My reaction: I know exactly where he’s coming from.
The word “God” has become such a loaded term. We’ve made it that way; God hasn’t done it. And the truth is, I’ve found myself shying away from using the word at times because I’m aware it’s an immediate turnoff to some people. They have the same sort of visceral reaction that we get when we see one of those political attack ads come onto our TV set.
We want to reach for the remote and change the channel.
One of the reasons I started writing this blog is to strip away some of the crap — I looked for a fitting word that wasn’t limited to four letters, but none works as well — that we’ve attached to God. You know what I mean:
That God loves me more than you. God approves of me and those who are like me, but not you and those who are like you. God likes my religion and my way of life, but not yours. God is on my side in any disagreement. God approves of hatred and judgment and killing. God promotes crusades and inquisitions and holy wars.
So much …
There’s also the incongruous image of God that we’ve created: The white-haired, grim-faced man who lives in the sky, sees us when we’re sleeping, knows when we’re awake, reluctantly rewards us when we’re good and is always ready to dump a lump of eternally-burning coal into our stockings when we do something wrong.
God, the Supreme Ogre.
Again, so much …
God isn’t a weapon — we turn God into one. God isn’t a possession of any religion. God isn’t judgment or violence or hatred or self-importance or any of the things we like to imagine.
And here’s the really sad part in all of this: We’ve become so turned off by all the nonsense that we miss out on experiencing the one who is an intimate part of us and our lives.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite lines from Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. His masterpiece “The Prophet” covers two dozen areas of life — love, marriage, children, giving, praying, working, teaching, friendship, and so on — before finally getting around to discussing God and religion.
Why wait so long to talk about God?
“Have I spoken this day of aught else?“ is how he puts it.
God is in everything.
God is that heartbeat you feel right now. And now. And now.
God is that breath you are taking. And the next one you are about to take.
God is that thought going through your head, merging with all the other thoughts you’ve had today.
God is life.
God is that overwhelming feeling you get when you see your child emerge from the womb and take their first breath. God is that love you have for that child and the willingness to do anything to protect them.
God is the feeling you get when you look into the eyes of someone who loves you deeply. And the way you touch their cheek and love them back.
God is the tear that runs down your face when you are moved by a tender moment and an inspiring story. God is the compassion you feel when you recognize someone in need.
God is the hand that reaches out for yours when you’re sad, the arms that enfold you when you’re scared, the voice that reassures you when you’re confused, the kiss that reminds you that you are remarkable when you don’t feel that way on any given day.
God is love.
God is that sense of starting over when you bring yourself to forgive someone, they forgive you, and you embrace and get beyond the hurt.
God is forgiveness.
God is the brilliant sunrise and the color-splashed sunset. The bright red cardinal perched on your bird feeder. The breeze blowing through the trees on a sultry summer night. The cat purring on your lap.
God is the meal being shared, the dishes waiting to be washed, the smiles given and returned. And yes, even the heartbreak that is an inevitable part of loving. And the messes that are part of living.
God is in all of it. And in all of us.
God is a friend. God is a lover.
That’s what we’re missing out on.