FR RICHARD ROHR’S The Naked Now is presently on my desk and is full of gems. For now, though, it’s some words from Jim Wallis’s review of the book (on the front cover) that are fresh and clear in my mind and lungs. Jim describes Fr Richard’s book as
A Deep Breath of Fresh Air
Wow! That’s succinct. That’s what the Church needs. That’s what all our faith traditions need. That’s what all humankind needs. That’s what the whole world needs. A Deep Breath of Fresh Air. And that’s exactly what we’re given, day after day. New every morning but as old as the hills. Too often, though, we fail to notice it.
We fail to notice the Deep Breath of Fresh Air that is permanently available to us because we’re always hankering after some new thing – some new form of ephemeral entertainment. What we NEED we don’t notice. We don’t take deep enough draughts of what already is – the Ancient of Days, the immortal, the invisible, the only wise, hid from our eyes.
God, the Source of all Life, breathes A Deep Breath of Fresh Air into every living thing 24/7 – and in doing so proclaims that all Adam – ‘adamah (Heb) – mud, dust or matter matters! And the Breath of Fresh Air is patently intended to be bracing and enlivening. It’s intended to be energy at large in the world. It’s intended to be clean and fresh. It’s intended to unite us and not divide us. It reminds us that not only do we share our need for it/Her/Him with every other living thing but that, further, all living things were brought to life out of the very earth that we share – and that we’ll all be returned to, all ways.
A Deep Breath of Fresh Air is the ground upon which a “holy communion” for all humankind will be built – a communion in which, as Bishop Stephen Cottrell observes – addressing one of the many areas of stale old division in the Church – there is neither male nor female, slave nor free … a communion that has its life “out there” in the world and not just in stale and stuffy old Arks, Temples and Churches.
How many times have I heard the old chestnut that it’s our task to guard the old tradition? Too many times, I think – though I value “the old tradition” with my very life and service. It’s just that I don’t think it’s all that old. I think the tradition’s still evolving, still breathing. I think that it’s the Source of Life Her/Himself that’s truly Ancient, that is truly the Tradition. I’m with Archbishop Michael Ramsey in proclaiming “We’re the early Christians!”. I’d take that further. We’re the early humans. And settling for stale old breath just won’t do – now any more than it ever did. What we need, what all humankind needs is A Deep Breath of Fresh Air. And … Yay!!! … it’s free. We already have it. Neither fund-raising, nor collection plate, nor church attendance, nor bishops male or female are required for this one. This is Grace / gratis. Free. We only need to learn to breathe deeper … until the Kingdom’s fully come.