Thoughts on Kenosis at the River

After making an early morning airport run, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went down to the river on this early Saturday morning. It was interesting to observe that there was a whole array of parked cars with people drinking coffee and reading newspapers in them. Must be a weekend routine for some!

There also seemed to be a regular crowd that comes to hang out and walk their dogs - they bantered back and forth about them - catching up on the events and details of the week...

I watched all of this with some amount of dispassion as I sipped coffee, and thought of a child - now growing into a young woman - whose birthday it is today. I sent her birthday wishes - and blessings of love - in a shower of grace - and promised to offer my meditations for her later today...

I walked about surveying the river from its banks for a while, feeling totally open ended in my day and coming week, and was drawn in by thoughts I had on passages I read by Catherine de Hueck Doherty before I went to sleep last night...

I have always been drawn to - and fascinated by the theological term "kenosis", which Catherine describes as: "the emptying of oneself to be filled with Christ." The term comes from Philippians 2.7 where there is a reference to Jesus emptying himself on the cross. The term can be interpreted as implying sacrifice - but I have always understood it as giving of oneself in one's totality - and putting the needs of others before oneself. I see it as complimenting - or putting the Boddhisattva vow - from a Buddhist perspective - into action. And from a Vedantic point of view, it enables the seeker to detach from this world in order to become one with the Divine.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the meaning of this term a lot, as I remembered a Lutheran minister telling me, while I was working on my doctorate in the late eighties, that he felt that embodying the essence of kenosis was my life's mission.

From a Vedantic perspective, I believe that living out the mandate of kenosis both releases karma and attachments to this life, which is necessary to penetrate the more subtle realms where one encounters the Divine. While challenging and difficult to enflesh, kenosis is a gift for those who are up to the task of living it.

It is so interesting to consider how different theological and philosophical concepts relate to different strands of thought in varying traditions...

From Catherine's writings:

"There are certain moments in your prayers of thinking - moments in your life with God - when suddenly you are saying or doing with all your heart and soul...'Take my mind and my will, Lord, and cleanse them...'

Now we are able to discern the will of God. Our senses are acute, attuned, because we are listening to God....[There is a] smashing of the idol of oneself...[Ah! Reference to the self vs. the Self!]

This is a hidden process...it is a giving up of one's will and oneself into the hands of God...

Kenosis cannot happen without our cooperation...

Kenosis demands a kind of death, and this dying...will draw forth new graces...

This emptying of self must continue. This contact with God has to be maintained constantly; the carrying of man's pain and sorrow and joy has to go unceasingly. Otherwise there will be breaks and gaps in our relationship with God. This cannot be allowed to happen, once we have started this journey. The going will be rough, but the joy will be ineffable..."

Catherine points out that the experience of kenosis is a life-long one of continual emptying and stripping, until one is purified. All spiritual traditions teach this concept on some level or another. It a notion that speaks to me again and again at different periods of my life, always yielding richer, and richer insights...

"Real zeal is standing still
and letting God be a bonfire in you."
~ Catherine Doherty

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sitting with Darkness

The Gift of a Blue Butterfly

Rumi - "The Lord is in Me" and "Love Said to Me"