Richard Rohr, a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province, teaches primarily on incarnational mysticism, non-dual consciousness and contemplation. From his series, The Art of Letting Go, I developed a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for John’s gospel as the “Mystic’s Gospel.” He suggests, convincingly, that were it not for John’s gospel Christianity may have easily morphed into a judicial religion, not a mystical one. In John, God reveals through Jesus the real story of the indwelling of the spirit that changed the world. Jesus, Son of God, co-existant with God from the beginning, as the opening of John’s gospel proclaims:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Rohr observes that today, we individually and we as church seemed to have lost our way and forgotten this truth – the indwelling of the Word made flesh – that Christ is in us, just as Jesus, the Son, was in God, the Father.
The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit whispers this reminder as it did in this morning’s readings, I think breath – holy breath, holy oxygen, fuel for life. And I take a quick look around my life to see whether or not that holy fuel is working in and through me, animating me as Jesus was animated for the glory of God, the Father.
And in taking that survey I never fail to be reminded how important at minimum is daily dwelling in God’s Word and weekly presence at worship to the life believer’s are called to live.
It is hard work this weaving into my life the truth of the gospel, yielding to the Holy Spirit to animate my life and lead me, and not the practical enticements of this world. I haven’t always worked so hard at my life in Christ.
For years I was just so comfortable letting the truth of the gospel simply come along for the ride in the life I was leading – as a companion to talk with every now and then, to consult, to pray to, to be comforted by. And yet the gospel truth as companion alongside not inside was thus so distant as to not convict my heart let alone ground me, discipline me, transform me, lead me where He wanted me to go.
Once I began to dwell in His Word and worship more than once a week, the uncomfortable, yet glorifying, transformation began.
It is in my practice of Bikram yoga where I often connect the notion of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit with the reality of the transformative potential of Christ in me.
I know for some the idea that I encounter the Holy Spirit in what is thought of as an ‘eastern’ tradition, albeit an exercise routine, borders on heresy. To those I say, lighten up. Bikram yoga is simply the way I choose to keep in shape, physically – not spiritually. I don’t practice Bikram to get with God but that I encounter Him in my practice should be of no surprise. God is everywhere, present.
Every session begins with a breathing exercise – Pranayama breathing it is named. Imagine for a minute you are in a heated room (a tangible reminder to me that the Holy Spirit is heat, breath, fuel) standing on a mat, facing a mirror. Your eyes are open and you are looking at yourself in the mirror. You are going to make some small movements with your hands, arms, neck and you are going to breathe deeply in an out. Now, concentrate, listen and begin.
Here is a picture of what the movement looks like, followed by the script you would hear from the instructor.
And at this link you will see the exercise in motion.
Again, here, below, is what you would be hearing from the instructor as you move through these motions:
Pranayama breathing is good for the lungs and respiratory system. We practice this in the beginning of every Bikram Yoga class to warm up the body internally. This prepares your body for the rest of class because it improves circulation, gives you energy for class, and promotes a calm state of mind.
Breath is life. We spend most of our lives using a significantly small portion of our lung capacity. By practicing this breathing exercise, we strengthen our lungs to use its 100% capacity. A stronger, more elastic lung supplies the heart with more fresh oxygen. The heart, in turn, provides the body with more freshly oxygenated blood.
Now, read that again and think Holy Spirit. Think Holy Oxygen.
The in-dwelling of the Spirit in us. Christ in Us. It is the stuff of our life and the more we refresh and supply our bodies – our lives – with His Word and His Life the closer we get to living as He lived, forgiving as He forgives, loving as He loves.
How can we possibly live a life that glorifies if we are not properly fueled by the Holy Spirit? And doesn’t it take fueling and refueling over and over? Is a one time deposit of grace all our abba Father intended for becoming sanctified, for being made holy, for living into who God intended us to be, to do what we are called to do to glorify Him?
I don’t think so. At minimum I believe believers are called to a daily refueling in His Word, dwelling with Him in Scripture and a weekly dedicated corporate worship time, praising Him in worship.
This was a long post to suggest something so simple. Not a ramble like the bunny trail of unconnected dots my reflections so often suggest, but close.
At the end of the day, I am grateful for John’s gospel of mysticism and the living Word I encountered this morning.
Holy Spirit. Breath. Refueling. Practice. Transformation. It’s all good. God in us, and we in Him.
Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 131, 132, ; PM Psalm 140, 142 Jer. 26:1-16; Rom. 11:1-12; John 10:19-42