The shift

Weeds creeping up between the paving slabsI keep returning to The Blessing that was given to me a couple of years ago. I see it as is a tectonic shift in image and attitude: from a god that is demanding, jealous, that needs to be appeased, to which we have to prove ourselves; to God whose Body is this world (and each creature in it), who made us to be free to enjoy the pleasure of simply being alive, the God whose quality is overwhelming generosity.

There is a lot wrong in the world. Inequality, poverty, epidemic, oppression, domination, violence, war, famine, environmental devastation, species extinction. These are frequently fatal to individuals, and may be fatal to many species including our own. These are all of our own making. Greed and lust for power are too seductive to give up.

This has nothing to do with God.

I see more clearly that the attitudinal shift offered to me is from fear to love: from fear of dire consequences from a god that demands compliance, to love of God from whom we come, from whose Body we are made, and in Whom we abide, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat.

The rejection or death of a god does not lead to atheism. This is a basic mistake we sometimes make. But no scientist who found flaws in her beloved and much-worked-on theory of how the world works would conclude that the world doesn’t really exist after all. No. She picks herself up and takes a closer look.

Some of the gods we have worshiped have been found to be punitive, oppressive, tyrannous, death-dealing, uncaring and dismissive absentee landlords. (The technical word is ‘idols’.) Let’s not conclude, therefore, that God is not. Let’s take a closer look.

My contention is this: there is no god that needs to be appeased. In this I agree with the atheists. This idol is a god out there somewhere who demands our compliance if we want to be safe. This god is nowhere to be found except in our own heads and projections.

I am still held in its thrall. Sad but true. I suspect I shall ever be a work in progress.

God is not ‘out there’. God is the very matter out of which the world is made. That matter is love. God sometimes seems to be a Person to whom we can relate, and who offers us love and acceptance without requirements, who appears in various guises, as an incarnation of the Christ or an enlightened Buddha, or as the neighbour, the person next door, some tree on a hillside, the blackbird singing in the dead of night, the weeds creeping up between the paving slabs, and the paving slabs. At other times God seems to be the World taking us into Her arms. At yet other times God seems to be my arms embracing the world with open-hearted love and amazement that I “should be, who nothing was”.