“For too long, we have believed that the divine is outside us. This belief has strained our longing disastrously. This is so lonely since it is human longing that makes us holy. The most beautiful thing about us is our longing; this longing is spiritual and has great depth and wisdom. If you focus your longing on a faraway divinity, you put an unfair strain on your longing. Thus it often happens that the longing reaches out towards the distant divine, but, because it over-strains itself, it bends back to become cynicism, emptiness or negativity. This can destroy your sensibility. Yet we do not need to put any strain on our longing. If we believe that the body is in the soul and the soul is divine ground, then the presence of the divine is completely here, close with us.” – John O’Donohue
All longing is by definition a desire for connection. Longing to be with the love of one’s life, longing for a clear sense of meaning and purpose, longing for one’s favorite team to win the World Cup all imply a yearning for relationship, for the connection of two things which are presently separate.
While all of these place various degrees of strain on those involved, the ultimate longing, the longing for the return of the kingdom of heaven on earth, has been the most traumatic and frustrating. Ironically, the divine is much closer than most have assumed. It is, as it was once so elegantly put, “at hand” – not far away, not in some distant future, but – at hand.
You needn’t look farther than the way the man known as Jesus was supposedly treated by the religious and secular leaders of his time to see what happens to those who dare to challenge the firmly held and fiercely protected human conviction that the divine is outside of us. In fact it was the high priest of the Jews – not some evil dictator or red-faced horned fallen angel – who, upon hearing Jesus’ assertion that the divine is inside of us, declared such talk to be blasphemy. If the record is accurate and if I am interpreting it correctly, then Jesus was killed by his peers for claiming that the divine is within us.
Why is this thought so offensive to people? Why are they so afraid of it? I suppose because if it were to be true, every power structure on earth would be threatened. And as history shows, those in power don’t like it when their power is called into question. Furthermore, it would remove the ultimate excuse for not living up to the standard of perfection. The statement (which is really an excuse clothed in false humility): “I’m only human” would be modified slightly to “I am a human being.” The simple addition of “being” would imply that at the core of every person on earth is a divine being.
Were the fact that the divine is within each one of us not only recognized, but honored, the world would become a different place within minutes. The release of power would be more significant, more far reaching than any other power man has been capable of amassing in the disconnected state. The excruciating longing in the hearts of men and women everywhere would instantly give way to deep and unremitting feeling of tranquility and assurance.