“I and the Father are one.” (John 10: 30)
Thirty years ago I assumed that those words were solely about Jesus. Today I believe those words are about me (and you and you and you!). Thirty years ago a belief that Jesus and God inhabited the same spiritual body meant that Jesus deserved some form of honor and worship. He was eternal and God-like. I was a mere rotting human. Today I do not believe that. Today I believe that Jesus was just holding a mirror up to the rest of us. If he was both divine and human, so are we.
Today is the first posting for a new weekly series I am titling Mystic Mondays. Less than a month ago we concluded a 40-day Lenten pilgrimage and blog conversation on the theme “Between Two Worlds.” I am very pleased to remind you again that the pilgrimage did its work (as I have come to expect when one enters an unknown landscape with only an intention).
I went into the period of Lent and blogging feeling like I was caught between two worlds, much like I felt as I embarked on my first pilgrimage (www.pedalpilgrim.com/book) in 2011 as I felt the church world dying away along with my livelihood. I briefly broke through that spiritual schizophrenia on my Rome to Rumi pilgrimage, but the realities of life pulled me back into it not too many months after my return.
This last Lenten pilgrimage that I took while sitting at a computer desk (rather than a hard leather bicycle seat) again broke through the two world confusion. I emerged from the other side feeling very much like I am no longer straddling two worlds; rather that I have a particular and specific call to articulate the bridge that I believe spans both sides of the religious/spiritual divide.
That bridge is the language of religious mysticism. Those who lean more toward the spiritual side may balk at the reference to religion and those who are holding the pews down may bristle at the language of mysticism. But the truth is that our religious traditions have whole chapters dedicated to the experience of Christian mysticism. And millions of people today are acting like mystics, even if they don’t have the benefit of the label or the language.
My mysticism came through Jesus. Somewhere along the way I went from feeling like Jesus wanted my worship and obedience to feeling like he was offering me a divine invitation. Do you remember that wonderful scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally? (C’mon, you know which scene I am talking about. You’re not going to make me describe it for you, are you? Okay, you win.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE
Sally (Meg Ryan)and Harry (Billy Crystal)l are sitting in a delicatessen discussing Harry’s casual dismissive approach to women. Harry tells Sally, “It’s not like they don’t have a good time.” “How do you know?” Sally asks. Harry replies, “Believe me, I know.” There is an awkward exchange about whether the women he has been with are really having a good time or just faking “it.” Harry returns to his meal. Sally starts moaning until she has worked herself up to a full blown screaming good time. The rest of the deli patrons all fall silent with their jaws hanging down below their collars. After the fireworks have all exploded the woman at the next table tells the waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
I don’t know if Jesus was faking it, but I do know that whatever divine cocktail he was drinking I want the same thing. Whatever it was about how he lived his life that allowed him to confidently say, “I and the Father are one,” I want to live that way too. I want to experience the same all-inclusive welcome that he offered equally to both saints and sinners. I want to know what it feels like to be willing to die for love and to place my life in service of a cause and a spirit much larger than myself. I want to taste the Life that Jesus tasted. I want to feel the same divine pleasure Jesus felt.
In a word, I am no different than the woman at the deli who exclaimed, “I’ll have what’s she’s having.” Whatever Jesus had I want it too. “In fact, God, could you make it a double?”