Divine Image and Eros

Father Kenneth Tanner wrote:

Every person is made in the image of the One who made all things and so creative energy resides at the center of every person. We are made in the image of the maker to participate in begetting: to make people, places, and things. This is the sacred work of every person. Know yourself as a daughter or son of the Creator and so “bear much fruit” as an artist made in the image of The Artist. Go forth and make disciples, make a garden, make music, make peace, forge spears into pruning hooks, forge friendships, sculpt families and communities, paint a better picture of God’s good world, imagine a future blessed by sacrificial love, make things well, make things whole, make things beautiful. The kingdom of heaven is within you.

What he is describing is an aspect of what the Fathers would call eros.

It’s unfortunate that in modern English the words eros and erotic are used exclusively to describe sex. The word has a much more profound meaning: the love that longs for union, the love that, in uniting, creates and brings things to birth.

Metropolitan Hierotheos writes:

In his homilies, St John Chrysostom speaks about eros for human things, and he often compares and contrasts it with divine eros – eros for God. Divine eros is not human in origin, but divine, which is why Chrysostom speaks of a ‘wound’ of man, from God: ‘I am wounded with longing for God…’

Divine eros is not of psychological origin, nor is it to be mixed up with physical eros. It has another origin: It is an energy of the Grace of God, it is the result of the purity of man, and of God grabbing man’s nous.

There are many ways in which the eros of man for God can be expressed. One such form is longing. Man feels unbearable longing for God and wants to unite with Him.”

— More at Divine Eros According to Saint John Chrysostom

We are familiar with the healthy, blessed divine-human eros that draws a man and woman to unite and to bring forth new life: union and creation go together.

And we have at least read about the longing of the soul for God: “My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word… I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land… O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 119:81; 143:6; 63:1).

The artist or poet or musician knows this longing, too: The soul’s need to create. It is an energy of God that drives the artist. The soul who is compelled to make peace, to unite those who are divided, or to bring the mercy of God to the hungry or wounded – this person is experiencing, by grace, the divine energy of eros which seeks to unite mankind to God, and to manifest the Kingdom of God here and now.