The month of June is quickly moving toward July, and before time escapes the velocity of light, I want to take a moment to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Isabelle Robinson, who will be leaving the Center at the end of the month. Isabelle has been the Communications Manager for the last four years and has done a wonderful job of keeping the Center in the public eye. Artistic, innovative, creative and contemplative, Isabelle has never failed to bring a sense of color, beauty and depth to the many images and words she used to convey the Center’s Teilhardian vision. A graduate of the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and a seasoned practitioner of centering prayer, Isabelle draws her inspiration from an infinite wellspring of divine love deep within her. She expresses her creative talents in simple words and reflective images. In her own way, she has helped the Center evolve both its mission and vision. For example, Isabelle saw the need to integrate the website’s materials and successfully launched the Christophany groups; and it was Isabelle who suggested that short weekly reflections, which now circulate as “The Heart of Matter,” could be helpful to promote new insights. For Isabelle, knowledge of the mind must flow into the heart in such a way that what is known must ultimately lead to what is loved. What we are shapes how we love, and how we love shapes what we become. She has constantly reminded us that practice deepens presence, and presence deepens creative unity.
Love is the core energy of the universe, Teilhard wrote, not the sentimentality of feeling, but the overflow of energy that pulls the heart into creativity and union. The more one exists in love, the more one acts from a center of love. To “ex-ist” is to be present in a way that being flows forth toward more being, the overflow of being toward what is not yet. Beatrice Bruteau called this dynamic being, “spondic” energy, a spontaneous aliveness, from the Greek word which means “libation.”[i] One who lives with spondic energy lives as interbeing reality, which I would express this way: “I do not exist in order that I may possess; rather, I exist in order that I may give of myself, for it is giving that I am myself.” This self-gift of personhood arises out of a deep center within, where humanity is held by divinity in utter silence and freedom. Spondic energy is an outpouring that is an act of reverence and worship. We experience it as a projection of personal, spiritual, self-existent energy towards and into other persons, and even towards the intrapersonal universe. To love another, Bruteau states, is a creative act.[ii] We love another not as a static being but as the other is, on the point of coming into existence. The act of living, therefore, is on the interface between the present and the future, not between the present and the past. The person to whom our agapic love, our spondic energy, is directed, is the person who is coming into existence, who stands on the horizon of the future.[iii]
These insights of Beatrice Bruteau remind me of Isabelle. Her emphasis on contemplative practice corresponds to Teilhard’s notion of “seeing,” in so far as what we are is always on the cusp of becoming a new creation. In Teilhard’s vision, to be a person is an ongoing creative act of engagement, open to the future; becoming in love requires an open mind standing in the heart, touching all reality in every moment of experience. Thanks to Isabelle, we have begun to consider practices that can open us up to the emergence of personhood. I am also happy to announce that Kate Kristiansen will assume the position as Communications and Marketing Manager at the Center and am confident that Kate will continue to help expand the vision.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Martha Johnston who has stepped down from the Board of Trustees after five years of service. During her tenure as a board member, Martha was a generous benefactor and supporter of the Center in many ways, and we are very grateful for her time, talent, and dedication to helping the Center grow and evolve its mission.
The many hours Martha spent in securing website domains, locating grants for the Center, developing donor relations and, more recently, attending numerous meetings to select a reliable CRM (customer relationship management) service are inestimable. We are forever grateful for all she has graciously shared.
Thank you, Isabelle and Martha, for all your contributions to our Center’s evolving vision of science, religion and the unity of love. We will miss you in many ways and pray that one day we will all join together in the exuberance of divine love, the unspeakable joy of God’s ecstasy.
[i] Bruteau, “Persons in Communion,” in The Grand Option, 52.
[ii] Bruteau deep insights on evolutionary personhood flow from her profound insights on the God-world relationship. In her essay on “Trinitarian Personhood (in The Grand Option) she writes that “our ‘I,’ our personhood, is not a product of God’s action, something left over after the action has ceased. Rather it is God’s action in the very actuality of acting. ‘We’ are not a thing but an activity. This is why God’s activity of ecstatically moving out to us is an act of coinciding with our activity, just as our union with God will be our ecstatically moving out to God as an act of coinciding with God’s activity. . . .This activity which we are and which God is, is the act of creative freedom, of initiative, of self-originated self-giving” (p. 75).
[iii] Bruteau, “The Living One,” 137.