I am grateful for one of my readers, Diane, for the following comment she left on the blog. “This card has nothing to do with building an external church of any kind, but has EVERYTHING to do with the church of LAURI.” (This was made in reference to the Blog on the tree house ). I read Diane’s comment and found myself frozen in fear. “The Church of Lauri?” Did I want to be building a church? Was it about the “church of Lauri?” Then I took a deep breath and went back and read Diane’s comment a second time and was relieved to find that I had completely misunderstood her comments. What Diane was really saying is that through the process of contemplation, we are each invited to discover and cultivate the church of God within us. Then I had to chuckle at how (for me) that simple little c-word (church) had become loaded with such emotion.
When I went back and reflected more deeply on my reaction to Diane’s comments, I was reminded of my personal struggle with differentiating between the all too human institutional Church (large-C) and the Divinely envisioned and being made manifest small-c church. In the Christian Scriptures, “the church” was understood to be the people. It was in being church that the early Christian communities came to understand their relationship with the Divine and how they were called to live that out. And it is the small-c church that continues to be revealed in the world.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12) , he refers to this small-c church as The Body of Christ. “Now you are the Body of Christ and each one of you is part of it.” In this epistle, Paul extends an invitation for us to recognize that each and every one of us are uniquely gifted to reveal the love and peace of the Divine in the world, in the same way that Jesus did. As we move toward embracing this call, we too participate in the Christhood that Jesus came to realize and reveal.
What Paul knew, but struggled to articulate, is that the journey of being the Body of Christ is largely an interior process. Through disciplined attention to our own journey of self-awareness and through the Grace of God, we are transformed. Like gold that is test in fire, we are healed and released from the fears and false perceptions that prevent us from knowing our true nature, our unique giftedness and from freely and openly sharing these truths in the world.
As I reflect upon this understanding of church, then I can wholeheartly say, “YES!” Yes, it is through contemplation that we individually participate in the Body of Christ and discover the church within. And yes, I am humbly grateful to accept the call to provide a vessel in which we can individually and collectively participate in the continuing revelation of the small-c church.
As we approach the launch of the contemplative community, (T minus 3) it will be this kind of church that I am happy to be a part of, and I thank Diane for that reminder! As we journey together in contemplation, may we come to know the church within and live that out freely in our world!