I use the word God often, but I’m not often sure what I mean by it. The image of the benevolent (if sometimes vengeful) bearded father of my childhood catechism stays with me. Intellectually, I want to believe in the Great Mother; I want the image of a round, slightly wrinkled grandmother to appear when I think “god.” But, when I conjure it up, I feel fake; feel as if I am appropriating a Women’s Studies logo designed to fit my political beliefs rather than making a connection to the all-powerful.
The “all-powerful,” there are problems with that. When I really stop to reflect on the spirit, I do not think of any sort of all-powerful being, but of a connection between all things, a spiritual link flowing between us. In his “Dark Materials” trilogy, Phillip Pullman calls it Dust. I think of it as an energy emanating from the earth or the universe, I don’t know, perhaps emanating from each of us. We take from it, and give to it as we can; our breath, our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions – all equally important in the mix.
Because of this connecting energy, it is important that we act according to a relevant moral code. That is, if we are “good” to each other, we add positive energy to the stream. When we are not, when we abuse others on the spectrum, when we live with hatred, then we add negative energy to the stream.
Part of this energy I can only define as magic. No rabbit out of the hat or endless length of kerchiefs, but something of the magic in fairytales, or, rather, tales of fairies. L. Frank Baum (of Wizard of Oz fame) wrote a wonderful biography of Santa Claus that depicts a part of the world I want to believe in. It is guided by love of humans and all living things, by a respect for the world, a code of conduct that requires adherence to an organic rulebook. There is a code that demands certain treatment of the natural world – how to approach deer, which trees can be cut for firewood – a code that allows humans to live in cooperation, not domination. And there are protectors, tree nymphs for instance, whose job is to keep balance.
Is that so far off from Christianity that calls on us to love our neighbors? Well, that is, if you include animals and plants and all the living world in the neighborhood.
Whatever God might look like – and really, how important are looks? – I have to believe in this idea of the connected universe. I don’t understand the connection, but I think that’s beside the point, too. There’s the whole theme of mystery to explore as I go along.
This is going to be an interesting journey; has been so far.
What does your God look like?