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The Oak in the Acorn
For this alone were we created to live, to be like God, for we were created in his image. –William of Saint-Thierry
I often think of a line from one of Simone Weil’s notebooks, “Nothing can have as its destination anything other than its origin.”In other words, we cannot know what we’re made for, until we know what we’re made of. Our human destiny and our human nature are bound, one to another.
For example, when you place an acorn in the palm of your hand, you’re holding an oak tree. Packed inside every one of those solid shells is a seed, and inside those seeds is the life of a tree. But we all know the acorn is no oak. For it to realize the life of a tree, for the acorn to reach its telos — its treeness — it must undergo decades of becoming.
To be, it must become.
And this was God’s plan when creating human beings — becoming.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…’”
For many, this verse is thought to speak solely of our origin, but if we look closer, we can find our origin and our destiny. Instead of melding image and likeness together, as so many do. We need to parse them, as Kallistos Ware does in his classic work, The Orthodox Way:
The image is that which man possesses from the beginning, and which enables him to set out in the first place upon the spiritual Way; the likeness is that which he hopes to attain at his journey's end.
In other words, from the image we begin, to the likeness we end. Being made in the image of God is our origin, it’s how we came out of God’s hands. Becoming the likeness of God is our destiny, it’s how we’re shaped by those very same hands.
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Weil, Simone. First and Last Notebooks: Supernatural Knowledge. United States: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2015.
Ware, Kallistos., Ware, Bishop Kallistos. The Orthodox Way. United States: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995.