My most recent post on excerpts from the book, “The Best Things Ever Said About God,” reminded me, as I mulled subsequent comments and conversations about it over the past several days, of a little exercise we did at the semi-annual retreat of my church’s Worship Associates a few months ago. Our minister gave us five minutes to mull over this fill-in-the-blank sentence: “God is…”, and then another five minutes to write down our thoughts.
It was brief, it was largely off the top of our heads, and it was from a group of Unitarian Universalists, who have established a rather well-deserved reputation, it would seem, for their free-thinking conceptions of the divine. The result was a quite lovely and varied set of 15 brief reflections that seem worthy of sharing and pondering, particularly as a natural follow-up to the post earlier this week.
They were also anonymous, which I found added to my own ability to listen attentively without the mental picture of the writer front and center in my consciousness.
So here they are. Care to add you own fill-in sentence on “God is…” in the Comments section? Please do feel free—from one word to as many as you’d like. Just what is God to you? Nothing at all? That’s a something. Here’s what he/she/it was to my Worship Associate friends on one October morning.
God is the web of existence—all people, animals, plants, the Earth and Nature.
God is not a word that I use much because it has too many meanings for too many people, some of which may be negative or oppressive. I intuit a connective life force. If I have to give it a name then Mystery would be more resonant than God. I don’t know what it is and I am content not knowing. I experience this life force in many ways: alone in the beauty of nature, in music, in others when I experience or observe acts of love, compassion, commitment, ritual and shared reflection. It is what makes life worth living.
God is the force for good that there is in this world. That there is life at all—and that there is more than we can ever guess at—is God. Some say that diversity is a gift from God, but I think that diversity (the fact that there are SO many things) is God.
God is not a physical being but rather the ether all around us. It comforts me to think that God is all around bearing witness in good times and bad.
God is this moment, the totality of all being, the mind behind each of our minds; the spirit of creativity manifesting in an evolving creation; the order and beauty of nature; both utterly beyond personhood and able to be in relationship as a person; It is me, It is you; It is Love— complete, inclusive, endlessly generous and all-embracing love, which has room for everything “good” and everything “bad.” It is LIFE.
God is the life force within us ALL; including nature, and the universe. Everyone and everything is connected. We are one.
God is a—no “the”—Great Mystery, the origin of love, design, beauty, compassion in our Universe and beyond. God is deeply experienced in the depths of silence, the honesty of real communication, laughter, rain, and also pain. God is found in the moment of insight which is beyond my creation. God is beyond what I can define or capture, but only glimpse like a deer running into the forest.
God is a baby’s smile first thing in the morning; my mother’s love; the sound of the rain this blessed wet day. God is acceptance of our most marginal neighbors, e.g., the Redwood Gospel Mission opening its doors to the sickest, most lonely and unloved, our mentally ill, our addicts. God is love of all the good and bad parts of us, our greatest mistakes and most wonderful successes. God is patience with individuals who tax us, with societies that keep getting things wrong. God is trust that we are good, that the world is good, that there is something bigger than ourselves that holds us to that.
God is infinite energy and flow. God is infinite love and compassion. God is the eye and heart of the Cosmos, guiding us always toward knowledge of the self and the Universe, toward the knowing without knowing, toward faith that the rhythms and stories that go before and after us are all a part of the infinite whole.
God is a higher thought/knowing/depth/connective tissue running through all that we see in our world (and beyond?). It is benevolent, or at least kind. It is this depth that I reach out to when on rocky ground, and serves as a network that I access to send love and prayers and healing thoughts. God is always with us, in all.
There cannot be a name because a name is like a boundary. The Universe expands in all directions and never ends, yet we call it a name, which is then a container to put it in so that we might pass it back and forth in conversation. There cannot be a name, only a sense that exists in all of everything. I have felt a presence at times that I thought might be “God,” and it is a feeling of deep compassion and watchfulness. And I am grateful for this feeling, yet question if I have conjured this sense out of my own need, but then I realize that it is not for me to know because it is so much larger than me and not for me to define.
God is what is left when we let go of all our images of how things are and should be? What is left when we stop worrying about whether we are loved or whether we are good enough or work hard enough or have enough? What is left after all our accumulated judgments dissipate? I imagine that the divine is what is left, vibrating or humming along underneath everything.
God is the power that bestows the spark of life. Be it a human, an insect or a single-celled amoeba. It is the Spirit of Life.
Whatever God is, God is not the Word, unless the “the Word” is taken to mean the wordless word beneath, in front of, behind, around words. God is beyond all language, so the task here is inherently challenged. That said, for me God is real in the sense of my abiding creator, sustainer, and redeemer. I have in my life been too blessed—carried, I would say—by an infinite loving presence (sometimes an active presence) to at this stage, turn and say that God is “just” an idea or a reflection of something everyday and human. I take very seriously the Biblical injunction to know and love God, to be grateful to seek to grow into God’s idea of all that I should do and be.
Of all that is
All that is holy
All that is common
All that is meaningful
All that is gratitude
All that is fierce
All that is comforting
All that is rapturous
All that exists in everyday life.
A great songwriter here, never quite sure whether to fight God or the devil or invite them both in for a drink…
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Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lizhaslam/
Sunrise photo by f/orme Pet Photography, Some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alessandromusicorio/
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Hummingbird photo by Ken Bondy, Bell Canyon, California, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenbondy/