The chief commandment is the very heart of our Christian faith. We instinctively accept its authority. Our whole being have the sensation that obeying it brings peace and clarification into our lives. It cuts through the most difficult situation in life and brings us where we should be. Yet, it got so familiar to us that we no longer pay regular attention to it. We don’t use it as our regular prayer. Though, we really should! It should equal the prayer with which we are most familiar with and which we use most often, the Our Father. So today, I would like to invite us to re-engage with this wonderful resource.
Melinda Powell, in her wonderful book on dreams, recalls a dream, which can help us to see our main commandment afresh. (Quote, p.147, in The Hidden Lives of Dreams,What They Can Tell Us and How They Can Change Our World). She investigates the ‘healing presence’ of a dream. How the encounter with this mysterious Presence can bring physical and spiritual healing. She was experiencing a severe sinus infection which incapacitated her for weeks.
‘I stand in the afternoon light. A being who reminds me of the angel Gabriel from a dream I had many years before approaches me and says, “I hear you haven’t been feeling well.” As he speaks, he lifts his right forefinger and touches my sinus areas under each eye. In the dream, I instantly felt better, and I realise that when I wake up, I will begin to get well. As he turns and walks away, I cry out to him, “Can you heal my spirit?” He turns and comes up to me again. He looks at me with a great deal of love as he raises his finger to the point between my eyebrows. His fingertip seems just a hair’s breadth away from me, and I can feel its heat and power. Then suddenly he looks at me very tenderly and with deep regret slowly lowers his hand. It feels as if he suddenly got a message not to heal me this way. We look long at each other, and I realise with disappointment and resignation that whereas the healing of my body would be rapid, the healing of my spirit would take years - at least another seven years, if not longer. And then I wake up.’ Seven years later after this dream, Mrs Powell started training in to be a psychotherapist, specialised on dreams. It was then that her inner healing truly began.
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. ’Why not to look at these words of Jesus as a Commandment as a personal encounter. As the encounter with the Person of God which brings healing, growth and joy to every situation.
First of all, just like, with interpreting a dream, we have to spend time, prime time, quality time with this Healing Presence. Linking God and our neighbour though love, love produced by own free will, love created by our own self - is a stroke of genius which Jesus shared with us. (We don’t know Jesus’ prayer life, how he gained his insights. May be that the profundity of this idea, this linking the human love with divine love through our neighbour, came to him in a dream? We don’t know.)
What we know, however, is that this commandment has an unexplainable inner light. There is no external light to it, just like in Icons. No shadows appear around this teaching. Illumination, and guidance comes from the mysterious inner light, the persons of the Triune God.
Just like in a dream-analysis, ‘first let us consider how we feel in response to this commandment. Just like in human relationships, the feeling nature of presence holds the key… When two souls touch, something new comes into being in the space between them, a special healing quality of presence that feels different from the more usual exchanges with others we have in everyday life.’ This commandment, because of its roots in the Godhead, in the heart of Jesus, has a soul. As persons, and as a community, nay, as a culture, we so desperately need to experience the Main Commandment as a personal encounter. Our God is there in it, with the love and truth, He offers to us.
‘Now imagine joining [the soul of this Commandment] at their table [our altar-table]. Take a moment to consider how it feels to do so. Does the invitation cause you to feel sceptical, unsure, embarrassed, unworthy, unprepared, timid, impatient, disinterested, curious, confident, joyful, grateful, or something else altogether? Are you open to the possibility or do you contract and withdraw? It doesn’t always feel straightforward to accept an invitation like this and to relate to it in a responsive, friendly way.’ However, ‘when we are able to receive [it] with kindness, we find new life born into our daily living in unexpected ways.’ So let us be kind to God, as God is kind to us; let us be kind to this commandment. .
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..