By Jillian Langford
Earlier this month Ilia Delio and I grabbed lunch to discuss all things Center for Christogenesis. At lunch we dreamed of the far-reaching impact of the C4C and how we can get there, together.
Although our lunch primarily focused on the mission and vision of the C4C, Ilia and I took a moment to reflect on how our relationship began. Not so long ago I was a bright-eyed graduate student in her introduction to theology class. She was one of my professors in my first year of graduate school at Villanova University. Although she was just teaching an introductory class, I had a dense theological background and I came to school with firm intentions of studying Thomas Aquinas and his theology. I had never heard of Teilhard de Chardin and I thought that I had no interest in the process theology Ilia was teaching. I wanted to know the “truth” and I was convinced that was only to be found in my extensive study of Aquinas and church history. “Truth,” after all, was something static and finding it was like climbing a mountain – I’d go up and up and up, and someday I would reach the summit. My search would be over and then I could go and take that static, unmoving truth to others. Truth was like a giant encyclopedia. Once I had it, the search was over. Boy, was I in for a surprise when I walked into Ilia’s class.
During those first weeks of class, I was simultaneously baffled and excited about the new type of theology Ilia was introducing me to. Without dismissing my preconceived notions about “truth” or making me feel like I was incorrect, Ilia challenged my views with scientific evidence, scripture, and ideas about God that allowed me to understand divinity in a way that only expanded my ideas about who and what God could be in a universe in evolution. My faith only deepened and my love for theology became more deeply instilled.
Over our lunch earlier this month, Ilia mentioned that she remembered me sitting in the front of the class, wide-eyed, with questions that certainly reflected my commitment to theology and “truth,” but also an openness to growth. While we laughed about how far along I had come from being committed to a very static notion of theology to embracing an idea of God that is constantly changing, I pondered exactly how I’d been able to come so far in my new ideas about God and reality.
In her book, Making All Things New, Ilia Delio writes about “truth in evolution.” She highlights that the knowing process “furthers evolution by uniting fragments of data or experience, creating new unities” and that “truth cannot be isolated or absolute but must be in dialogue with our experience in and of the world… Truth is always a search and a discovery.” When I met Ilia I was convinced that I was on the track to the fullness of truth simply through my previous abstract studies in theology. However, my desire to study and my openness to knowledge, along with my mentorship with Ilia, allowed me to realize that my ideas could be deepened through my interactions with the world. My life itself is an opportunity to further evolution, and commit to the creation of new unities.
Moving forward in an unfinished universe requires a radical openness in ourselves and in the systems in which we participate. I encourage all of us to take some time this month to think about which “truths” we hold in isolation or truths that we think are absolute, and to open ourselves up to the search and discovery of newness. Take a moment to read a new thinker, peruse an article on our website, or submit a question to learn something more. Together we can participate in the co-creation of this unfinished reality.
 Making All Things New, 146-147