Any object that calls forth respect or reverence is the “Christ” or the anointed one for us at that moment.
I have been facilitating a spiritual book club at my church this year and each book we have chosen to read together has been aimed at helping us understand the Cosmic Christ. The section of the book (Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ) we read most recently included the above passage. Rohr uses a technique in this book where he invites the reader to stop whenever they come to a passage in italics and truly ponder-perhaps read it again, and again, and again. So, when I encountered this particular italicized passage I stopped and sat with it for a while.
We’re used to hearing that Christ is in all people, seeking him out in the layers of humanity and human relationship, but meditating on a Universal Christ requires us to go far beyond mere human interactions. This is indeed rooted in scripture, as the opening prologue to John’s Gospel is all about a God who, through the Christ, is made manifest and present in every single part of the material universe. “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” (John 1:3)
Note that Rohr’s passage above mentions respect and reverence. Re-spect, or “to see again” implies that we are to look back at something and think about it, to regard it. I think of the many things I come upon in a given day which I barely glance at a first time let alone give a second look. But this idea of pausing to really look at something is what leads to the second word, reverence. Revereri (Latin) is to stand in awe of something. How can we hope to stand in awe if we haven’t truly looked at something in the first place?
When we talk of “seeking God” in all things, what we are really talking about is connecting to the cosmic and interdependent relationship of all creation. It’s never really limited to a single exchange. At a sub-atomic level everything is touching and pushing on something else – everything is literally connected. A God who is relationship itself pulls us into God’s-self at every turn. St Bonaventure taught that, “Christ has something in common with all creatures. With the stones he shares existence, with plants he shares life, with animals he shares sensation, and with the angels he shares intelligence.” We too share something in common with all of creation.
What objects call forth respect and reverence for you? Is it a child, a garden, a stained-glass window, a beloved pet? There is the Christ… beckoning you into relationship and awe with everything that God has made. How will you respond?