Come homeBottom Highlights, Where's the Faith? Thursday, January 21st, 2016
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
Rev. Dan Koeshall is away. This week’s column is written by Lyn Malone, minister of congregational connection, Metropolitan Community Church San Diego
Who or what is God? Where shall we look for God’s presence? Our sages and philosophers are by no means unanimous in their response. But they seem to agree on one matter: God truly is ultimately unknowable, the Hidden One, infinite, unfathomable, indescribable. Yet, these same sages also dare to try to capture people’s experiences of God in images we know, and can comprehend.
Biblical commentaries gave us images of God weeping at the sight of Egyptians drowning; bound in chains and forced into exile. Liturgy shows us God as an immovable rock; as a shield; as the commander of a host of angels; as a shepherd. And some faiths focus upon the images of God as father and King.
I believe all of these images are metaphors or allusions … never meant to be taken literally, merely that we may imagine God, even if we cannot see God.
Imagine along with me a different image of God; I want to invite you to imagine God as a woman, a woman who is growing older. She moves more slowly now. She cannot stand erect. Her face is lined. Her voice is scratchy. Sometimes she has to strain to hear. Yet, she remembers everything.
On the anniversary of the day in which God gave us birth, God sits down at her kitchen table, opens the photo album, and begins turning the pages; and God remembers.
“There, there is the world when it was new and my children when they were young.” As she turns each page she smiles, seeing before her, like so many dolls in a department store window, all the beautiful colors of our skin, all the varied shapes and sizes of our bodies. She marvels at our accomplishments: the music we have written, the gardens we have planted, the stories we have told, the ideas we have spun.
Then there are the pages she would rather skip. Things she wishes she could forget. She sees her children spoiling the home she created for us, people putting each other in chains. She remembers seeing us racing down dangerous roads. She remembers the dreams she had for us; dreams we never fulfilled. And she remembers the names of all the children lost through war and famine, earthquake and accident, disease and suicide. And God remembers the many times she sat by a bedside weeping that she could not halt the process she herself set into motion.
God lights candles, one for each of her children, millions of candles lighting up the night making it bright as day.
God is lonely, longing for her children. Her body aches for us. God is home, turning the pages of her book. “Come home,” she wants to say to us, “Come Home.” But she won’t call for she is afraid that we will say, “No”. She can anticipate the conversation: “We are so busy. We’d love to see you but we just can’t come now. There is just too much to do.”
Even if we don’t realize it, God knows that our business is just an excuse. She knows that we avoid returning to her. It’s hard for us to face a God who disappointed our childhood expectations. She did not give us everything we wanted. She did not make us winners in battle, successful in business and invincible to pain. We don’t want her to see the disappointment in our eyes. Yet, God would have us come home anyway.
What if we did? What if we did go home and visit God? What might it be like?
Try this on for an idea. God would usher us into her kitchen, seat us at her table and pour two cups of tea. She’s been alone so long that there is much she wants to say. But we barely allow her to get a word in edgewise, for we are afraid of what she might say and we are afraid of silence. Finally she touches her finger to our lips and says, “Shh. Shh. Be still.”
Then she pushes back her chair and says, “Let me have a good look at you.” And she looks, and in a single glance, God sees us as both newly born and dying.
She sees our middle years, when our energy was unlimited. When we kept so busy, keeping care of the family and the house, cared for children, worked, and volunteered – when everyone needed us and we had no time for sleep.
And God sees us in our later years, when we no longer felt so needed; when chaos disrupts the bodily rhythms we had learned to rely upon. She sees us sleeping alone in a room which once slept two. God sees things about us we have forgotten and things we do not yet know.
When she is finished looking at us, God might say, “So tell me, how are you?” Now we are afraid to open our mouths and tell her everything she already knows: who we love; where we hurt; what we have broken or lost; what we wanted to be when we grew up.
So we change the subject. “Remember the time when …”
“Yes, I remember,” she says. Suddenly we are both talking at the same time; saying all the things that were never said.
“What about your future?” she asks us. We do not want to face our future. God hears our reluctance, and she understands.
After many hours of drinking tea, when at last there are no more words, God begins to hum. And we are transported back to a time when our fever wouldn’t break and we couldn’t sleep, exhausted from crying. She picked us up and held us close, supporting our head in the palm of her hands and walked with us. We could feel her heart beating and hear humming from her throat. Oh, that’s where we learned to wipe away the tears. It was from her we learned how to comfort a crying child, how to hold someone in pain.
Then God reaches out and touches our arm, bringing us back to the present and to the future. “You will always be my child,” she says, “but you are no longer a child. Grow old along with me … the last of life for which the first was made.”
We are growing older as God is growing older. How much like her we have become.
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