Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness. The precise and intended effect of such a light is to see Christ everywhere else. In fact, that is my only definition of a true Christian. A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. ~Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ.
This year of 2020 may well be one of the most eventful and muddled in the lifetimes of many of us. With the global pandemic/economic crisis followed immediately by the tragic and unjust death of George Floyd, our vision for a future as a cohesive society seems quite cloudy at this point. All of which makes it ironic that “2020” is often the term used to describe clear seeing. Could it even be possible that the events of this unprecedented year might result in us seeing our world, ourselves and our relationships more clearly? Could this finally be an opportunity for a sharpening of focus for our collective consciousness?
New Insights Come Slowly
New insights started to come slowly in the early days of the stay-at-home order, when some began to see the blessing of trading in hectic, nonstop lifestyles for the involuntary simplicity of having nowhere else to go. For others, the forced isolation also started to make us appreciate human contact in a way that previously seemed lost in our gradual drift to an always-on digitally connected world. We’ve started to clearly see again the need for human interaction and community.
But more consequential in 2020 has been the deep, heartfelt community response to the unjust death of George Floyd. What we have seen playing out in the streets of the Twin Cities, and around the world, has been an outpouring of grief, sorrow, anger and frustration of a people who, for 400 years, have not been clearly seen for their inherent divine embodiment, nor treated with the dignity to which everyone is entitled as children of God.
Seeing Christ in One Another
Richard Rohr’s above definition of a Christian, within the context of 400 years of racism, would suggest that we modern-day Christians are still not seeing each other with the eyes of Christ. Rather we continue to see our brothers and sisters as “other,” and certainly something other than the embodiment of Christ. We’ve also been slow to see how our lack of deeper relationships with people of color have left us blind to our systemic privilege – especially the privilege of not automatically being suspected and profiled for simply going about our daily lives.
As St. Benedict understood in defining the Rule for communities, until we can start to see the hidden Christ within ourselves and each other, it will be quite difficult to “Welcome all as Christ.” Thus, the Benedictine emphasis on community and contemplative prayer provides a way to stay connected while we continually clean the lens of our perception.
We can only pray that this year of 2020 will finally open our eyes to the inherent dignity of the Christ within ourselves and within everyone we encounter. And that our institutions and our cultural values will start to reflect that clarity of seeing.
Learn more about core Benedictine values.