What is the relationship between God and creation? How do you envision the connection? How would you express this symbolically?
The way we answer these questions has a profound impact on how we understand both God and ourselves. Indeed, this is probably the most basic and important area of philosophical and theological investigation, for, depending on how one understands this, a whole range of other positions follow. It also impacts our spirituality, for how we conceive the relationship between God and creation ultimately influences how we view our connection to God. Different perspectives, here, give rise to different disciplines.
Among the philosophies of the world, we find a wide range of positions on God and creation. One extreme position is monism, which views creation to be God's "body," as it were. Obviously, this view affirms a most intimate connection between God and the creation, so much so that a creature can rightly say, "I am God," though in a limited expression, of course. A monistic perspective is common among Hindu and New Age religions.
Another extreme is deism, which draws a sharp distinction between God and creation and holds that God isn't much involved in creation. The analogy often used to describe deism is that God is like a clock-maker, who created the universe, wound it up with certain laws, then allowed it to unfold according to these laws.
Consider the spiritual implications of these two views. If you are a monist, you will embrace disciplines that emphasize letting go of false identities so you can awaken to your own innate divinity. There is no one to relate to in such a system -- no God "out there" who is an-Other with whom to relate. It's all "in here," or immanent, and your meditative approach would be to take this focus. If, on the other hand, you are a deist, then you would focus more on learning the laws of nature so that you might learn to co-operate with the order God imposed on the creation. Thus would you hope to find some degree of true identity and happiness.
The Judeo-Christian position is neither monistic nor deistic. As with monism, however, a deep intimacy between God and creation is affirmed, but a distinction is nevertheless maintained so that, like deism, a certain lawfulness to the created order is recognized.
Made, Not Begotten
The first sentence in the opening book of the Bible provides a perspective that sets the tone for the Judeo-Christian view of God and creation. There we learn that, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." From this statement we see that:
B. The universe is the consequence of a creative act of God. It is therefore contingent, or dependent upon God for its existence.
The first point rules out monistic systems of thought, but the second leaves the deistic possibility open . . . for just a little while, however. A few paragraphs later, in Genesis, we hear of God's delight in creation and God communicating with our first parents. Things eventually develop to the point that God takes the initiative in covenanting with Abraham and his ancestors. This all goes against the deistic approach in that to covenant means something similar to becoming family with each other, and the god of deism could care less about something like that.
Many centuries later, the Council of Nicea in the early 4th Century A.D. noted that the Christ was "begotten, not made," going on to say that he is "one in being with the Father." This powerful affirmation of the Incarnation of the Word is a topic we will take up in a later session. For now, we note the distinction between "begotten" and "made." A good way to explain it would be to say that parents beget children while artists make artifacts. With regard to the universe, Scripture and, later, Christian tradition affirms that the universe was made, not begotten. It is God's handiwork, or work of art, and God is very pleased with it.
When you examine a work of art, you can learn something about the artist, but only so much. So it is with the universe and God. The heavens are indeed telling the glory and majesty of God, for what a Creator God must be to have made the universe with its billions of galaxies, stars, and all the various life forms we find on our planet! Something of the qualities of creation must exist in God, or else God could not have known to make them. What a marvelous universe we find ourselves living in, and, by extension, how wonderful is our Creator!
So far, so good, and not too difficult to write about or understand, I don't think. But how do we get from a self-subsistent God to a contingent universe? If, "before the beginning," there is only God, then how does the universe come from God? We've already ruled out monism -- that God somehow takes on a physical expression. And we've also ruled out any notion of there being a kind of pre-existent, uncreated material substance that God shaped into the universe; such would not be "made," but would, in fact, share some of the divine attributes, notably eternity. So if, "before the beginning," there is only God, and there is nothing else for God to use to make the universe, then what did God make the universe with?
This might seem to be a most unusual question, but it is one that occurred to me as early as the 5th grade, when I asked my mother to explain this to me. She deferred to Sr. Concordia, who told me it was a mystery -- as indeed it is! Nevertheless . . .
There is an "official" answer to the question, of course, and it is that God created ex-nihilo, literally out of nothing. This is a rather fine example of divine omnipotence, but it doesn't really answer the question except to say that God can do what God wants to do, and this includes making something out of nothing. OK . . . great!
