There isn't much we can SAY that will alleviate or make sense of the suffering caused by the bombings in Paris. However, I do want to contribute what I can, and make three points.
First, it is important to remember ALL of the sufferings in the world caused by hatred, animosity, war and terrorism, most of which do not get reported by the media.
Second, contemplative theologian Cynthia Bourgeault speaks of the Christian tradition of "The Harrowing of Hell" that took place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. According to this tradition, Jesus visited "hell" in order to release the souls present there. My purpose here is not to interpret this tradition - or its talk of "hell" - literally, but to learn from its spiritual meaning in the context of the current hell of this tragic terrorist event. Accordingly, in her book, "The Wisdom Jesus," Bourgeault says:
"In the Harrowing of Hell, Jesus was JUST SITTING THERE - surrounded by the darkest, deepest, most alienated, most constricted state of pained consciousness: sitting, if we can imagine it, among all those faces of the collective false self, sitting there in the midst of all this blackness, not judging, not fixing; just letting it BE in love. And in so doing, he was allowing love to go deeper, pressing all the way to the innermost ground out of which the opposites arise and holding THAT to the light. A quiet, harmonizing love was infiltrating even the deepest place of darkness and blackness, in a way that didn't override them or cancel them, but gently reconnected them to the whole, holding all things in love's embrace and in such a way that released them from the grip of duality. In that ultimate letting be, he transformed them into sacred vessels of divine love. This is the mystical meaning of the great Pauline statement (in Colossians 1:17) 'In him all things hold together.' "
Third, I find profound meaning in the following quotation from the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, written in a 1945 letter:
"You yourself are a conflict that rages in itself and against itself, in order to melt its incompatible substances in the fire of suffering, and thus create that fixed and unalterable form which is the goal of life. Everyone goes through this mill, consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or forcibly. We are CRUCIFIED BETWEEN THE OPPOSITES and delivered up to the torture until the 'reconciling third' takes shape. Do not doubt the rightness of the two sides within you, and let whatever may happen, happen . . . The apparently unendurable conflict is proof of the rightness of your life. A life without inner contradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the Beyond, which is destined only for angels. But God loves human beings more than the angels."
In the case of both of these passages, WE OURSELVES - rather than anything we might believe or say - BECOME the reconciliation of opposites (however we might define them) that MELTS the two together in the heat of both love and inner turmoil.
May each of us BECOME that reconciliation.
Photo: Greyrock, burned snag, and Pasqueflowers after the High Park Fire, Roosevelt National Forest, CO, April, 2013
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.