In and Beyond

Meister Eckhart held to a concept often called “panentheism.” For this great mystic of the Church, God is in all things. The beauty and majesty of a Gothic cathedral captures our imagination and lifts our hearts to God. God is in the cathedral. God is to be found, as Eckhart says, in the essence of anything that is truly real. Open your eyes, ears, and heart to the Present God who is everywhere. Fill your soul with the beautiful, the true and the good. The Illustrated Gospels of Ireland and Northumbria express the same heart-desire.

The oratory on the Isle of Iona, on the other hand, is very simple. Inside it is merely a rectangular room with a very simple altar at one end. It stands in counterpoint to the beauty of the cathedral, and bids the human soul look past the physical rather than through it, to find the mystery of God in the denial rather than the affirmation. Less is more. Don’t get caught up in the illusion of the visible. Look beyond. The Gutenberg Bible’s stark simplicity expresses this desire.

In and beyond, here and there. The family and the foreigner. The familiar and the strange. Boundaries and crossings. Liturgy and silence. Open and closed. Life is lived in the tension between these apparent opposites, for only from in that tension can we realize that there really is no tension at all.

 

Canterbury Cathedral: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/best-gothic-cathedrals

2 Though the word is not used, for an explanation of the concept see https://www.iep.utm.edu/eckhart/#H5, topic #5

3 https://www.tcd.ie/trinitylongroomhub/whats-on/details/event.php?eventid=124565293

4 https://shalem.org/2017/12/08/iona-a-pilgrimage-in-image-and-word/

5 http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/91678?search_no=1&index=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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