But let's go a little deeper into this response. What if the "nothing" God created the universe out of is taken to be no-thing, i.e., no pre-existing, eternal matter? And what if, in addition, no-thing is a way of actually referring to God, Who, as the Supreme Being, is no-thing in particular?
Words of the Word
At this point, we turn to the prologue of John's Gospel, where we learn that:
The Word, as we know, refers to the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, and what we learn, here, is that God (the Father) creates the universe through the Word. Additionally: not-one-thing (i.e. no-thing) exists but through the Word. There is the term, "nothing," again, but in a new context; now it means that "everything" has received its being through the Word. So we get from the no-thing of God to the every-thing of creation through the Word.
The term used for Word in this passage is Logos, which is Greek for speech, thought, or life principle. John uses this word intentionally to indicate a movement within the divine toward creation -- from the Father Who has the creative idea to the Logos/Word through Whom the idea is expressed and given form. And what is expressed is creation! Hence, creation can be understood to be the expression of divine ideas; it is divine-speak. This is a radically different understanding than monism and deism, but it does resonate with some aspects of both.
Consider the relationship between yourself and the words you speak. Surely, you are not those sounds, but, on the other hand, they do not exist except that you give them expression. Furthermore, they indicate an idea you are sharing, and they even communicate something of your presence. One who hears or reads your words encounters you -- not the whole of you, of course, but something of you. If it is an audible word, it vibrates to the rhythm of your speech, and communicates a wide range of verbal and non-verbal content, all of which mediate a sense of your presence. We encounter one another through our words, and form profound relationships through their mediation. All the while, however, the real person remains "other," or transcendent to the words spoken, never to be completely exhausted in being through all the words he or she could ever speak.
I think we can say something of the same is analogously true of the relationship between God and creation. God speaks the creation, and so there is a profound intimacy that exists between the two. Creation is not-God per se, but does express the divine ideas and even communicates something of the divine presence. To deeply and authentically encounter creation is to encounter the Speaker of creation through the existence invested in creatures. If we look and listen to what's going on beyond the surface of things, we will find that creation in its contingency points beyond itself to the Giver of its existence; it also reveals some aspect of the Speaker's creativity. Thus we affirm the sacramental nature of creation -- that it is a kind of window to the divine.
Something else we can affirm is how words, once spoken, take on a life of their own. We recognize this with our own speech, and how our words often produce effects that go far beyond our immediate intent. Others hear our words and are affected by them, and they pass them on, now with their own ideas, so that, after awhile, what we have said has become embellished with many other words and presences.
So it is with creation, only much more marvelously so. The words/creatures spoken by God are invested with potentialities to enable them to interact with other words/creatures, and, in the case of intelligent beings, to even choose their own manner of connecting with other creatures. We shall say more about this in our next session, but for now we note that all creatures are imbued with some degree of intelligence and freedom, as these qualities are of the essence of God's personal nature. Every creature spoken into existence by God therefore vibrates with something of divine presence, including the freedom and intelligence that make up the divine. And because the creature is indeed a new being, and not simply an extension or emanation of the divine, it is free to use its intelligence and existence as it chooses. This applies, to some extent, even to the inanimate creation, although no reflective consciousness is operative in such cases, of course.
How real the analogy?
Nice analogy, you might say, but how literally should one take this reflection on creation as divine speech?
I don't know. But given what we do know about creation from the empirical sciences -- especially physics -- I think the analogy is as good as any other. Einstein's physics taught us the connection between matter, space and energy . . . that things are not as solid as we think them to be. Quantum physics has, in addition, pointed out the manner in which consciousness affects the way we see the universe. In the end, however, scientists do not know why creation arises in the first place, nor why it has taken the form it has. So science cannot refute the analogy we have drawn above, which has both poetic and metaphysical appeal.
To view ourselves and other creatures as part of the divine symphony . . . . Can you feel the harmony? Do you know what instrument you play?
Questions and Discussion
1. What questions or comments do you have from this session?
2. How does the idea of creation as words of the Word speak to you? What are some of the implications of this perspective?
