The mystery of Incarnation into “I”dentity

“Guardini says that if the heart yields to the call, then something happens to it: for the first time appears the genuine center. The genuine center, the counterpart of the divine center that is calling, for the first time awakens-the genuine God-intended self, the real self. So what we are aiming for in prayer…is this awakening of a genuine center, an authentic personal center that the counterpart to the divine center that is calling.”
Thomas Merton

The being of Christ requires all of Reality to constantly encounter Him. For, there is no metaphysical space where He is not. That is what the mystics sang. 

And i would add that true identity is where He is. Whatever is not in Him is not true, real viable, whole. Whatever is in Him is real. Our true image is the part of us that is in Him.

When we come to the question of who we are, we are asking the implied question of where He is. And He is where we have truly entered into Reality. Even rebellious creatures exist in relation to God–in their case, in reaction against. But that they are reacting proves Him to be the ground of all being. If we exist at all, God does. David’s Psalm 139 is about this metaphysical truth. That God knows and is Lord over all of Reality. He can also be met in any realm, region or dimension of what is.

In order to be, or exist, there must be a container of relationship. For us to be born, there must be a womb. To find our own contours is to push on the walls or edges of this spiritual womb. God is there, so we have edges, contours, ends and beginnings, we have identity. We exist in direct relationship to Him.

Christ came that we might have real life. Our true life. And as He incarnates, this true life starts to take shape within us, as if He were birthing Himself into our unique contours. We actually enter His Own dialogue with His Father, and get caught up in this conversation. That is we enter the true conversation the Son and The Father are having throughout the universe. In many ways, prayer is overhearing this conversation, and agreeing with it. He is offering us through His Own Being, our own being. My old self dies into and with Christ, to find my true self. This is the re-birthing of a spiritual landscape within us. This is the conversion process. We are being converted into His Life, and thereby into more of our own true life.

We are born again. A new map enters. This “genuine center” Merton writes of, is activated. He is able to shape Himself in us, as if we were both trying on one another as costumes or fashion. We wear Him, and He wears us–our real us. Our eternal us. The us, that is written on white stones in heaven. The us whose name we have heard whispered in dreams. The us that we wish and somehow know we are. The true eternal you, you were meant and born to be. 

To become this eternal you, requires an exchange of clothes metaphysically. The more of Him I wear, the more of me is made visible. So we say, not I but Christ, who is wearing me. But we also mean, when it is not i, it is even more true “I”. That is the mystery of conversion in terms of identity. That is regeneration, spiritual rebirth. That is also what it means to be a Christian i think. For the concept of dying to the old self and being reborn, infers that we are born to a new self, our true self.

It is not to be possessed by God, but to have God incarnate in us, and make us more ourselves. Our forever selves are the ones hidden and shadowed in His Being. So we surrender, and He gives us back the real version of ourselves. It is a one of a kind exchange. I die to live. I give everything, and He gives it back, in its true version. As if, we give him the black and white version of ourselves, and He gives us the full length color version of the same film. 

People want to know who they really are. They want to be seen, beheld as whole. I think this is a basic human need. You can see it clearly in early childhood development. There is this need to be seen, to say look at “me”, to prove that one exist. What happens with God is that He fully, turns and looks at you. He beholds your entire being. In short, God sees you. He searches and knows you, beholds every contour and fold of your being, for He created it, and can know His Own creation. As we come into conversion, what changes, is not God, but us; we enter the dialogue of beholding! Our true “I” is formed as we gaze at God’s “Thou” (as the Jewish thinker Martin Buber would put it). That is the eye of our heart is opened to see Him and therefore ourselves. We can now behold back some. We can start to see more face to face. As I behold God, I am gradually transformed, because I am seeing the One who fully sees me. It is like looking in the true mirror, where my true reflection is refracted perfectly off the glass. Or like looking into the eyes of a loving Father, and catching the reflection of yourself in His Eyes.

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