Monday, June 14, 2010

Glimpses of God...

I have a poster, framed and hanging in my reading room, that says it all. I don't remember when or where I bought it, but I do know that once I saw it, I had to have it (an unusual experience for me). It has a large photograph of Albert Einstein and quotes his words, "I want to know God's thoughts ... the rest are details."

There is so much that I don't understand about life. I think of Moses when he encountered the burning bush - while certainly he was being called to no easy task (get Pharoah to let the people go, then lead them to the promised land), at least he had a chance to ask God a few questions. (from Exodus 3).
God: "Moses, Moses!"
Moses: "Here I am."
God: "Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father.."
God: "I have seen the miserable state of my people ... I have heard their appeal to be free ... I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them ..."
Moses then went on to ask God what his name is, to ask what to do if no one would believe him or listen to his words. He even protested that he wasn't a very good speaker so his brother was sent with him to help him. He still ended up having to face Pharoah and spend about 40 years leading a grumbling people through the desert - but at least he got to ask some questions, to learn some things about God's thoughts. It is even written in one place that God's glory passed by him and that Moses talked to God face to face.

I have so many questions for God. And I hear so many others who have questions for God. Why does an innocent child have to die from illness or accident? Why are some people born into disaster zones like Haiti while others are born into privilege and comfort? Why are people allowed to be so cruel to each other? Why do people get away with molesting, raping, beating and murdering people who have done nothing at all to deserve this? The list of why's could go on and on. We may have the opportunity to ask God questions - but we cannot tell if anyone is listening. We do not hear answers. We do not see God. How can we believe that any of this makes sense?

I want to know God's thoughts.

On more than one occasion, suffering people have related to me how they asked God for answers or for help and the answers and help never came. They could not keep believing in a God who abandoned them in their time of desperate need. Sometimes I have asked people: if God did hear you and wanted to help, how would that help come to you? Often people do not have an answer, but the continuation of their suffering is sign enough that nothing has happened. God was too busy. God might care about other people but not me. Maybe there is no God.

I do not have the answers. But on a few occasions, I have had the audacity to suggest to a person that maybe God sent me to help them. Whenever I say this, I must admit that I have inwardly cringed at the nerve I have shown - to suggest that God might send me, as though I were someone special, about to perform a miracle. But I have suggested this at times for a couple of reasons - and neither of them have anything to do with my own goodness or virtue. First of all, I suggest it because that is how God has often helped me in times of trouble - by putting someone in my path who had the willingness, caring or knowledge to help me when I felt on the verge of hopelessness. If God has helped me through others, maybe he helps others through me. A second reason that I suggest this possibility is because often, if we do ask God to help us, we have some notion (that we probably never put into words) of what that help will look like. Probably most often we anticipate that the bad feeling or bad situation will just go away, and go away fairly soon. If it doesn't, God must not be listening.

I want to know God's thoughts. I want to see God face to face.

But maybe God is here and I need to learn how to see him. Maybe his help is waiting in the next person I meet and I need to be open to the possibility. Maybe I am surrounded by God's loving help and I don't even know it. Maybe God knows of my suffering and has a plan to deliver me...

Enjoy with me part of a verse written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

“Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes -
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

Let us go looking together for signs of God. Let us open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hearts to find hope. Let us consider the ground we walk on every day to be holy, that we might catch glimpses of God in the ordinary, when and where we least expect it. 

(If you would like to see some of what I saw this spring, while walking in my neighborhood, click on the picture of the little bird. This will take you away from this site to a public Web album I created. It may take a moment to load or focus. To watch it as a slide show, click on the "slideshow" button that will appear in the upper left part of your screen. To stop the slide show, hit the escape button on your keyboard. My apologies to the true photographers - I 'm just a person who bought a camera ...)
Spring in my neighborhood...