I LOVE this!! It is divine timing for the creative work I am involved in at this moment.
more later ...
This is so awesome, just awesome. I experience these words as an answer to prayer that I might come to reverence life more. The surprise for me is the shocking revelation that I am part of the divine symphony - I feel a greater respect for myself, and then, when I think of others, I also have more respect and awe.
What instrument do I play? I don't know, but to rest in that awareness. I hope this becomes a part of me, that I become less harsh and judgmental, because there is such joy in this seeing.
This may be one of those true philosopher's stones? While we may encounter endless barriers in trying to construct a formal argument, and are precluded, in principle, from conclusive empirical demonstrations, when it comes to metaphysics, still we can explore this whole range of other positions that follow.
And we can test the implications of those positions against our own experience of reality. In many cases, then, we can employ what some call the backdoor philosophy of the reductio ad absurdum argument, which is to say we can extrapolate our premises to their final logical conclusion and see if they fit with what we already know about reality from our experiences.
This isn't a fallacy-free approach, as we know, because not everything that is absurd or counterintuitive turns out to be false (like curved space and relative time). Still, evolutionary psychologists recognize that humans have a remarkably adept fast and frugal decision-making ability and many philosophers affirm the uncanny accuracy of both common sense (Reid) and human hypothesizing (or abduction, Peirce).
As regards our spirituality, I like to sometimes begin there, with my experience of God in worship and community. Then, from the positions I can affirm from such experience, I like to work backwards, which is to say, to find out what metaphysical premises would give rise to such positions. In other words, as Phil suggested, our metaphysical positions have implications for spirituality. I am suggesting that our spirituality and spiritual experiences have implications for our metaphysical positions, too.
For example, I have very much experienced suffering, my own and others'. I cannot confidently affirm any metaphysics that doesn't recognize my sin and finitude or that suggests that suffering is illusion. No asceticism, however rigorous, will ever convince me that I am divine. Long before I ever ponder a metaphysical monism, pantheistically, the whole idea seems suspect. Know what I mean?
Well, I spoke briefly to the issue about those pantheistic perspectives. Most atheists I have met are also monists: material monists, who think that everything is made of space, time, mass and energy. That's more coherent, to me, than the other perspectives. Curiously, Ayn Rand, another atheist, added another primitive along side space-time, mass-energy: consciousness. In that regard, she meets the other monists half-way. Still, in the history of humankind, not many people find a materialist monism or an idealist monism very compelling, as it leaves the question begging:Why is there something rather than nothing? or, if you don't buy that (claiming that it is tautological to take existence as a predicate of being), still:Why is there something and not rather something else? Further, if one accepts classical notions of causation --- common sense cause and effect ---, then these monisms don't grapple effectively with the issue of infinite regress, which is to say they do not account for what put everything in motion even if they invest infinity in the universe or multiverse.
And because of the question begging mentioned above, many classic philosophers, who were otherwise strongly leaning toward atheism, saw fit to embrace deism, not driven by any love for theism, but, rather, driven by a need for metaphysical coherency and logical consistency. Anyone struggling with their faith, might take heed of the metaphysical arguments of the deists. They at least open a door to faith.
And that is why I find catholicism and Catholicism so intellectually satisfying, even metaphysically (maybe especially, sometimes). It can look to the great thinkers among the Eastern traditions and affirm their insights regarding both how very close God is to creation and how certain asceticisms are most efficacious in gifting us with nondual awareness and/or okayness of/with reality. It can affirm the insights of the deists, too, insofar as the monisms just don't square with our experience of reality over against the pantheists and just evade the paradox of existence, itself, over aginst the atheists. We can affirm their respective insights and maintain a both/and tension between them.
Enter, panentheism, which is a having it both ways.
Perhaps nothing sends more people running into the deistic camp than the question of suffering, a/k/a theodicy. How can an omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God allow the enormity of human suffering, the immensity of human pain?
This is no longer a question that yields to logical arguments or mathematical formulae, but, instead, is a question of trust, which mostly plays out in the grammar, not of logic, but, of relationship.
