why did you use bold print, underlining, and an exclamation mark?” Because, in our times, when reason and thinking are exalted over even the deepest spiritual experiences of multitudes of mystics throughout the ages, to suggest that there is a “God” whose heart breaks is a bold proclamation! With our either/or rational mind we cannot conceive of eternity let alone be with the tension that arises when considering an eternal reality lovingly acting in time. When we rationally dismiss any notion of our eternal divinity in the ETERNAL DIVINE our sense of time becomes self-centered. We think, “If God does not act in a time frame that seems logical and compassionate to me, then there must not be a god who cares. It’s just another children’s fairy tale to make believers comfortably numb and very annoying!”

Why is your heart breaking? Why, when you have done so much psycho/spiritual work to experience peace and love are you experiencing unrest and sometimes feel like crying and shouting in the streets? Are peace and love incompatible with unrest and broken hearts?

Check out these quotes from a couple of modern day mystics:

“Many of the happiest and most authentic people I know love a God who walks with crucified people and thus reveals and “redeems” their plight as God’s own. For them, God is not observing human suffering from a distance but is somehow in human suffering with us and for us. Such a God includes our suffering in the co-redemption of the world, as ‘all creation groans in one great act of giving birth’ (Romans 8:22).

Is this possible? Could it be true that we ‘make up in our bodies all that still has to be undergone for the sake of the Whole Body’ (Colossians 1:24)? Are we somehow partners with the divine? Of course we are! In fact, I think that is the whole point. The mystic knows there is only one suffering and we all participate in it together: the eternal suffering love of God.

Jesus takes on our suffering, bears it, and moves through it to resurrection. This is ‘the paschal mystery.’ We too can follow this path, actively joining God’s loving solidarity with all suffering since the foundation of the world.” - Richard Rohr

“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty and suffering of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.” - Andrew Harvey

When I look at the photo included in this post, I see signs of the understandable attempt to protect a broken heart. Life is hard. I also see that the heart remains vulnerable. The protective measures are BOTH understandable AND, will, in the “fullness of time,” prove to be useless!

The spiritual directors, mind/body workers, and retreat facilitators at the Franciscan Spiritual Center are skilled at being lovingly present as you come to find THE MOST MOVED MOVER moving to integrate your head and your heart into your whole being. We know that our divine experience of peace and love are intimately united with our human experiences, including unrest and anxiety. Engaging with our Franciscan community provides ways to help you to renew your love for LOVE and PEACE!

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