A Wholly Loving Gaze: Questions for a Waiting Room

Finding myself in a hospital waiting room yesterday for a large chunk of the day, I was grateful to Mike Higton for these marvellous, dizzying riffs on the central question at the core of the Christian gospel:

What difference would it [make] if I . . . let myself believe that . . . I was held in a wholly loving gaze?

“What difference would it make if I believed myself subject to a gaze which saw all my surface accidents and arrangements, all my inner habits and inheritances, all my anxieties and arrogances, all my history — and yet a gaze which nevertheless loved that whole tangled bundle which makes me the self I am, with an utterly free, utterly selfless love?

What difference would it make if I let myself believe that I was held in a loving gaze that saw all the twists and distortions of my messy self, all the harm that it can do and has done, but also saw all that it could become, all that it could give to others, and all that it could receive?

And what difference would it make if I saw each face around me . . . as individually held in the same overwhelming, loving gaze?

What difference would it make if I believed each person around me to be loved with the same focus, by a love which saw each person’s unique history, unique problems, unique capacity, unique gift?

And what difference would it make if I believed that this love nevertheless made no distinctions between people more worthy and people less worthy of love, no distinctions of race, religion, age, innocence, strength, or beauty: a lavish and indiscriminate love?

. . . to believe in such a loving regard, and to let belief in it to percolate down through all the sedimented layers of my awareness, may indeed be shattering. Such unfettered acceptance is utterly disarming; to believe such good news, such a Gospel, [seems to be] very, very difficult.”

Mike Higton, pp1-2. Difficult Gospel: The Theology of Rowan Williams (lightly edited)

 Yes: you may now gaze off into space. May your contemplations be fruitful!

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