Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. While it focuses on Christian teaching, I hope persons of varied faiths will find inspiration here. Indeed, "God" can be whatever image helps us trust in the Sacred, by whatever means Grace touches us each. Please share this ministry with others, and please return soon. There is a new offering daily. And to be placed on the daily OneLife email list, to request notifications of new writings or submit prayer requests, write to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Brian Kenneth Wilcox MDiv, MFT, PhD
Interspiritual Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, and Chaplain.
You are invited to join Brian at his fellowship group on Facebook. The group is called OneLife Ministries – An Interspiritual Contemplative Fellowship. Hope to see you there. Blessings.
MY Confession of Faith
A LOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST
and through JESUS CHRIST
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of the One;
the skies display the Divine artwork.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make Spirit known.
3 They speak without sound or word;
a voice is never heard.
Is not a problem
To be solved,
A question to be answered.
Life is a mystery
To be contemplated,
*Anthony de Mello, “The Symphony,” Wellsprings
It may indeed be fantasy when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wise world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! And Thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice.
*Samuel Coleridge, “To Nature”
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We rarely here the word awe spoken. Generally, we hear “awful,” which speaks of displeasure. The word “awe” has close associations with spirituality. The word derives form the Greek meaning “pain.” “Awe” began to be used in English for “fear, dread.” Then, it spoke of a power to inspire fear or reverence. Now, “awe” is used for something inspiring feelings like wonder, astonishment, reverence, … Possibly, we do not hear “awe” used much, for we have, in our pragmatic, logical Western world, largely lost the sensitivity required for healthy feelings of awe.
Religion, we would think, as in the past, would be a primary center of awe. We would think worship would be awe-inspiring. Rather, most churches are too pragmatic and secular minded, and not spiritually devoted enough, to nurture and experience a consistent sensation of awe.
Likewise, much of Christianity has focused on the supposed fallenness of creation and humans. This fallenness is based principally on the myth of Adam and Eve, likely two characters that have symbolic meanings, but were not historical persons. So, rather than celebrating the innate goodness of creation and persons, all Nature, most of the church has taught Nature as marred, and humans as innately corrupt.
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However, other Christians have raised the voice that this is simply untenable, and based on a strand of theology flowing principally from the dualistic minded St. Augustine. Here is an assessment, in brief, and the results of seeking the blessedness of Nature:
Since Augustine, many Christians ... and many consumer-driven capitalists have pinned their religious faith on the idea of original sin, an idea denied by Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Celtic Christianity, and Unitarian Universalism. Original sin is also denied by Matthew Fox, a ... theologian, writer, and teacher who has been called “a green prophet” by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a dangerous radical, heretic, and blasphemer by the Vatican.
Fox rejects the idea of our innate sin and inevitable punishment and proposes a creation-centered spirituality - a philosophy of mystical artistry, universal compassion, and the celebration of the divine within each human soul. Creation-centered spirituality blends science (knowledge of creation), mysticism (experiential union with creation), and art (expression of our awe at creation). When Original Blessing replaces Original Sin, relationships of awe, of passion and compassion, of love for justice and for the earth, are resurrected.
*www.rowecenter.org . “Original Blessing & Mysticism.”
Here is a key issue pertaining to how we see Nature and ourselves. How we see Creation, and ourselves as part of It, is essential to how we respond to It. When we see the innate beauty and goodness, joyful and reverential awe fill our lives, affect our emotions positively, and inspire us to love and seek justice for Creation.
We can contrast this with St. Augustine's belief that babies are born sinful and doomed to hell, needing baptism to protect them against the tortures of a hell. Much of Christianity has followed with the same mentality regarding the newborn infant as sin-infested. Contrast this with seeing a newborn baby as innately beautiful, wonderful, holy, sacred, free of damnation, and blessed.
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Mysticism links with this. Nondual mystics see the Divine in the world, and the world in the Divine, in a union of Grace and Love. We are likely part of Nature that is many-dimensional, and potentially infinite-dimensional in scope. This all is part of God, and God is within it – is the life of each part.
So, these realities of mysticism, Nature, innate blessing-goodness, and God go together. I offer this as a viable alternative to the overly-pragmatic, typically irreverential, original sin, and God-separate religion many of us have been educated in. We are each part of a Universe that is a living organism – living, mindful, dynamic, moving, pulsating, holy, …
* * *
We do not need to “transcend” the world to fully experience the Divine; rather, the Divine is present to be experienced in and through the world of Nature. We love God by loving Nature; we adore the Divine in the awe-inspiring communion with Life. We meet God in each other's faces.
