It’s one thing to gaze sanctimoniously over a church hymnal and speak about the reality of God, but its entirely another thing to look at pictures of flat bed trucks piled high with the mud caked, silent, naked bodies of children, and ask the question.
Where and what is God?
The God Of Falling Sparrows
Or that’s at least what the famous song purports. And for those who were affected by the estimated 300,000 deaths and continued wide spread destruction of the earthquakes that took place in Haiti earlier this year, maybe that statement is both comforting while still at times perplexing.
And we all have our shaky moments right? Some deeper and darker than others. So what about when its your life that feels like its being ravaged by a very personal, yet seemingly unnatural disaster?
How easy is it then to take comfort in the promise that there is a God, who cares with such magnitude, that even the falling sparrows do not escape notice?
The Tale Of Two Halves
If my math is correct, and its often not, I think I half believe in God.
Where is God, may not be the right question to ask for me…It’s the what question, that has begun to hold my interest. Because the half of me that believes, tends to believe in the unlocatable God(I think I made up that word). What I am saying, is in the absence of some image based idea of what God may look like, I lean towards the meaning of God. For where orphaned babies cry into an empty sky, I am forced to consider other ways to believe.
Where there is no hand from the sky to catch our falling sparrows, I must seek to better understand what righteousness truly is, and think of other ways to come to terms with the littered ground. Where there are broken bones, cracked throats that once cried, and rivers of blood beneath concrete mountains, I think twice to speak of faith, God, and answered prayers. And where I do, I speak softly, and seek to speak the knowing I possess only through deep experience. For I just don’t have it all figured out. That’s why I hash it out here.
Some reading this may have a wide range and variety of views on the subject of God. Your time tested thoughts and experiences are always welcomed here. Some of you range from versions of atheism, or agnosticism, all the way to eating crab cakes, or drinking tea with God on a daily bases. Please send in your videos please. For me…I guess the choice of not believing in any interpretation that suggest any reality of a God, or Creator, is always open to me. I can choose to see the world and observed universe, as a series of random events. And just face the gravity of those ramifications, and make the best of the years I have on earth. And in the face of the invisible, my other half sometimes toys with strains of these conclusions.
But…the thing is…there is enough mystery inside and around me to make me question. And hope. And despite the big questions that my material world demands I ask, I do believe in ideas. I do believe in some values over others. For example: doesn’t love does make more sense than hate? From a very practical everybody-gets-to-live-in-peace-and-harmony-sort-of-way. This is an unrealized utopia, but I think it is one that we all, in part, desire on some level.
And I guess in some intuitive way, I want to attribute these Utopian values to a source. A root word that is the opposite of everything we would point to as “wrong” on planet earth. It’s the light we long for when we are surrounded by the absence of light. The laughter we crave when all seems gray. When we consider our world, full with child abuse, murder, or widespread unfair treatment towards the defenseless, this is the picture that some of our dreamers, poets, and musicians attempt to paint.
And due to a Christian upbringing, I tend to hope for there to be a divine hand connected to this meaning of God. Ultimate attributes that define an objective hope that promise a day of utopia, where all the things that make our hearts smile will be realized. This hand I have not literally seen. Not with the same seeming clarity whereby I see my own hand.
But what does it mean to literally see God anyways? And is it possible that these God values and ideals were intended to exist inside of people?
The biblical narrative that I grew up with as a child, portrays this meaning, although I have never met any of its characters. And as I’ve matured in my understanding, it appears that this narrative plays with the idea of a God that means something, or stands for a certain sort of human interaction. A divine idea that can also live inside of people. A God that identifies most strongly with a set of characteristics that are the antithesis of everything that so many people, both professed secular and religious alike, on some level despise.
A God With Skin On
It used to irritate me that I couldn’t see this God that I grew up learning about. “If God is real, why not show up and prove it,” I’d think. That would be easy enough right? I still struggle with this, and I don’t fully get all aspects to this subject, but I’m at a place now, where I think the edges of who and what God is can sometimes transcend traditional religious representations. It’s a wildness that leaks right into the yearnings and desires of all people.
I am intrigued with the idea of God who describes Himself/Herself/Itself/?, in terms of a source of all that is Good, Fair, and Just..and maybe beyond. By characteristics, rather than only a locatable personification. A God that describes Itself ultimately by Love, and as vague as Spirit and wind…rather than something organized institutions can manipulate into whatever fits their ends. Ultimately as a way of being. It’s much harder to control, or box in, a relational concept of God.
But the struggle and motivation for how I am to view God, seems to be most challenged in the face of suffering.
I shared this wrestling with a family friend, and she said it sounded like this story she had heard, of a little boy who was being put to bed by his mother on a stormy night.
She kept attempting to leave the room, but he would cry out for her, insisting that she stay with him. She tried to comfort him against the howling wind, and booming echoes of thunder outside his window, with the idea that Jesus was with him, and that He cared about him.
Her sons response?
“Yes mommy I know, but I want a Jesus with skin on.”
I’ll continue to wrestle with any other supposed realities of God outside of the ultimate ideals, and character traits I’ve touched on above. But for right now, I believe in the God revealed through the love acts of real people…with skin on them. This is the only God I can see, feel, and touch. This is the only God who can, in the here and now, ease the pain of humanities trapped, bleeding, and wounded children. Or the falling sparrows for that matter.