God is … ?

light through cloudsA friend recently asked, ‘Who – what – is God, anyway?’ The question rumbled around in my heart for days … and here is one response:

God is the life-force, the love-force, that (who) holds everything together and moves everything toward deeper and deeper relationship – relationship with God and, thus, each other.

Or, working backwards, as we often do, we seek deeper relationship with each other and, through that, a deeper relationship with God, herself. True relationship, true love, always points to and reflects God, for God is love. Thus, even feeble, faltering, messy attempts to love can be steps in the right direction.

We might as well ask, what is the universe? For, as we connect more and more of the dots, we find that they reflect a mysterious unity. This scattered, shattered beauty is being drawn together in love. It blossoms and grows where it can. It repairs and reconciles where that is needed. In the end, love triumphs by loving.

It seems so weak, sometimes, to wait on love, to yield to love, to refuse to use coercion, to leave yourself so vulnerable. In the end, it is the only thing strong enough to hold it all together. And, that is heaven: being held together in love – in God.

 

[photo by Tyler Nienhouse per cc 2.0]

the moonbeam’s box

holding a moonbeam
At the end of the day (or the beginning)
The heart of my faith rests in my heart.
It’s not the creeds or doctrines.
It’s not the smells and bells.
It is the hope (and sometimes realization)
Of the touch of the Holy on my soul.

That hope and promise of relationship,
My hope – our hope together –
Is what has held me firm,
Even as I question and struggle
With the forms and frames that have been dictated to me.
The path is not the destination.

“Spirituality is the moonbeam.
Religion is the box we try to catch it in.”
We need the box,
Else the real is too elusive for beginners.
And we are all beginners, to the end.
But the box is not a substitute for what gives life.

A God who loves me:
That is the source and joy of life.
An invitation to reciprocate that love,
(For love is full only when it is freely returned)
That is the mystery.
That holy circle of grace is all in all.

[The quotation about the moonbeam is from DR. KWEETHAI NEILL, PHD]
[Thanks to Timothy Luke Johnson for the insight that it is the experience of God, not correct doctrine, that is the abiding power of Christianity.]
[photo by Judy van der Velden per cc 2.0]

early morning stupor

cup of coffee
Slow head
Slow heart
Slow hands

I sit in a stupor on my couch
And wrap my hands around a cup of coffee
As stupor wraps my soul.

Would that I could change this dullness
Into the quiet of meditation.

I can’t conjure up mystery
But I can find my way to gratefulness.
And I slowly turn my heart to find that light.

It’s a start

 

[photo by Danila Matveev per cc 2.0]

God’s culture

seek first the kingdom - photo of woman looking upKingdom is a foreign term,
The metaphor of a different time.
It is so far removed from what I understand
That it no longer serves me well.

When I think of kingdom,
I think of coercion,
Abject subservience,
Ironclad hierarchy
Absolute, immutable rule.

What if there were a different kind of kingdom –
Hidden in plain sight, growing up among us,
Tiny, at first, like a mustard seed?
What if it were a land of healing and hope,
Where little children, and prostitutes, eagerly lead the way?

It would be an upside down land,
Where the last come first
And every lost thing is found.
Camels and riches would make it hard to enter in,
For what is truly yours is what you give away.

It would be like living in a foreign land.
I’d need to learn its culture,
Change my currency.
I’d need a whole new language.
But, somehow, I know I would be home.

Do you think I could find asylum, there?

[photo by Don McCullough per cc 2.0]

Beads on a string

beads on a stringI finger my thoughts, slowly, like beads on a string,
Turning them in my fingers, observing their texture and color.
One by one they pass through my grasp.
I can hardly tell why each one arises, nor how it morphs to the next.

Each seems so real and intricate as it sits between my fingers
But as I let it go, it turns to vapor and dissipates.
There really are no beads before or after the one I hold;
Not that I can see.

Could it be that the time I spend in my head – planning or trying to understand
May actually be frittering away the life you have opened for me
Opened – but it’s out of sight, so, out of mind.
How do loosen my internal focus, so I can grasp a broader view?

Let me learn not to worry about the last bead or the next –
To focus less on thoughts and more on moments
To trust the string of your love
And let the beads arise and fall in grace.

This is my prayer
Today and tomorrow
(If I can anticipate the next day’s bead upon the string)
Let me come to life, one bead at a time.

Amen.

[photo by Vicki C per cc 2.0]

fingers crossed

fingers crossedOn the edge of change
In the swirl of this, still new, millennium
So much is urgent and hopeful, yet full of tragedy and despair.

All the institutions of the old order,
Economics, education, religion, civics,
Seem in helpless disarray.

Yet there are sprouts of green amid the rubble.
There are prescient urgings and faithful actions
Calling a new world community to life.

What is this, emerging among us?
Could it be a new turning toward each other?
Could it be that a new world is rising, expectantly, in our midst?

So much change, yet so much deep coherence.
It reaches beneath the chaos to sing grace.
My heart is captured by this hopeful, unifying song.

Fingers crossed … I dare believe it might be true.
It certainly is true to my dearest hopes
And ushers in a belief worth believing.

[photo by Pamela Machado per cc 2.0 … Even creative commons is part of this emerging.]

Strange math

two as oneGod’s math is strange:
In an intimate partnership,
The two become one:
One in love – sharing one love.

And this strange God
Is also One, in intimate partnership
Among the three
One love inviting more into that circle

Even welcoming you and me
Into that very dance
Where the one love extends ever outward
A universe bursting out in deep relationship.

How lovely
And how strange.

[photo by Aftab Uzzaman per cc 2.0]