Thursday, April 15, 2010

Divine Moments

I have spent all my adult life as a Christian religious leader. But the most divine moments of my life have not been in church. Don't get me wrong. I love church. I am in church every Sunday. I am not one who self-righteously rejects "organized religion" and says that he can worship God just as well outdoors. But the truth is ... that I can worship God just as well outdoors. Usually even better.

I love to fellowship with Christians and worship God through Scripture and song, but my most direct moments of worship have been in Nature. The most sublime moments of my life have been moments of direct awareness of God unmediated by religion. I hear God more clearly when I hear him directly, when his message is not channeled through imperfect human interpreters in pulpits. I should know, because I am one of those imperfect human interpreters.

These days all have I have to do is think about God, and I am already experiencing God. It is as if I never left - which of course I haven't. How could I? I am always here, and so is God! But I cannot seem to describe the experience.

In fact it is inaccurate to even call it experience. It is certainly not "my" experience. It is not something I possess, but that which is the subject of all possessions. The cattle on a thousand hills are his; so are a thousand experiences of the hills. It is the awareness of experience.

Some places prompt this awareness more easily than others. The mountains do it, especially the view from a mountaintop. The sound of a mountain stream does it. Lakes do it. The ocean does it. The starry heavens do it. The Grand Canyon does it.

But it does not have to be something grand. These days any sentient being can prompt this awareness of the divine. For Jesus it was the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. For me almost any wildlife in the wild will do it. It does not even have to be alive. Every inanimate object is the creation of the Divine. A wicker chair can point to the Kingdom of God.

I am not talking about thoughts or feelings. That is why I do not call it experience. But thoughts and feelings are there. I am sure you know what I am speaking about, because everyone has experienced this. It is the connection between Creation and Creator. It is wonder, joy, peace, love, joy, and awe.

It is direct apprehension of the God who stands behind the word "God." The word "God" does not describe God any more than the word "chair" describes a chair. Yet this is the best word I have in my Christian vocabulary.

Timelessness. Eternity. Beauty. Power. Grace. Glory. All words are pointers. They are no more likely to reach the Reality of which they speak than the tower of Babel is able to reach heaven. Unity beyond multiplicity ... in multiplicity. Always present. Nothing but Presence.

This is Christ who is the Eternal Word "through whom all things were made that were made." All Christian doctrines point to this Truth but cannot contain it. The Cross speaks of it. The Resurrection witnesses to it. Salvation, grace and faith reach for it. Bible stories revel in it. Yet none of these come close to containing it. He is "I am." Words seem to be getting in the way now, so I will stop writing and let you be.
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Art is "CUMULUS WONDER" by Edwin Tuts, acrylic on hardboard

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