My mental image of God has evolved over the years. God is not a being we can actually see, but our minds search about for an image to cling to, to help us grasp the ungraspable.
Walking Through Rooms
In the first room, God is big and I am small.
God looks like a combination of
Moses and Father Christmas –
tall, with long flowing robes,
long white hair and beard,
a breeze continually blowing back his mane of hair,
a kindly expression,
and, if I’m not mistaken,
something a lot like the Ten Commandments in his hands.
This was a safe, strong Father-God —
giver of gifts,
keeper of secrets,
benevolent smiler-down on all my childish antics,
loving, warm, embracing.
I liked him a lot.
In the next room, I am more real
and so is God.
God became enfleshed in this room –
this is where I met Jesus.
Jesus was wonderful;
he knew just how I felt during this
tumultuous, peak-and-valley time,
and I grew to love him.
My image of Jesus was the ones from
all the children’s Bibles –
young, athletic-looking man with
long brown hair and beard,
smiling, enjoying life and people.
I loved him, sang about him,
and was grateful to him.
He was on my side.
In the next room,
it seemed God stepped back a little.
Hard not to with so many other voices
I discussed God
as you would discuss someone you liked okay
but were perfectly willing to rake over the coals,
given the right group of talkers.
It was interesting,
and it fed my intellectual curiosity,
looking at God from a distance like that,
but when I tripped and fell,
which I did a lot in this phase,
I would go running back to my God,
and he would always be there.
Despite how far afield I went in my philosophical musings,
when I turned around and started back towards God,
it never failed that he was on the front porch,
looking for me,
headed my way almost before I had decided to head his.
In the next room,
God became diffuse,
wrapped in with my first real experience
of true, selfless love.
This love dazzled like stars before my eyes,
and I couldn’t see God because I couldn’t not see God,
being so held and loved as I was by another person.
It was a season of miracles,
beginning with a walk down the aisle in a white gown,
followed by years of love and adventure,
culminating in a burst of pain and effort
and the humble receiving of a gift –
love enfleshed once more,
small dark eyes peering into mine,
love flowing through me from somewhere else,
sealing the three of us together.
The miracles continued,
interspersed by almost blank periods
of exhaustion and hard work.
God was there –
God is never far away from those with young –
but again God was mixed into the experience
of loving and being loved,
a part of the daily rhythm and heartbeat
of life with young children.
I stayed in this room for a long time,
praising God for the gifts,
beseeching God for help with the tough times.
You can’t walk far with young children clinging to your legs,
but it’s good, it’s a season,
filled with a mix of wanting freedom again
and not remembering what that freedom is like,
being so filled to overflowing
with the love and must-dos
of the present day.
As the children have begun to separate from me,
in large and small ways,
I have walked gradually into a new room,
one I did not foresee.
You kind of picture your life in a standard way –
childhood, high school, college,
a job, that special someone, offspring –
but what comes after that?
The imagination stops there.
Is there an after that?
Once you have brought new humans to near-maturity,
aren’t you all spent?
Isn’t that about it?
I mean, how old are you at that point –
close to fifty??
Who thinks past that?
Well, here I am in this new room,
and what do you know,
I am the same exact person who has been walking through all these rooms,
only now I am experienced, I have lived a bit,
and just recently, my hands are a little more free.
So here I stand, looking around.
God is here.
God was here all along, waiting for me.
Now we stand face to face.
God, as it turns out, is not just Father Moses.
God is not just a divine, sympathetic athlete.
God is not just a neutral Professor Questions.
God is not just nebulous good feelings.
I am standing now
in an empty room,
and God . . .
God is the room itself.
God is the floor I stand on.
God is the air I breathe.
God is my own heart, beating in my ears.
God is the emptiness.
God is the absence of all material things.
God is complete fullness.
I do not need to look for God anymore.
I am in God.
God is within me.
Together we breathe,
together we move,
together we endeavor
to fulfill God’s will.
This room I am now in —
this is a room I have never left.
In all the other life spaces,
I was in this room first,
but it was so close to me I couldn’t see it.
Amid the difficulties of getting older,
there sparkles this gift, this gem,
bright and captivating –
the gift of true sight,
a vision of the heart of God,
as big as all the sea,
a space without end,
closer than my own breath –
the home that can’t be left;
the Love that carries us home.