"We are sons of earth and daughters of heaven ourselves. On us the angels of God also ascend and descend, just as they did on Jesus. If we can't put it together after centuries of reflecting on Jesus, the living icon of the same, there is little chance we will be able to see the same mystery in ourselves or honor it in others. . . 

"We are not human beings trying to become spiritual. That task has already been done for us by our initial creation as 'images of God' (Genesis 1:26). We are already spiritual beings. That is God's gift. Our desperate and needed task, the one we have not succeeded at very well after all these centuries, is how to become human! Jesus literally turns religion on its head. He is always moving down, descending into the fully human, identifying with our tragic and finite situation. We miss him entirely when we are always running up the down staircase. Our task is to follow and imitate him, not offer him incense, titles, and shrines that he never once asked for. Again, all we need to do is to take his lead. Most of the world is so tired of 'spiritual people.' We would be happy just to meet some real human beings. They always thrill the heart, just as he did. . . 

"So I cannot give up on Jesus, nor am I even tempted to. He holds it all together for me: heaven and earth, human and divine, male body and female soul, power and powerlessness, all hanging between a good and a bad thief, which are the two parts of me. Jesus, especially in the icon of the cross, is a collision of necessary opposites. He is the great bridge builder, and that great bridge has yet to be built for most people I know and most cultures I have visited.

"The authentic foundation of all true religion is the recovery of the defaced image of God inside of the human person, inside of this world, in what will always feel like the naked and empty now. This is the ladder to heaven and it is everywhere."