This is not to say that the philosophers do not tackle the issue, because they do. They point out that those omni-attributes of God are analogies and that such human traits cannot be univocally predicated of God insofar as they can only be employed equivocally. Hence, the apophatic predications, what God is NOT like or what God is NOT, prevent any real logical inconsistencies.
These invocations of equivocity and analogy and metaphor generate another paradox, what some point out as a causal disjunction. It asks the question: how can something wholly other affect something else which it is supposedly totally unrelated to physically --- without violating what we call physical causal closure?
At bottom, the theological answer is that, per our definitions, nuances and predications of God, however otherwise mysterious, S/he can overcome this causal closure problem. This may be well and good, but this introduces yet another fallacy of circular referentiality, which we sometimes see as a tautology, which is a fancy word for embedding one's conclusions in one's definitions and premises.
The principle problem with some tautologies, as I see it, is that they do not give us any new information. It is not that they are necessarily untrue. Rather, they just don't formally prove anything. But, we're not just going for proof here. In fact, in principle, that is not what we are about at all.
We are going for reasonableness and coherence and consistency, for external congruence between our metaphysical models of reality, for enhanced modeling power of reality. These models will necessarily involve both the rational and the supra-rational, even the non-rational and pre-rational. Nothing wrong with that. These epistemic faculties are not individually autonomous but work holistically together, for theists, atheists and nontheists alike. In other words, that's how we all know what it is we know.
And, isn't this how we discover much of quantum physics and speculative cosmology, too. We employ analogies between those parts of reality we are most familiar with to those with which we are less familiar. And we utilize indirect evidence to see if reality is congruent with our models. Thus we slowly but inexorably advance in our grasp of reality, however otherwise fallible. Reality as a whole may be, in principle, incomprehensible, but that is NOT to say that it is not intelligible. That is a great analogy, Phil.
I think of these quotes by Haldane, Chesterton and others:
Harmony. It invokes one aspect of Beauty, which we call cosmology (same root as cosmetics).
Well, Phil, I hope I have given your presentation its "due" without over-"do"-ing it.
jbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: JB,
This squares with one of my first impressions, too. Aside from, and even over and above, all the metaphysical jargon in my other response, what this presentation evoked in me was the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, to wit: 1) To get a more real image of God. 2) To see ourselves as God sees us. 3) To be moved to repentance out of love and awe. 4) To attain to love via contemplation of these mysteries and truths.
How I made these connections I will leave to others' imaginations and prayerful consideration.
Thanks for sharing Carole. I share your sentiments.
To everyone who is listening,
There is infinite variety in Creation, and it is in that variation where each of us plays such an important part. We do align ourselves with each other in love, and we align ourselves with the SOURCE of Creation, so that we can play our part in the symphony and in the dance of life and existence.
It is perhaps one of the most beautiful adventures open to us in this life.
We do begin to see each other as expressions of God, and we meet God in each other when we come in love with our hearts open.
This is a sacramental moment. Don't lose this momentum. There is DIVINE PRESENCE in this approach. God is reaching out to each heart listening in a very personal way.
Phil has let that Divine energy come through him in his own unique way to share it with us.
We need to find the Divine receptivity to accept it.
Wow, these are great responses and most encouraging! Breaking open some of the metaphysical implications of Revelation is exciting, isn't it? The mind does have its role to play on the spiritual journey, and what we might call a "right understanding" of the way things are ordered is a vital part of that. So it's especially heartening to hear how this session has moved you (Carole, Johnboy and Naomi) to a an enthusiasm for your faith and spiritual growth.
As JB noted in his reflections, the way we understand/image the relationship between God and creation is a kind of "philosopher's stone," from which a wide range of other considerations and practices flow. It's really very difficult to "get a grip" on this if one begins outside of a religious tradition. First principles and the workings of the universe tell us much, but to really know the Artist, S/He needs to Self-disclose in some way. Of course, one must believe in the revelation, but it takes no less an act of faith to believe in alternative propositions of how God and the universe interact.
I think the image of creation as words of the Word is a tremendous gift to us. As we continue to break open this insight in future sessions, I think we'll come to even deeper appreciations of who we are and how we relate to others and the universe.
