When I raced to see the Book of Kells recently in Dublin to discover the museum was closing early, a rarity, in 10 minutes, I took my chances and entered. For five minutes I was alone with the manuscript on view. A friend told me that was a gift for it’s often so crowded that you can’t get close. It was opened to the beautifully depicted John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
This scripture is pivotal for me, even before viewing the sacred manuscript artistically and painstakingly rendered by Ionian monks during the 500s. For some time, I have labored with what “Word” means in this context. I clamored for my interpretation, not the dictionary's or anyone else's. I was looking for the deep-in-my bones, soul meaning. Beyond contemporary usage, I searched for the Aramaic meaning, the language used in Jesus' time. Rabbis used the term "Memra" to mean divine wisdom, sometimes distinct from God.
Looking at it since my experience in Dublin, it is clear to me it references Christ or, more precisely, what I call the Christ Energy. Word is a mystical energy that carries God’s promise of love. That very same energy bounced off the dome of Paris’ Sacre Coeur basilica – where Jesus is depicted in white and gold, rays permeating outward – when I took an overnight pilgrimage one week after visiting the Book of Kells.
“Promise of the sacred heart: I don’t have to do anything special, but focus on God and Jesus. I [really] don’t have to do anything, God just loves me. I need to feel that in every cell." – Journal entry 12th June, 2014 during Sacre Coeur Night of Adoration
Sitting last week in on an afternoon session of QuakerSpring , the annual gathering of Friends across all branches hosted by Conservative Friends, a Dublin Friend, coincidentally, who has been living the peace testimony since the 1970s, unpacked his research into the authentic words of Quaker founder George Fox. Clearly, for this Friend, Fox, too, heartily believed Jesus is the Word, the Word we are to follow. Apparently Fox could debate and recite Scripture with the best of them, which he did. Yet he and early Friends espoused that Christ is the word of God and they would always follow Jesus even when contradicting the Old Testament. According to Charles Lamb, the Irish Friend and peace activist, Scripture included the laws and prophets until John and, after that, the kingdom had come and was "now being spoken by his son."
The thread of Christ ran through my two days at QuakerSpring, knitting in more keenly the idea implanted in me at Trinity College's Book of Kells and Sacre Coeur that Christ is present now to all. Of course I have known this intellectually, drummed into me since I was a child, and, as Fox would say, experimentally – from my own experience. This time, however, I see the implicit promise of sacred, unconditional love, even for me. I must do nothing.• Who or what does Jesus represent to me?
• What are my intellectual ideas about him?
• How have I experienced Christ?
• What has challenged me to refine my understanding?
• How do I share my experience of God's eternal love?
cutting through centuries
on a gilded page
crafted far away
yet present today
and on a ceiling,
rays that pull
me into the
orb of love
of a Quaker
the Word we
is there for
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