Save your breath: Gerard Guiton’s Thought for the Week

‘We see Light not in darkness, but with the eyes of love.’

‘I learnt to rid myself of sin’s churchy shadow.’ | Photo: by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

‘Salvation’ in biblical Greek is the word we use to translate from sótéria and eiréné. The former gave rise to theologies of fall and redemption, while the latter suggests oneness, peace, quietness and rest, four aspects intrinsic to wholeness and unity in Love – for me, salvation’s true meaning.

I believe the concept of fall and redemption is retrograde. Our knowledge of the human condition is massively more advanced than it was in, say, George’s Fox’s day. Besides, these theologies of incarnation, atonement and cross had no place in Jesus’ teachings and practice, so why bother with it?

Like lots of Friends, by the time I sought membership I’d had my bellyfull of finger-wagging clerics telling me about my need to be saved. When I eventually found Friends, it was like breathing fresh air. I loved sharing silence with others of similar spiritual intent, experiencing the kindness and thoughtfulness of those around me, and the atmosphere of mutual respect, with everyone doing their best to discern what Love might be asking of them. What a great thing to carry into the coming week!

I also saw that, when following these simple practices, helping each other with a tender hand, we were trusting each other to know ourselves better, and thereby the nature of God (or Light, Consciousness), trusting each other to enhance God-Love in our own lives – trusting one another to be adults, not children, of Light.

In time, I learnt to rid myself of sin’s churchy shadow, and expunge ‘sin’ and ‘darkness’ from my daily vocabulary. This didn’t mean ignoring my wrongs and shortcomings, or the fact of evil in the world. It’s just that these are the result of our ignorance – ignorance of the Light.

In ridding ourselves of this ignorance, it’s neither wise nor healthy to punish ourselves for our personal flaws. Instead, we can gently acknowledge Omnipresence, the always-loving Spirit, by inwardly transcending. This enables us to better know our divinity, the universal I, who we actually are. We see Light not in darkness but with the eyes of love. 

Preferring the language of ignorance over sin gives us, I believe, greater space for our tolerance, for personal honesty, for forgiveness, and for efforts towards reconciliation. It is certainly less anxiety-inducing. And I suspect we’d have a more open, spirituality-mature society-at-large, one based on peace, justice and compassionate understanding, rather than on the current crude, top-down, punitive formula.

We can only do our faltering best to walk in the Light, in our efforts to be patterns and examples of Love and Truth. The honesty we seek is always in and with this ever-Presence, its salvific eiréné.

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