… the real revolution, the movement beyond either/or to both/and. God and evolution are inviting us toward a relational wholeness that is a synergy and a life energy higher than either one apart but even larger than both together.
Decades ago, Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) intuited where this evolution is headed. Husband and wife team Louis Savary and Patricia Berne translate Teilhard’s often complex, abstract ideas into words we might understand and to which we may relate:
Teilhard, studying the human race over many thousands of years, realized that humanity was indeed learning to evolve in love. And once enough people began living with agape love, it would create a revolution like no other revolution. In time, such all-embracing love would bring about true freedom, true peace, and true harmony on Earth. . . .
Two things happen in any loving relationship. First, a new being—the relationship—is born with its own unique potentials and purpose. Second, the relationship—this new being—enhances and develops the individuals within it, each with their own unique potentials and purpose. Both effects, when recognized and developed, foster evolution. . . .
St. Thomas Aquinas was onto something important in the twelfth century when he wrote, in Latin, Relatio realis est. In English, this means something like “A relationship is something real.” If something is real, it means that it exists and can have an effect on other things, an effect that individual elements of the relationship by themselves might not be able to have. This is true of relationships on all levels of existence.
Among human beings, it is easy to see that a relationship has a life of its own and can have an effect on things—both on the individuals that make up the relationship and on things outside the relationship. Think of what close-knit groups of people can accomplish, for example, sports teams, research teams, ministry groups, and certain famous families. . . .
[In] Teilhard’s approach, when two people come together in a caring and productive way, not only are the two relating people enhanced and their capacities developed by their interaction, but their union, or relationship, becomes itself a Third Self [which] Teilhard calls . . . “a psychic unity” or “higher soul” or “higher center.” . . . The Third-Self relationship is capable of accomplishing more than either [of the members] alone.
Louis Savary and Patricia Berne, Teilhard de Chardin on Love: Evolving Human Relationships (Paulist Press: 2017), 7, 39-40, 44-45.
Cynthia Bourgeault’s homily at her daughter’s wedding in, Love Is Stronger than Death (Monkfish Book Publishing: 2014, 2007, 1999, 1997), 171-174.
It’s easy to look at marriage as the culmination of love—the end point of the journey that begins with “falling in love.” . . . [But] marriage is not the culmination of love, but only the beginning.
Love remains and deepens, but its form changes. Or, more accurately, it renews itself in a different way. Less and less does it draw its waters from the old springs of romance, and you should not worry if over time these dimensions fade or are seen less frequently. More and more, love draws its replenishment from love itself: from the practice of conscious love, expressed in your mutual servanthood to one another. . . .
It will transform your lives and through its power in your own lives will reach out to touch the world. . . . But how to stay in touch with that power? At those times when stress mounts and romance seems far away, how do you practice that conscious love that will renew itself and renew your relationship? . . .
Here is the one [practice] that works for me . . . :
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
“Love bears all things.” This does not mean a dreary sort of putting-up-with or victimization. There are two meanings of the word bear, and they both apply. The first means “to hold up, to sustain”—like a bearing wall, which carries the weight of the house. . . . To bear [also] means “to give birth, to be fruitful.” So love is that which in any situation is the most life-giving and fruitful.
“Love believes all things.”. . . . [This] does not mean to be gullible, to refuse to face up to the truth. Rather, it means that in every possible circumstance of life, there is . . . a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to higher faith and love, to a higher and more fruitful outcome. To “believe all things” means always to orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization.
“Love hopes all things.”. . . In the practice of conscious love you begin to discover . . . a hope that is related not to outcome but to a wellspring . . . a source of strength that wells up from deep within you independent of all outcomes. . . . It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present to that “highest possible outcome” that can be believed and aspired to.
Finally, “love endures all things.” . . . Everything that is tough and brittle shatters; everything that is cynical rots. The only way to endure is to forgive, over and over, to give back that openness and possibility for new beginning which is the very essence of love itself. And in such a way love comes full circle and can fully “sustain and make fruitful,” and the cycle begins again, at a deeper place. And conscious love deepens and becomes more and more rooted.