Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 22, 1998
Sexuality bursts into full bloom
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
The Greek philosophers used to say that we are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and that this energy is the root of all love, hate, creativity, joy and sadness.
A Christian should agree with that, then add that God put that power, sexuality, within us so that, ultimately we might also create life and, like God, look upon what we have helped create, overflow with a joy that breaks the very casings of our selfishness, and say: "It is good; indeed, it is very good!"
A mature sexuality, is when a person looks at what he or she has helped create, swells in a delight that breaks the prison of his or her selfishness, and feels as God feels when God looks at creation.
How then might sexuality be defined?
Sexuality is a beautiful, good, extremely powerful, sacred energy, given us by God and experienced in every cell of our being as an irrepressible urge to overcome our incompleteness, to move towards unity and consummation with that which is beyond us. It is also the pulse to celebrate, to give and to receive delight, to find our way back to the Garden of Eden where we can be naked, shameless, and without worry and work as we make love in the moonlight.
Ultimately, though, all these hungers, in their full maturity, culminate on one thing: They want to make us co-creators with God . . . mothers and fathers, artisans and creators, big brothers and big sisters, nurses and healers, teachers and consolers, farmers and producers, administrators and community builders . . . co-responsible with God for the planet, standing with God and smiling at and blessing the world.
Given that definition, we see that sexuality in its mature bloom does not necessarily look like the love scenes (perfect bodies, perfect emotion, perfect light) in a Hollywood movie.
What does sexuality in its full bloom look like?
Sexuality is not simply about finding a lover or even finding a friend. It is about overcoming separateness by giving life and blessing it.
- When you see a young mother, so beaming with delight at her own child that, for that moment, all selfishness within her has given way to the sheer joy of seeing her child happy, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see a grandfather so proud of his grandson who has just received his diploma, that, for that moment, his spirit is only compassion, altruism and joy, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see a young man, cold and wet, but happy to have been of service, standing on a dock where he has carried the unconscious body of a child he has just saved from drowning, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see someone throw back his or her head in genuine laughter, caught off guard by the surprise of joy itself, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see an elderly nun who, never having slept with a man, been married, or given birth to a child, has through years of selfless service become a person whose very compassion gives her a mischievous smile, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see a community gathered round a grave, making peace with tragedy and consoling each other so that life can go on, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see an elderly husband and wife who after nearly half a century of marriage have made such peace with each other's humanity that now they can quietly share a bowl of soup, content just to know that the other is there, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see a Mother Teresa dress the wounds of a street-person in Calcutta or an Oscar Romero give his life in defence of the poor, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see any person - man, woman or child - who in a moment of service, affection, love, friendship, creativity, joy or compassion, is for that moment so caught up in what is beyond him or her that for that instant his or her separateness from others is overcome, you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
- When you see God, having just created the earth or just seen Jesus baptized in the Jordan River, look down on what has just happened and say, "It is good. In this I take delight!" you are seeing sexuality in its mature bloom.
Thus, in its maturity, sexuality is about giving oneself over to community, friendship, family, service, creativity, humor, delight and martyrdom so that, with God, we can help bring life into the world.