the lovely symmetry of his theology, can be summarized in what Bonaventure named the three great truths that for him hold everything together. He summarizes all his teaching in these three movements:
Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image; our very DNA is found in God.
Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time, by reason of its “origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fulness, activity, and order.” 
Consummation: We return to the Source from which we came; the Omega is the same as the Alpha and this is God’s supreme and final victory.
What a positive, coherent, and meaning-filled world this describes! Note that Bonaventure’s theology is clearly not the later reward/punishment frame that took over when people did not experience God, but merely believed propositions. Many people today are not sure where we came from, who we are, and where we are going, and many do not even seem to care about the questions. What if we could recover a view of the world and God that was infused with Bonaventure’s teaching?
Richard Rohr Meditation: The Christian Contemplative Tradition
Serious contemplative teaching—very upfront in the desert fathers and mothers—is surely found in Celtic Christianity (outside of empire), and is continued by leaders of many monasteries, for example, by John Cassian (360–435 CE), Pseudo-Dionysius (5th–6th centuries), and Hugh of St. Victor (1096–1141) in Paris. Later mystics like Bonaventure (1221–1274), Francisco de Osuna (1497–1541), the unknown author of The Cloud of Unknowing (late 14th century), and 16th century mystics Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) and John of the Cross (1542–1591) also taught nondual consciousness.
It held on much longer in the religious orders than the ordinary local church or with the common priest or bishop—whose ministry was an occupation more than a search for God or a “school for the Lord’s service,” as St. Benedict (480–547) described. 
.. after the over-rationalization of the 17th and 18th century Enlightenment, many of us Western Christians became very defensive, wanting to prove we were smart and could win arguments with the new secularism. We imitated the rationalists while using pious Christian vocabulary. It took the form of heady Scholasticism and rote formulas in Catholicism, and led to fundamentalism and memorized Scripture verses providing their own kind of “rationalism” among many Protestants.
.. Catholic doctrines (such as transubstantiation, papal infallibility, and hierarchical authority) came to be presented in a largely academic and juridical way (or, for the sacraments, with an almost magical interpretation), as opposed to a contemplative or mystical way.
.. Thomas Merton (1915–1968) was very influential in reintroducing contemplation to the West. Now it is again taught in Christian arenas all over the world under different names.
.. contemplation is the way you know and think of yourself when you are sincerely praying and present—as opposed to thinking, arguing, or proving.
Richard Rohr Meditation: Christ Is the Template for Creation
In Bonaventure’s writings, you will find little or none of the medieval language of fire and brimstone, worthy and unworthy, sin and guilt, merit and demerit, justification and atonement, even the dualistic notions of heaven or hell, which later took over.
Bonaventure summed up his entire life’s theology in three central and sacred ideas:
- Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image, and thus our inherent identity is grounded in the life of God from the beginning (Genesis 1:26-27).
- Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example, manifestation, and illustration of God in space and time (Romans 1:20). No exceptions.
- Consummation: All returns to the Source from which it came (John 14:3). The Omega is the same as the Alpha; this is God’s supreme and final victory.
.. The Christ Mystery—the crucified and resurrected Christ—becomes the visible template for the pattern of all creation. Christ reveals the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things moving toward ever further life. The death and birth of every star and atom is this same pattern of loss and renewal, yet this pattern is invariably hidden, denied, or avoided, and therefore must be revealed by Jesus—through his passion, death, and resurrection.
.. Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He is all cosmic optimism and hope! Once we lost this kind of mysticism, Christianity became preoccupied with fear, unworthiness, and guilt much more than being included in—and delighting in—God’s positive, all-pervasive plan.
.. The problem is solved from the beginning in Franciscan theology: “Before the world was made, God chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). If more of the Church believed St. Francis and Bonaventure, they could have helped us move beyond the inherently negative notion of history being a “fall from grace.”
.. Bonaventure invited us into a positive notion of history as a slow but real emergence/evolution into ever-greater consciousness of a larger and always renewed life (“resurrection”).
A Fountain Fullness of Love
Bonaventure taught that there are three books from which we learn wisdom: The Book of Creation, The Book of Jesus and Scripture, and The Book of Experience. He also taught that there are three pairs of eyes. The first pair sees all things as a fingerprint or footprint of God (vestigia Dei), which evokes foundational respect and teachability. The second pair of eyes is the hard work of honest self-knowledge—awareness of how you are processing your reality moment by moment. This is necessary to keep your own lens clean and open, and it is the work of your entire lifetime. The third pair is the eyes of contemplation, which allow you to see things in their essence and in their core meaning. Only then can you receive the transmitted image of God on your soul.
.. Bonaventure says we must begin “at the bottom, presenting to ourselves the whole material world as a mirror through which we may pass over to God, the Supreme [Artisan].”
.. Everything comes from God, exemplifies God, and then returns to God. Bonaventure says that sums up all his teaching.