I still recall the excitement the first time I read some of the metaphysics of that great Franciscan Duns Scotus. He maintained that the Incarnation was built-in to the system from the get-go, a very telihardian thought. In other words, it was no felix culpa that brought about the Incarnation, just the (super)natural flow of things. This doesn't change the fact that the Incarnation was entirely efficacious in overcoming sin and death. It only emphasizes the intimacy of Creator with creation. And this is a very Franciscan notion.
What Francis worked out spiritually, the scotist metaphysicians amplified.
Now, this is not to suggest that any metaphysical speculation could have ever predicted the form the Incarnation would take, only that God-is-with-us would some day explode onto the scene of the cosmos in a very particular and special manifestation. (Who woulda guessed a babe in a manger, eh? Folks still have problems with THAT!)
Also, this adds an extra dimension to our knowledge of creatio ex nihilo (which is a datum of revelation, not a bit of metaphysical speculation?). Aquinas held that we could not know whether the universe was eternal or not, based on reason alone. Bonaventure maintained it could be philosophically (metaphysically) proved. Scotus agreed with Aquinas. Augustine clarifies that the universe was not made IN time but, rather, WITH time!
I suppose one lesson is that, even if the universe was eternal, it wouldn't vitiate creatio continua! This is what John of the Cross seized upon when noting that, even when in mortal sin, we are not metaphysically alienated from God. He has to hold us in existence for us to "enjoy" a breach of relationship with Her! And this is to suggest that if God ever stopped "thinking" about you, you would cease to exist, as if you NEVER had existed. Good thing She only takes this approach with our sins!
Much of this speculation amounts to a type of philosophical contemplation, toward developing an intuition of being, which is to say, we are inchoately coming into contact with the Reality that we are receiving our existence as a gift at every moment! This is the chief value of much Buddhist asceticism, which leads to a nondual awareness, a profound, ineffable, nondiscursive, direct experience of this radical receptivity of our being from its Source, and the OneNess of all naked existence. And that is the mystical experience of all of this metaphysical intuition: the mystic gets stuck at the fact of existence, on the THATNESS of it all, overcome with awe and unspeakable &*^%$#_)(*&%!!!!!!
Finally, Phil's notion of the breath and word of God squares quite nicely with Don Gelpi's characterization of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Breath and the imagery also helps my breathing meditations. Not to try too very hard to s--t---r----e----t---c---h the analogies.
Elizabeth Johnson comments on this:
but also critiques it, for those interested:
http://www.womenpriests.org/theology/johnson2.asp. Basically, she says, fine BUT do NOT take away MY shadow-side! I need it.
Thanks, jb, for this. I'm feeling less intimidated. I still don't understand much of what is being said, but I'm having a lot of fun! I appreciated the womenpriests link. Carole
OK. I am going to dive in here. How does God manifest? If how I experience God affects my life and what I believe, I need to try to express and uncover a way to that by connecting with you. Phil led the way and invited us to share our different ways of doing that.
I feel we are all a manifestation of love...flowing from an invisible Love....and we are here... to receive and share the love we are given, whether in action, in words, or in creation itself.
I am a lover of what is UNSEEN....YET UNCREATED....the shimmering, vibrating,essence of life....the energy that is the well where all lovers go to draw that oxygen they need to LIVE! I return to it again and again and again....... because it TRULY IS the Eternal Spring. It isn't really about theology at all to me. You are helping me realize that even more completely and irrevocably in our exchanges in this process.
It is almost painful to stay in the limitation of the words for me. I am not energized by the words.
I feel I am created in the REALITY that creates life....not by the words.
I want to penetrate the Silence and be born again through the Beauty I behold there....the Beauty I become....the Beauty that is so freely given. Love continues to incarnate into form simply to draw others into the Oneness of it.
No wonder God came as a baby, we are all drawn into the innocence and newness of a child in our best moments.
No one will ever lure me into being a poet, even though I write poetry. The poems are little fragments of the divine that spin off in the act of loving....traces of a love affair already in motion.
I am with the Creator of Everything in my heart!!!
