You have to be careful when talking to dead French Jesuit geologists because they might answer you.
Here’s what happened: Jim Finley says that Thomas Merton said, “With God, a little sincerity goes a long way.” My sincerity meter this week hovered in the low twenty percent range. Every prayer, even the simple “help” that Anne Lamott recommends, came out as a plea to shore up my ego. By the end of the week, I was tired of myself.
Wondering how to access even a modicum of sincerity and at the same time thinking about evolution—because, you know, those two things naturally go together like tea and crumpets—I asked Pierre Teillhard de Chardin how I might locate some sincerity. Teillhard is the French Jesuit who first imagined a Christian theology that took evolution into account. (“First” meaning “that I know of,” not “rigorously researched.”)
I was not expecting an answer, but immediately this advice popped into my thoughts: “You have to accept the beauty and love at the core of your being.”
I am pretty sure I didn’t come up with that because this has not been a beauty and love kind of week. It has been a resistance kind of week, an “I don’t want to be back at work,” “I don’t want to clean up that mess I made” kind of week. I have even been resisting my resistance. (This is an advanced technique—don’t try it at home.)
But the advice makes sense. If sincerity is “freedom from deceit” and “honesty in intention,” to quote dictionary.com, then our lives must be most sincere when moving from our true centers, our true selves to use Richard Rohr’s term, which are made in the image and likeness of God.
Truly accepting that beauty and love are at my center means at the same time recognizing that they are at the center of my fellow humans and all of creation, the ground of our being as Meister Eckhart puts it. I would say that accepting beauty and love as the true reality is my New Year’s resolution, but I expect to have it down by June and will then move onto the next great cosmic truth.