A BREAKING OPEN The Unfolding Presence of God

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1 THE UNFOLDING PRESENCE OF GOD - MYSTERY OF THE DIVINE A BREAKING OPEN The Unfolding Presence of God While our efforts to name the Mystery of the Divine will always remain limited, the description above, taken from the Formation Framework for Edmund Rice Communities in Oceania, captures what surfaced from the various dialogues into formation that took place in 2013; that we participate in and with the mysterious presence of a loving God; and that this participation leads us into an unfolding relationship with all life. Imagining God s presence in this way also invites us into recognising this divine movement in a constant state of giving and receiving; a movement that in many ways echoes the following thought by Derrida about the pursuit of philosophy: It proceeds with the infinite insistence of waves on a beach: return and repetition, always, of the same wave against the same shore, in which, however, as each return recapitulates itself, it also infinitely renews and enriches itself 1 1 J. Derrida Violence and Metaphysics 1

2 The unfolding presence of God God is an infinite sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere Hermes Trismegistus Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you (John 17:21) LET IT GO Let it go, Let it out, Let it all unravel, Let it free And it will be A path on which to travel. Michael Leunig Click the link below to view the cartoon for this poem Our participation with this unfolding divine presence Made in the image and likeness of this mystery, we are inherently caught up in a participatory dance with a grace that flows. As we stumble and fall, we too, like Meister Eckhart, may be surprised to realise that, God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk. Or in radical joy, join Catherine of Genoa, proclaiming, My deepest me is God and the Brothers who declared at Chapter in Munnar, Come follow me to the edge, into the deeper and wider dimensions of living that you may discover the God who awaits you. The following poem by William Stafford and the animation (linked below) capture our human journey with the mystery of God s unfolding presence The Way It Is There s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time s unfolding. You don t ever let go of the thread. William Stafford 2

3 RESTING The following extract reveals the transformative power that we can fall into when we allow ourselves to surrender to God s loving grace. Experiencing God We re here today because of Edmund Rice, two years back I was in Ireland when they were exhuming the body of Blessed Edmund because they wanted to study the skull and to try to use modern technology to discover, What would he have looked like when he died? And we have scientists who are able to do that now. And so when the coffin was opened and I saw the bones that were there and I put my hands in and I picked up the skull, and I looked at it I did not say, Alas poor Yorick [Hamlet]! I looked at that and I said, Do you know the trouble you have caused me? But I also wondered what quirk of fortune was it that brought me from India right across to Ireland and brings me here again - one person and I look at his life someone who at the age of forty deciding to leave everything that he knew and take on something that he knew nothing about! And to start off an enterprise to sell everything and then do it! There was no turning back and enough people told him that what he was doing was foolish and I keep asking myself, Where does someone get courage like that? Where does someone get courage like that? And the answer is an experience of God! Nothing else will change a person s life except an experience of God. You may use all the other terms you want instead of the word God, use anything else you want but at the heart of it is a spirit that flows through our Universe that almost demands from us a response! (Br Phillip Pinto) the question is not, How am I to find God?, but, How am I to let myself be found by him? The question is not, how am I to know God, but, how am I to let myself be known by God. And finally, the question is not, how am I to love God? but. how am I to let myself be loved by God? (from Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son A Story of Homecoming) 3

4 Allow the following reflections to lead you into a prayerful openness to the presence of God s love What might Edmund s experience of God have been? The image below taken from the Icon of Edmund Rice presents Edmund in a pose of surrender before a spiralled unfolding of presence of God. As you reflect on some of the images that portray key moments of Edmund s life, consider prayerfully, what might have been his experience of God? Edmund's Experience of God.pptx 4

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6 6 Awakening to your experience of God Recall, as you place yourself before the spiral of God s unfolding love, the presence of God in your own story.

7 Deepening The powerpoint (link below) by Stephen Bevans, Professor of Mission and Culture at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, USA, expands on the idea of God as a movement in partnership with humanity and all of creation to acknowledge this movement as a contemporary way of understanding and living out mission. Questions for deeper inquiry and reflection For Yourself As I am drawn to reflect on my experience of God, what surprises me? What am I being drawn towards? What do I need to be more open to? For Community In what way do we as a community allow ourselves to encounter and experience the presence of God? What would it require of us to be open to the presence of God? Given the experience we provide for our all in our community, who is the God that we encounter? ALLOWING As we bring this reflection to a close, sit with these questions and allow a response to emerge within you. Reflecting on Edmund s relationship with God How was Edmund moved by the Spirit? How was he immersed in Relationship with all life on earth? How did he surrender to God s liberating call to be an agent of transformation? 7

8 Reflecting on Our Participation with God Recall and hold your reflections on your own experience of God and that of Edmund s What patterns are at play? What does it reveal about God and our Sacred Story? How are you being called to participate in the unfolding of our Sacred Story? 8

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