The forecast for my week in Sitka was for fair, Sunny weather and it arrived big time this morning, the first sign Mt. Edgecumbe, its brown-green mantle bathed in sunshine while the rest of the area was still in the shadows. By lunchtime it was warm enough to remove my light fleece shirt. As I made my way to the Hames Center way to work out on the machines, I noted that the sidewalks were crowded which meant another cruise ship had landed, The local newspaper has taken on the task of announcing the arrival times, I suppose, so the natives can plan their shopping or other in-town appointments and the retailers, and especially the restaurant owners, can be prepared, The outdoor deck at the Westmark Hotel was loaded with customers. The workout, by the way, was good. Giving attention to both upper body and lower body strengthening on what are relatively new machines was something I need. It enlivened me. I want to do this for the remaining days I’m in Sitka.
My reading for the morning took me deeper into the notion of Jesus’s dual nature as fully human-fully divine which unfortunately has led most of us in the churches of today to think mistakenly that Jesus is divine and we are human, that Jesus was God from the beginning. Modern scholarship is pointing to another view which gives much more credence to unity and synthesis instead of duality and distinction.. The decision by the bishops at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE was not the last word. The Eastern churches, some of them, at least, held out for a synthesis, where in Jesus, matter and spirit became one and were never intended to be otherwise. Cynthia Bourgeault picks up on this notion in laying the groundwork for the sexual union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, in her mind a clear probability. Calling on other authorities, she argues that a sacred union between any man and woman is feasible or at least possible because erotic love combined with kenosis or self-giving love can result in Agape love, the ultimate love between a man and woman. As she remarks at one point …the great secret of erotic love – which all lovers instinctively know and I believe Jesus knew – is that Agape is in essence transfigured desire, To me this is a refreshing view, one much needed to counter the long-standing view that erotic love, romantic or sexual passion for the other, is impure by its very nature and has no place in God’s bedroom. She even has a mathematical formula for it: A = E + K (Agape love equals Eros plus Kenosis).
There is nothing simple or automatic about the equation however since the author is well aware of the “shadow work” required of both partners to achieve oneness or unity implied in Agape love. As she writes, …true beloveds do not live in peace and acquiescence. They fight and struggle with one another (but) there is not the usual defendedness and posturing of egoic warfare but an electrifying sense of something breaking free. Prison walls come tumbling down and inner chains in which each of the pair had long been held captive begin to loosen….With honesty, trust, a huge amount of inner witnessing, and the mysterious alchemy of love itself, the two beloveds may finally set each other free. (p. 122).
There is nothing in me that is going to argue with the author’s statement quoted above. “Defensiveness” and the “ego” are two strong, identifiable forces that hamper any worthwhile change and have to be faced and dealt with. It’s always helpful to be aware of that. The only other thing I would add is that the “mysterious alchemy of love itself” is a genuine power, able to overcome any obstacle that keeps the beloveds apart. When erotic passion is in service to this love, I have no trouble seeing the possibility of transfiguring or sacred union.