kenosis: to make empty, to lay aside, cause a thing to be seen as empty or void, a self emptying
“The way of kenosis, is the revolutionary path that Jesus introduced into the consciousness of the West. Jesus’ entire life demonstrates how God loves unconditionally and selflessly. What makes this mode so interesting is that it’s almost completely spiritually counterintuitive. For the vast majority of the world’s spiritual seekers, the way to God is ‘up.' Deeply embedded in our religious and spiritual traditions—and most likely in the human collective unconscious itself—is a kind of compass that tells us that the spiritual journey is an ascent, not a descent. . . Jesus had only one 'operational mode. . . in whatever life circumstance, Jesus always responded with the same motion of self-emptying—or to put it another way, of the same motion of descent: going lower, taking the lower place, not the higher." - Cynthia Bourgeault
The journey of Lent is a pathway of descent towards a renewed way of being in the world. It is a reconstitution of life as we know it, a necessary dying that uncovers the new life that hides below the surface of our evolution. Kenosis is not just the denial of ego or the letting go of the ‘unnecessary’ but the deconstructing of a 'thinking way’ that has pervaded our consciousness from the onset of institutionalised spirituality. Humankind has been guilty of creating models of certainty around mystical matters by positing institutional religion as the primary narrator of our spiritual maturation.
We have created a hierarchical pecking order of spiritual attainment that places God above us as at the top of the tree so to speak, calling us to climb to higher consciousness. This vertical mindset has produced a kind of spiritual vertigo, disillusioning many a seeker as they became somewhat disconnected from a grounded way of being.
If down is the new up then gravity becomes the mysterious presence of the divine that magically grounds us in the will of God, the very place we find ourselves in.
Kenosis asks us to let go of our preconceived ideas, the notions of separation and detachment that keep us alienated from the divine. The real emptying that God reveals in Jesus is a departure from the distant deity mindset and an invitation into a fully human incarnation of Theosis, a discovery of what has always been hiding in our very DNA, the image bearing likeness of divinity.
Kenosis as my divine muse asks me to rethink my paradigms by letting go of my certitude in order to learn the art of trust, a renewed confidence in providence. Trust is the difficult pathway of believing in others in ways that defy the logic of my pain and disappointment. Facing my trauma and relinquishing victimisation is a lifelong challenge. I flipflop backwards and forwards on this, often afraid to admit that I have become addicted to my mistrust as a way to vent my anger and frustration with justified permission.
The Jesus narrative reminds me that kenosis is leading us to forgiveness and ultimately freedom from the need to hold things against the world around us. The last acts of release from the old me, in the words of Jesus is ‘forgive them’ and ‘I commend my spirit’ to the one who holds all of life in her hands... which is easier said than done. Then and only then will I experience a possible resurrection and ascension to eternal immortality. Even though I am a little agnostic around this big idea hopefulness restrains my skepticism.
In order to ascend to higher levels of consciousness I must follow the downward trajectory of kenosis that emblazons a path to the tomb of the dead where new life hides ushering me into a future with my ancestors.
(Christ)…who, being in very nature* God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature* of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.