Monday, October 4, 2010

Older Than God

I am filled with awe these days. Maybe it is colors of the autumn season, but that is not the way I usually respond to fall. I normally begin to settle into a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder this time of year. Now I am being affected positively.

Maybe it is the new grandson I have, and the joy of seeing him each day. Maybe it is the daily renewal of old friendships here in New Hampshire. Maybe it is because I have been preaching again recently.

It can’t be the spiritual reading I am doing. I have been reading books by atheists these days, but even they seem to be inspiring holy awe in me. How is that possible?

If I had to name it, I would say that I am experiencing Mystery. I am in increasing awe of the complexity and the beauty of God’s creation. There is a sacredness and holiness in life that speaks directly to my spirit. It is as if the depths of Creation speak to the depths of my soul.

I am connected in a way that cannot be denied or ignored. It is eternal and permanent. It is the Ground that underlies everything. It feels deeper and older than God.

Older than God? What am I saying? How can there be anything older than God? My Christian theology rebels at such a concept. It is impossible. There can be nothing older than God; I know that. It is just older than the human concept of God.

My soul knows that this connectedness is older than me. It is older than humankind. Billions of years before a creature known as Homo sapiens sapiens walked the earth, this Sacred Ground was. I think this was what the prophet Daniel called the Ancient of Days.

Man peered into the sacred depths and saw God. But what he looked into was older than what he saw therein. It is like the woman who saw a picture of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich. The image is in the eye of the beholder. The image of God is in the eye of the worshipper. The true God is older than the imaged God.

Seven hundred years ago Christian theologian Meister Eckhart called this the “God beyond God.” He wrote: “God is ‘No-thing’ – but rather the Being that undergirds all reality – and we must become no-thing to be one with God.”

Twenty five hundred years ago Lao Tzu said, “It is hidden but always present. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.” That sounds about right. But in the end it doesn’t matter if I understand what I am experiencing. Understanding is overrated. It is more important that I am aware … and awed.
Image is The Ancient of Days, Watercolor etching by William Blake (1794)

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