In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

(John 1:1,2a)

You know you are in trouble before you get beyond the first verse of the first chapter in John’s Gospel.

John says that this “Word” that was “In the beginning” was “with God.” But then he goes on immediately in the next sentence to say that this “Word” that “was with God,” also “was God.”

We are forced at the beginning of John’s Gospel to deal with one of the central paradoxes of life and certainly of Christian faith. We experience life as both differentiation and as unity.

We know that we experience ourselves as separate. I see you and I know  you are not me. I see the creation all around me and I know that I am distinct from the rest of the material forms that I perceive with my senses.

Yet, at the same time, when I can stop and open myself fully to a more subtle awareness of the realities of life, I know that there is something that connects you and me. I know that there is a life force, an energy, a vitality that surges through all life forms.

I sense that the “logos” that brought me into existence, is also responsible for your creation and for the creation of the flowers that bloom every spring. The more aware I become of the generative, sustaining intelligent energy that resides at the core of the universe, the more I sense that I share that energy with all creation.

So, I am both separate; and yet I am one with all life forms. We dissolve either end of this conundrum at our peril.

When I lose sight of the differentiation that is a central part of my experience of life, I risk devaluing the body and losing sight of the extraordinary beauty and value of creation. The “logos” through whom all things come “into being,” is manifest in a myriad of forms. God created difference in order that we might come to learn the extraordinary richness and value of all life forms.

The tension of difference is essential to our growth and maturity as human beings. As I struggle to live in harmony with the multiplicity of life forms all around me, I learn to let go of my determination that life should operate only as I decide. I begin to discover the value of surrender and of holding my heart open to difference.

But, if I focus all my energy on the diversity of life, I will lose touch with the essential unity of life in which diversity finds its fulfillment.

John could not be more clear. Everything that exists has a common source.

All things came into being through him,

and without him not one thing came into being.

(John 1:3)

For all the diversity of form in which life is manifest, we are one.

Jesus is the icon of separation and unity. In his human form he was both one with God and at the same time was distinct from God. I know this tension in my own life and seek to live in my separate identity in the deep awareness of the true nature of my unity with God.