Why do I know what I think I know!
The other night I was engaged in a group looking at the concept or idea of God. What does the word God mean, what does it mean to us personally? We used Marcus Borg’s series called “Adult Faith” to explore it a bit.
Marcus talks about his own experiences of ‘God” and his developing sense that there is a divine presence underlying all of life. He spoke of some mystical events that utterly convinced him of that reality when he was younger, and which he has never doubted since.
Wow that was a pretty powerful image, but not one that everyone shares. When leading groups like these, it always prompts some self reflection.
Why do I know what I think I know!!!
My own experiences aren’t that mystical. Rather it has been a growing sense that there is more to life that what we see in the physical world. Perhaps it was teaching Anatomy and preparing dissections for the classes! Since that time it has been a growing sense that what underlines life is an energy, an impulse, a spirit that supports and nurtures us at our deepest levels and encourages us to connect with one another in love. This presence cannot be seen, but rather can only be felt and experienced and then revealed in the way we live our own lives. It is a presence that for me is found in all of life, from the smallest molecule of the universe to the complicated but beautiful creatures we have become. It is the creativity underlying our passage from the big bang to homo sapiens and beyond. I am utterly convinced that this energy/spirit is what drives us to be better people, better communities and hopefully a better more just world.
I do also believe however that it’s really almost impossible to convince someone else, let alone ourselves, of the reality of God. Sure we can study the scriptures, taking into account the context in which they were written, explore the writings and actions of those people of faith who have gone before us, and who have been motivated to seek justice and peace. We can embrace the natural world revelling in the beauty found there or we can share together within our own traditions, but seek the wisdom that other faith traditions can offer.
We can do all this and still be wondering. Faith is something else, a trust that at the very depths of all there is, there is something more. It is at the level of the heart rather than the head. This type of faith does not hinge on certain beliefs, does not require blind followers, and does not expect that we will not have moments of doubt and longing. It does require a commitment to all people, a commitment to community and a commitment to love. Because for faith to become real and tangible it needs is to be lived out in the world. For me this type of faith is seen in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who reveals the something more in life, the intangible element within all things. It is Jesus who reveals God to me.
Borg described our relationship to God, or whatever term you choose, the divine presence, or spirit or energy or creative impulse, as fish are to the sea. It is not only that the water is in the fish but that the fish is in the water, buoyed and supported, in a way that is universal. We live in God in this way, and God lives in us. Perhaps this is what Luke meant when he said, God is the reality in which we live and move and have our being.
At the end of the meeting Marcus Borg recited a poem which sought to make real what he was describing. I could not think of a better ending than the song ‘Like a River” by Peter Mayer. God is like a river….let go. Here it is….
Ps. I would like to add that faith is a journey of discovery, and “certainty” a nonsense. The more you ponder the more questions are raised, but the richer becomes life.