Likewise, feeling and knowing the blessing and goodness of Nature, and its diversity, we do not have to fear the wisdom of differing faiths and spiritualities. We are free to explore and appreciate how the divine Wisdom manifests in many, many ways. Historical faiths and wisdom paths are part of Creation, of Nature, the Living Body of Spirit.
* * *
This means we can have a theology open to the progresses in life, integrating past and present into future. This contrasts with the fearful and passive obedience many give to theology as ideology. Matthew Fox lists this among his “95 Theses or Articles of Faith for a Christianity of the Third Millennium”:
Ideology is not theology and ideology endangers the faith because it replaces thinking with obedience, and distracts from the responsibility of theology to adapt the wisdom of the past to today's needs. Instead of theology it demands loyalty oaths to the past.
Additionally, we do not need to see faith and scientific evolution as beyond integration. Rather, any truth of evolution within Nature can be seen as the ongoing, marvelous artistry of Spirit working in and through matter to manifest the Divine Wisdom - the Good, True, Beautiful.
* * *
Before proceeding, let us return to the opening poem. De Mello speaks of a positive message about Nature and human life. In most Christian theology, life, nature, and humanness is seen as a major problem to be remedied. What if, rather, we saw all this as a wonderful divine pageantry, a beautiful and innately wondrous and good display of the Divine, a marvel to marvel at in awe?
That this more positive, affirmative theology and life-view does not exclude the reality of brokenness, harmful behavior, and the social chaos from the errancy of human choice and behavior, this article will not entertain. Needless to say, there is much gone wrong within Nature; yet, this need not be due to an innate flaw in It, or an innate sinfulness within the human person.
* * *
I have a dear friend who blesses me often, almost daily, with her appreciation of the beauty of life and Nature. She sends me beautiful pictures of natural wonders and, also, beautiful music from varied cultures around the world. Obviously, she sees the world as a wonderful place to be and appreciate – an awe-inspiring field of Grace. This same appreciation of beauty is reflected in her writings and being. We see outside, indeed, what is inside. And, by appreciating the beauty and wonder outside us, that same grows inside us.
Therefore, mystical contemplation is not the denial of Nature. In this contemplation we experience the finer energies of Nature – the world as we usually experience it is only one aspect of the whole of Nature -, beyond the frequencies of sensation we typically have, except on rare and surprising occasions.
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I wrote the following to a friend, December 2004, after a phone conversation, when my mind-heart was deeply moved during the sharing:
When I say things like "I am almost crying...," that is how I feel about life. And, the joy of tears - some persons do not grasp this joy that could manifest in tears of bliss. I cannot put it into words: it is the feeling of gratitude and grace. It is simply the simple, wonderful, awe-inspired sensation that witnesses to Love, and that Love is everywhere.
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When was the last time you cried, not because you were hurting or sad, or mad, but because you were awe-struck at the gift of this Life? I speak of this as awe-full. The world is an awe-full place to live! Nature is filled with awe. Blessed are those who shed tears from “seeing” the Beauty of Life.
To appreciate this wonder and mystery of Life, of the World, of persons, we see the world as a place not there simply for our use. Many cultures manipulate Nature, and do not rightly see Nature as having existence deserving of love and respect in Itself. If we see Nature and others as mere means to our practical ends, such as making money or pleasing us, we cannot rightly cherish Nature.
The Hebrew Scriptures, or Tanak, in Genesis 1, pictures Adonai proclaiming that each creation is “good.” Yet, at the end, “good” becomes “very good.” This word tov speaks of innate worth and beauty.
Nature is a mystery to be loved and respected, and we are part of that Nature. We are Nature. Nature is you and me.
Recall a time when you felt awe. When was that? Who was present? Or, were you alone? What were the surroundings? What did you feel in your body? In Silence, close your eyes, relax. When ready, in your mind go to that time and relive it. Whatever feelings you had then, feel them again. When ready, leave the scene and return only to breathing. Breathing in and out, let the sensations of that time linger in the body. When ready, let go of the sensations and breathe gratitude to the Creating Spirit. After a time, open the eyes and relax. You can go back to that time anytime you choose. That memory reminds you of a Mystery that often you may forget, but is always with you and ready to remind you that your life is a wonder-full life and this world an awe-full Temple of Beauty and Grace. Amen.
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*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis. While within the Christian path, he is an ecumenical-interspiritual teacher, author, and chaplain. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Jail, Punta Gorda, FL.
*Brian welcomes responses to his writings at email@example.com . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.
*You can order his book An Ache for Union from major booksellers.