I belong. I found my home. I keep trying to find the words, but the words are NEVER big enough for what I feel. There is a hush....a silent awe...a mesmerizing captivity that calls me to surrender my will, my words, my
life to a PRESENCE from which my life was formed. It is mutuality. It is
intimacy! It is Everything!
I have come into your life, and you have come into mine, for a moment...to witness to whatever God is manifesting in you....to reveal it to you as you dare to speak it into being. Love is creating my LIFE, and it hopefully might reflect moments of light and beauty and love that move my heart.
There is nothing large enough that could ever lure me away from that.....ever.
What makes you glow? It is when you open your heart, and for an instant, you let others witness LOVE, even just for a few moments.....love at its essence. I am not sure a painting or a book or a class can do that in itself. It can set up an attraction to it. It can invite others into it.
It is where Love meets Love that the alchemy begins to work.
Remember a first kiss when you let something of yourself flow into that other person? Remember a night gazing at the moon when you saw love in the moon looking back at you?
All my reading ever did was to seed my mind.
SomeONE invisible tenderly placed the seeds of spirit in my heart!!
It isn't true because scripture records it. It is only true if we say YES and it happens in us. Only Love could yield to such an irrational act.
I am an extremely private person, and this is a great risk for me to open the revelations from
my own heart. We can experience the intimacy of divine love beyond space and time and place if we only let the unknown mystery of God connect us.
Why else are we here?
Naomi, your sharing is a good example of how God has given us humans a special power to receive and transmit divine love. I'll write more about that in session four, but you've demonstrated that here.
Your simple phrase, "I belong," is such a powerful realization, isn't it? To me, it's one of the implications of this session. As a word of the Word, "I belong" to this universe with all of God's creatures. Sometimes just to sit outside and notice the world around me -- breeze, birds singing, sky color, and so forth -- and to just be open to receiving the reality confronting me . . . the sense of belonging that comes from contact with reality becomes established. There is a sense within me that it is good to be here . . . right that I exist. While this might not seem to resound with loving passion, there is a sweetness and gentleness in the heart that I believe to be an echo of the Word itself, communicating through these creatures.
Thanks for inviting more sharing, Naomi.
It's taken me two readings (well, actually three) to get the essence of what is being said here in the analogy of "God speaking creation into being". The closest I can come to it is in my experience of writing fiction, which I think is a common one for most writers and other artists. The story that comes forth from my initial intent is usually not altogether what I expected, seems to take on a life of its own and the characters and the way they interact also seem to exist independant of me -- even though I created them. Could this limited experience of "creation" be a tangible experience of God's greater creation?
Naomi, your sharing (which is indeed poetry) nicely captures the macrocosmic experience of wholeness, unity, expansion that the study of/encounter with metaphysics can ignite. It seems an experiential proof of the reality of Love that permeates the cosmos, indeed is the very energy that binds the cosmos together.
Like Phil, my experience of this expansion into the Light is accompanied by a sense of rightness about existence, mine and the world. This line captures it nicely, "there is a sweetness and gentleness in the heart that I believe to be an echo of the Word itself, communicating through these creatures." Nature is certainly God's gift to us as a healing balm from the more disturbing aspects of existence.
And there is that as well. It is possible to implode into the Darkness to the same degree that we 'explode' into the Light. There is much to be disturbed about existence -- and the Dark One can seduce us into a mental psycho-spiritual absorption with the Dark, manifested as depression and other psychotic pathologies. I am curious about his age-old conflict between Light/Dark, Life/Death, Good/Evil, as it seems to be such a tension in my own life. In terms of the macrocosm and astro-physics, there is much to be explored in such phenomena as "Black Holes", which I know little about but seem to me could be physical manifestations of this essentially spiritual conflict.
Phil, will be exploring any of these ideas in future sessions?
With care and appreciation, Joan
Thank you for the responses. I agree with your description, Phil,about those quiet moments in nature. They are precious to me.
I loved your sharing, Joan. It felt very real to me. Yes, I do think the ways we create bring us closer to God's intentions for us.
I remember a quote expressing that when we create, we draw close to God, whose very Nature is to create.
I just read about the discovery of stars near a black hole, and I keep reading that they don't just become a place that swallows everything like scientists once thought. I don't think we have touched the mystery of all the manifestations of God.
