Wandering In Place

By: Brian Robertson

"Man goes far away or near but God never goes far off; he is always standing close at hand, and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door..."

-Meister Eckhart


One of the most fascinating mystics in the Christian tradition is Meister Eckhart, and few have suffered for his beliefs as did this Dominican theologian from lived from 1260-1329. The Church extracted various statements from within his sermons and used them in accusing him of being a heretic, to which he replied, "I may err, but I am not a heretic, for the first has to do with the mind and the second with the will." (Eckhart will be the subject of an article in an upcoming issue of The Christian Mystics.)

We are apt to wander in our spiritual quest, to travel here or there in an effort to find something that will give us lasting peace, something will bring about a total revolution with in us in which we are finally ourselves. What else can drive the Christian mystic but this deep longing? How can the things of the world compare to that which is Eternal? It is a fact that once a person has an inkling of the kingdom-consciousness, he or she is restless and knows that there's something to find and all else pales in comparison.

But the irony is that we may wander, yes, but God and the energy of God's love is with us all the time -- in him we move and breathe and have our being. Someone once said that whoever discovered water, it probably wasn't a fish! It's the absurdity of it all -- that what a person is searching for is here all the time, like the old zen saying of "riding an ox in search of an ox."

Eckhart's point is one we're apt to forget -- when we sit in prayer or contemplation, God infuses us with the Presence. We don't have to visit the Holy Land via United Airline -- the holy land is within us. Even when we find ourselves turning toward the world, toward anger and fear, God isn't banished to some distant heaven beyond the sky. That cosmology is based on the way those in the 1st Century and earlier viewed the setup of heaven and earth. There is nowhere for God to withdraw to, as God is in all things and yet, mystically, beyond all things.

And so the conclusion is that although we may push God away by placing our human failings before us, at no time is God so distant that the Divine doesn't hear the softest calling of "Lord, Come" or "Marathana" as it was known in the early tradition.