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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Curations: Thisness

I'm going to contradict myself.

That's a generally statement that is and will be true in general, but in this case I am referring to this week's curation. Because a few weeks ago I shared Billy Collins' poem "Aimless Love," about a scatter-shot kind of love. But this week, I want to share the idea of a more specific love (inspired by and drawn from today's daily email reflection from The Center for Action and Contemplation).

Thirteenth-century theologian John Duns Scotus wrote of the concept of "thisness" - loving things in and as themselves, and not for what they can do for us. Which is, of course, how God loves. Father Richard Rohr expands on that idea, to say the only way he knows how to love as God loves is to love what God loves - in the specific, concrete, and particular, and not as some abstract concept.

So, not "aimless."

As poet and author Christian Wiman shares (with my added emphasis),

If nature abhors a vacuum, Christ abhors a vagueness. If God is love, Christ is love for this one person, this one place, this one time-bound and time-ravaged self.

As an example of how we might find the joy of loving in a specific moment, you can check out one of Christian Wiman's poems about watching a flock of birds rise from the branches of a tree (below, or you can listen to the poet read it himself.)

And perhaps in finding ways to love this person or this place in this moment... in finding how to love this thing, we will find that our love is broad enough (as God's is) to encompass every thing. And maybe that is "where the joy comes in."


"From a Window," Christian Wiman

Incurable and unbelieving in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts. I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards. Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?) and though a man’s mind might endow

even a tree with some excess of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men. And that is where the joy came in.

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