I discovered Catherine Keller by reading her Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement (2015). Her writing enthralls me. As I said to my friend Karen, I have not gotten far into the book (at all) but the more I read her, “the more I grasp what she is driving at, and the more she resonates with something in me that sorely needs—is starved for—articulation.”
Of course I speak with too much certainty in my blog posts. Perhaps because I am attempting to explicate a Biblical text by being in a triangular dialogue with it, between its obscure author (who remains hidden behind what s/he has written), the chaotic intuitions of the church catholic, and myself and whatever I can muster of my own spiritual intuition. Nothing can be known outside of relation, nothing is void of boundless contexts, and so what I know, what anyone can know, is always a participation in the construction of the other and of oneself “within the mirror play of a shared context.” So we are continually creating and recreating that context by our interaction and choices, which in turn affects how and what we perceive. I think of Clare of Assisi and her language of the mirror and practice of contemplation. We create the Jesus we perceive before we perceive him, in what we perceive out of the witness’s own attempted explication of his/her perception, but this Jesus also emerges (not unchanged by our interaction) and creates/recreates/shapes us in this kind of mutual wrestling and entanglement.
Katherine says, “Faith can never mean certainty but only con-fides, faith-with, the socially explicated trust, troth, that love demands” (page 20). My eyes go to that word “troth” as in betrothal, similar to fealty, loyalty, pledged faithfulness, fidelity, to be true, from the Old English, treowth. But it especially goes there in its connection to what “love demands”: the giving of our truest and most authentic selves. This faith and our love are inseparable. It is more than the shifting sands and mirages of knowledge; it is the response of longing and desire for a Beloved who calls us forth with her own electrifying touch: we are known, and somehow know this, far more than we can ever know the beloved Other. Yet she is also giving herself in this entanglement to us. Is there not a mutual troth, and a mutual seeing in a mirror, that transforms us? We are her mirror, she is a mirror to us, and we are changed somehow in our entangled mutual immanence.
I am attempting to understand here how I read the Biblical text, how I let it read me. But my longing is for the Lady, the Holy Spirit, whom the Jesus of the fourth gospel becomes. My love, my ardent longing for him—whose face I seek—is for her who embraces me in bed, encompasses me in her presence, and enthralls me with her aroma, her taste, even as she tastes me and receives me in all my frailty and uncertainty and shame. Is not she the six-winged seraph that Francis saw impaled on the cross, transforming—for Francis—his body of humiliation and suffering into something beloved (I refer to his stigmata), a mirror as it were for the divine to behold itself?
On another subject, I was speaking to Karen and saying that “one of my great pleasures is to say the words of institution over the bread and wine, a moment when I am purely instrumental, when Jesus is the host at his own table, feeding us his own self, and I am, for that short moment, transparent. And the thought of having to step away from that for however long (as I am already doing) is painful.” Can it be that in being transparent we can be more grounded in who we really are, more opaque, as we become in that re-enactment the articulation of the immanent Spirit’s own longing?