I know the polarity of all the opposites are a part of our lives, and we live in a rhythm of highs and lows, and human and divine, of light and dark. The remedy for darkness for me has always been to create...and usually to forgive, to pray for whoever, whatever has hurt me, and made me withdraw, including myself. I remember the example of depression of a bell jar enclosing us in a void, silencing everything else, closing off our connections to life. I
experienced depression after a sequence of three deaths of important people in my life,
a divorce after thirty years, and the grey days that followed the changes in my life.
If I try to find the words for when the balance changed in my life, it came when I shifted my focus to place God first in my life. The greatest commandment has always been to Love God, and it follows, to love our neighbor as ourselves. We often forget those last two words. Loving ourselves seems to be the most difficult for many. It is so easy to wait for others to give our life meaning.
To find some kind of lived reality of putting God first seems to be the constant that has moderated and balanced the highs and lows in my own life.
There is an old hymn, turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in that wonderful face,and the things of the world will go strangely dim, in the light of that glory and grace. There is great truth encoded in those lines. Where we place our attention and how we focus our consciousness feeds the ways it manifests in our lives. When I began to let myself fall in love with the infinite manifestations of God,in nature, in people, in beauty, in the wonders of life wherever I encountered it,I began to know something of the flight of the mystic.
God comes quietly to some, dramatically to others, and always suited to our natures if we recognize it.
Being honest and real in our confessions to each other opens the door a little wider to the mystery. Opening the door of our hearts in our confessions to God flings open the door of our whole beings to God's graces.
There is a moment, when we become real. I often think of Pinocchio becoming a real live boy when he was loved. So, we become our own best friend, we become our own best listener, and we dare to risk the faith to let God become our Home, the Presence that spreads a welcoming energy over our lives no matter what else is happening. When we find the manifestation of that as a constant, we can go out from there and create a life here on earth out of a different kind of energy. We have something to give others that matters, and that is PRESENCE and LOVE.
Your searching the darkness set all this in motion in me. That is part of the metaphysical reality as well.
Well, so far, this thread has stirred the most response, probably because the focus goes to the crux of how we understand ourselves in relation to God.
Joan, I'm impressed that you hung in there through three readings of this session to try to grasp the concept of God speaking creation into existence. I think the analogy of writing fiction is a good one, in that the words and story are expressed through you and from a source of creativity beyond you while, at the same time, bearing a most vital connection to your own intelligence and skill. This is a good way of understanding how the Creator expresses creation through the Word, the Word being in that middle position between the Creator and creation (just as you are between "creative promptings" and the story).
We will, in session five, reflect on the mystery of Light/Darkness, so stay tuned.
Naomi -- another post by you literally shimmering with Light! What strikes me this time is how the sufferings you've endured have palyed a role in deepening your dependence on God as the foundation of your life.
That's so very good that I'm quoting it to be sure no one misses it.
This week's lesson was so very inspiring, and the above quote is so lovely and expresses so very well what I at times experience when I am in the quiet, sitting, waiting...... Unfortunately, though, I do not have that certainty much of the time - that I belong - and I forget most of the time that is why I am here, to worship my creator, to live with that mutuality and intimacy, to share in that unending river of love I don't know, however, how to REALLY believe deeply in my heart and mind that I belong on this earth in a very physical way. The two are much too separate in my life - experiencing the divine in the quiet or in nature), and experiencing the divine in relationship to others, and in fact, to myself in a more physical reality. I guess I don't know how to explain it very well. But I desire more. Perhaps I just don't like myself very well, nor do I like expressions I "see" in the world. I crave to "see" more of the divine, more of the time. I hope I will, as I continue to "surrender".
Thanks everyone. I 'm so appreciative to be a part of this.
Carole, I wrote of the moment of deciding to put God first in my life as a catalyst for changing. There is a leap of faith that comes next, and it has to do with taking the risk of believing that God's promise is true. If we let our mind lead, we will talk ourselves out of it. If we let the divine attraction lead our own heart's desires, we find the connection between the human and the divine. It is the way our brains make connections, firing new pathways.
