Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Is God?

I walked the dogs early this morning.  The steamy heat is already building in the air, a small down payment on what’s to come later today.  

So we take the shade walk, down Surrey Ct., through the wooded path to Mount Vernon.

When we get to the woods, I let the leashes out so they can run and explore.  FanCee likes to linger over each scent.  She stays close to my side.  Savoring.  Moving slowly.  

Prince covers lots of ground.  Excited nose gorging on the pungency of the cool damp earth, wet leaves, the invisible scent markers of every animal that has passed this way.  Exuberant, tail high, waving like a flag.

All of this lost on me.  A human’s sense of smell is a tiny fraction of a dog’s.  As I watch them, I can’t help but wonder, why does all this exist?   All these smells and aromas, scents and traces of things.  An abundance.  

Almost instantly, I realize that for me, it doesn't.  None of it.  These scents and smells are called into existence when the dogs sniff them.  

I'm not talking about whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one hears it.  Who cares unless the tree falls on you, and then if it's a big tree, it makes the last sound you'll ever hear.  

What I'm talking about is God.  More specifically, God's presence in the midst of it all.  Let me be even more specific.

What is God?

This morning, I understand that God is a dog's nose, close to the ground, greedily delighting in every scent treasure there to be discovered.

And God is my eyes watching with a different delight and happiness, my heart perceiving the layers of meaning, my ears suddenly aware of the cardinal's throaty song in the branches above.

God is the trees around me erupting into the heavens, leafy faces turned to the searing sun, sheltering me, the dogs, in coolness, providing shelter for the cardinal and every other bird I hear at this moment I am too ignorant to name.

Could it be as simple as this?  We are God's senses, the instruments of God's delight.  We are the means by which God experiences creation, indeed, calls creation into being.

Every living thing is God's eyes and ears.  God's taste and touch.  God's nose, low to the ground, in loving communion with the cool damp earth, taking it all in.   

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Circle Unbroken

The journal app that I use provides a writing prompt every day.

Today’s was: “Talk to yourself in your writing.

Hasn’t that been my greatest fear as a writer?  Any writer’s greatest fear?  A believer’s deepest anxiety?  A prayer’s most profound doubt?  That we actually live in an echo chamber.  The words we write reach no further than our own eyes.  The petitions we pray from the depths of our hearts land on our own deaf ears.

Isn’t this the root of the existential nightmare that reality is nothing more than my own projections, and I stand in the middle of an unbroken circle, utterly alone?  I am reduced to  inventing dialogue partners which end up being just different aspects of myself.

Today though, I was prompted to ask a different question.  Or perhaps, the next question, because all of what I wrote above is certainly true.  The question is, so what?  Why should any of that be a fear?

The most basic truth in not that we’re alone.  It’s so much bigger than that.  The most basic truth is that we’re alone, together.

Press your ear close as I address myself, because I can’t address myself without addressing you.  I can not pray my heart’s deepest desires without praying yours.  And maybe the reality is that when I write, when I pray, I’m not praying or writing to God as much as I am praying and writing through God.  And God through me.

Yes, the circle is unbroken.  It is just much bigger than I imagined.  Everything is in it, nothing is outside...both utter isolation and complete communion.  It is all here. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Trending Fear...

I had some flyers made for our “dog walkers” pet friendly worship service starting on Sunday, June 30th (7:45AM if you’re interested).  I posted them in places with a community bulletin board; supermarket, pet shop, the gym.  I always asked permission first and at each place they were fine, until they saw it was for a church.  Then, they needed to ask a supervisor. 

Now they all posted our flyers (thanks!), but their hesitancy was something to consider. 

Some will interpret that hesitancy as proof of a secular war on religion.  I think that’s baloney. In fact, that self-serving explanation is another symptom of the larger problem. 

Religion today has somehow become associated with the worst tendencies of human nature.  Intolerance  Judgmental.  Divisiveness.   

A recent Gallup Poll shows that people’s confidence in religion went from 68% in 1975 to 48% in 2013.  While their confidence in the military has gone from 58% to 76% over the same period. 

These trends indicate the high level of fear present in our society today.  When fears run high, the most regressive and reactionary voices sound the loudest.  Those voices have helped push the Christian voice in particular, far afield of what Jesus actually taught. 

Jesus teaching spoke to the best in human nature.  Jesus called us to live up to our best, not down to our worst.  We are at our best, living to our fullest, when we reflect God’s nature. 

How do we do that? Jesus didn’t teach fear.  He taught love, acceptance, forgiveness.  Compassion for the poor.  Mercy for the downtrodden. 

Jesus said, over and over again, “Fear not!”  In fact, it’s the first things the heavenly messengers declare in the Bible. 

This is what we need to hear today.