From image to likeness

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Created in the image of God, we are all God-centred not self-centred, if confusion does not intrude to make us self-centred, separating us from God.  Saints are created anew in graced likeness as well as the image of God, because they are gloriously aware of God present in the midst, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of God.  Saints become like God because God is wisdom in their midst ascribing all glory to God.  The word ‘Orthodox’ means simply ‘right-glorification’ of God in the midst, although it does not of course necessarily mean that all ‘orthodox’ actually rightly glorify God in the midst.  If there is separation that falls short of glory, we are actually self-centred, usurping God at centre.  The inescapable conclusion is that wisdom’s love of glory lies at the heart of all genuine Orthodox Christian tradition, that glory transfigures saints whenever wisdom turns and sees.  The function of elders like Saint Sophrony the Hesychast is to hand on the tradition of the Name which transforms self-centred self-obsession into God-centred glorification of God, completing the image of God with translucent likeness.  The function of wisdom is to awaken the eye of the heart to glory, glory which right glorifies God in the midst, glorifying God in his saints. 

Awakening is truly glorious but the Name ‘I AM’ is humble, and the awareness of presence is quite ordinary and the presence of awareness is nothing special.  Wisdom beholds God present in the midst in God’s Name ‘I AM,’ light of awareness embracing glory, glory of presence aware as wisdom.  For it is God who beholds God through God, here, Holy Trinity unfolding mysteries of glory in the midst.  It is not some special personal achievement, nor is it something to which pride can lay claim.  Awareness of presence just is what it is, and presence of awareness is what it always was, uncreated ‘I AM,’ who is, who was and who is glory to come.  There is nothing here for pride to get hold of, nothing that vainglory can grasp or call its own.  God’s Name reveals God but is so humble, nearer than near, that it is habitually overlooked.  Of course, saints do not flaunt visible halos but the Holy Name is hallowed in them, so that in them image matures into likeness.  Seers do not wear their awakened hearts on their sleeve, but the Kingdom comes when God’s Name is hallowed, completing image with ineffable likeness.  Glory of presence glorifies the saints, light reflecting glory, glory awakening light.  Icons gracefully express these mysteries with golden halos and shimmering robes.  Holy Scripture speaks of hallowing crowns.  But real spiritual crowning is hidden with Christ in God, except to the open eye of the heart.  Awakening is quite ordinary.  Even wisdom conceals what she reveals.  Glory hides with Christ in the Spirit, safe from the objectifying stare of curious scrutiny.  

Wisdom is God seeing God in God, Holy Trinity at work as uncreated energy of glory.  The Name is God sharing God through God, unveiling glory in the ineffable heart of things.  So when Scripture says no-one has ever seen God, it is in fact telling the truth, because God is never an object of reifying experience.  Instead, God unveils God when wisdom beholds glory, wisdom aware of presence, glory awakening awareness.  Revelation occurs when God unveils God’s Name.  Glorification happens when the Name unveils God to God in the Holy of Holies of the heart.  The oblivious mind turns and descends into the awakened heart, opening awareness to God’s presence and presence to God’s awareness.  This is the union of wisdom and glory which ineffably illumines the heart, unveiling communion of wisdom and glory everywhere.  A divine dance of self-emptying love reveals triune co-inherence wherever we turn.  ‘I AM’ empties us of confusion, restoring union without division.  Dualistic extremism separates by degenerating difference into division as well as union into confusion, denying God at centre in the midst.  By curing confusion and healing division, Holy Trinity transforms diseased monism into union and deluded dualism into communion, releasing all kinds of unhealthy extremism.  A wisdom embrace of wholesome wholeness secures union in sound communion and cures division with healthy difference, because wisdom consummates the image of glory with likeness.  Wisdom contrasts knowing face to face with knowing in part, because the image alone is not yet likeness.  Purification turns to see, seeing as in a mirror the image of glory.  Illumination reflects glory in part whereas glorification completes image with likeness, increasing glory with glory without end.