You can't make it happen, but you can surrender to it. The divine energy will move into your
range of seeing and feeling and knowing.
When it comes to human relationships, no matter what happens, or how they seem to fail, the key is we never stop loving. God leads us in keeping our heart open, even through the pain of rejection or loss. If we do that, we keep the flow of divine energy and don't cut off our life source by contracting and turning into ourselves away from life. God teaches us to love unconditionally. I felt such a surge of new life when I realized I can pray for the person who hurts me, or offends me, or rejects me. I can love them anyway. We choose life! The temptation is to believe we are not worthy of love. God has let us know otherwise, even in our moments of darkness.
Joy begins to become a part of our nature, and we change the alchemy, the chemistry, that has been our way of being in the world. It is meant to be God's gift to us. God's warm, intimate, loving presence is as close as your breath. God has placed it in your heart when you were created in His Image. Just open to it, and say Yes. We have to take that step of faith to see the possibility. I think that is where I found the new energy that moves my life now. I want to gather it in and lay it at your feet, and say look what is possible!
Speaking of being in the world, in the face of the floods, hurricanes, fires, mudslides, terrorists, and earthquakes, I wrote this to help me remember to search for love among the ruins. Sometimes love is clothed in divine energy, and sometimes it has a human face.
Revelations of Love
Love leads us through the turbulence,
transforming our human fears,
Love kneels beside our broken bodies
baptizing them with loving tears.
Love shelters those alone in the dark
while the earth splits beneath our feet.
Love whispers tenderly in the ears
of so many children in the street.
Love and love alone will give us hope
when we listen to the moaning cries.
Love covers bleeding skin with kisses
and forgives us for the lies.
Love holds our hand when we are lost
And leads us through the night.
Love fills our minds and hearts
with its precious sacred light.
Love will draw us into heaven’s arms
and will comfort all the blind.
Love will weave a golden shroud
around all we leave behind.
Love will yield its holy presence
in the dream and gift of flight.
Love will heal our hurting hearts
and give us rest tonight.
Thanks, Naomi, and for your poem as well. Shortly after I wrote my last post I remembered a time when a movement of God took me toward a huge vast river of love as in a waterfall and as I was moved closer to it I became awesomely aware of the sacrifical nature of that love and I wept......
Thing is, I don't have a lot of sacrifical in me. I'm so very "full of myself". I suppose it is sacrificial to choose love and forgiveness, when hatred and revenge is so tempting, but we all know what that does to us, that it is not to our advantage........I feel stuck in my human condition, unable to reach that maximum place Phil speaks of to that might take me to another realm....but I'll stop whineing (spelling?) and ask for mercy and carry on, stumbling, loving, screwing up........searching for my Lover......craving more....receiving, letting go..
I'm taking such a risk, sharing this....I fear I appear a fool! oh, well, it's good for me!
Dear Carole, there's nothing nicer than the "Holy Fool"! Don't be ashamed of it -- "unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Your quote: "Unfortunately, though, I do not have that certainty much of the time - that I belong - and I forget most of the time that is why I am here, to worship my creator, to live with that mutuality and intimacy, to share in that unending river of love I don't know, however, how to REALLY believe deeply in my heart and mind that I belong on this earth in a very physical way." What an inspiring admission this is! I could have written it myself, as it is a central part of my life experience as well. How hard it is to feel as though we belong -- even when our spiritual understandings keep drawing us back to God's love. Like you, I struggle with being in a physical form, with not liking what I see in myself, in others and the general shenanigans that takes place on this planet. I feel suspended, as though, like you, I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for something to happen, for some purpose to my life (or life in general) to be revealed.
Naomi's comments about surrendering are apt here. But what a hard thing to do! Difficult to allow ourselves to play the "Holy Fool" or the misfit or the basket case, or whatever our fears might suggest will manifest if we run the risk of "letting go". I'm sure we've all had experiences of the fruits of an act of surrender -- that there God is surely to be found. But I keep coming back to my perceived safety zone -- holding on, thinking I can/must/need to manage my life and orchestrate what happens. A hard, hard lesson to learn. But, as Naomi so beautifully articulates, the rewards are worth it.
Go well, Joan
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