Editor’s Note: DC Service Corps volunteer, Kevin Ruano, reflects on what it looks like to turn to Christ as a lover while embracing the mysteries of God’s pursuit.
Some days ago, as I discussed with my community mates some of the various outlooks on prayer experiences found in the Church, someone shared a perspective on the Franciscan prayer experience which confirmed to me that I have made a home in the right place. According to what my community mate shared, Franciscans just need to fall in love to pray.
In considering this claim, I found it so beautiful that our community provides ample evidence to support its truth. Everyone in my community at Casa San Salvador is learning to love God and to accompany others on their journeys to love God. Exploring tools such as “Jesus dates,” a prayer method suggested by a community mate who develops a stronger relationship to God through periods of times in which she treats Jesus as a lover, interests everyone. I believe this is because the Franciscan spirit permeates throughout Casa San Salvador.
We are all learning Love. I am, too, as the only person in the community who identifies as a man and as just another individual growing always to embrace the strangeness of Christ as their lover.
Falling in love with Christ, for me, is an exercise of yielding to the unknowns of loving someone without a face. Some of the questions I constantly reflected on as I started to embrace getting to know Christ as my lover were: What exactly was I to fall in love with if the Christ mystery encourages me to seek, find, and love God in all things? Would notions of gender become a barrier to accepting Christ as my bridegroom? Would people disparage my developing prayer practice because of its queering potential?
Despite these questions, I began to recognize Christ as my lover in the presence of the Eucharistic body, and I slowly opened my whole body to the fullness of that mystery at many times of the day: on morning walks to the bus stop; while sleeping on the bus, running on the treadmill, or lifting weights; when talking with my coworkers in the FMS office or visitors at Casa San Salvador; while spending time with my mom, sister, and friends. Humanly defined lines which mark my identity in this world blurred with every single encounter I had with Christ’s expansive body. The world and my engagement with it began to overflow with a profound intensity and thrilling peace.
In my highest periods, I began to attend to all the beauty Christ offered me. I listened to it and let myself be taken by it. Love slowly transformed my understanding of the ordinary. Embracing the process of getting to know Christ as my lover became how I reminded myself to practice contemplation, thanksgiving, and active surrender of myself to simple and uncanny beauty.
My old reservations–like thinking that I would make people uncomfortable or that I needed to fit gender as I experienced prayer–turned out to be inconsequential. Like Mary Oliver, I desired and became “a bride married to amazement” and “the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” I embraced getting to know Christ as my lover and rejoiced in every moment of its strangeness, in its revolutionary possibility to make life on Earth new.
Reflection Question: What small step can you take in your prayer life to grow deeper in relationship with Christ?