I’ve been rereading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Mermaid Chair the past few days. It is one of those books that has many life lessons, and I always enjoy going back to revisit them.
One that is particularly meaningful to me is the following explanation of God. It comes from Brother Thomas, a monk who has yet to make his final vows. He is talking to Jesse, the central character at a moment that carries great significance for both of them.
Sometimes I experience God like this Beautiful Nothing. And it seems then as though the whole point of life is just to rest in it. To contemplate it and love it and eventually disappear into it. And then other times it’s just the opposite. God feels like a presence that engorges everything. I come out here and it seems the divine is running rampant. That the marsh, the whole of Creation, is some dance God is doing and we’re meant to step into it.
The reason that passage resonates so strongly with me is that it perfectly describes my sense of God. I belong to a traditional Christian religion and have been very active in a variety of ministries within that church, but I find my experiences of God are much stronger outside those walls.
As Brother Thomas says, “God feels like a presence that engorges everything” when I go outside and see the beauty of the trees, the flowers, the endless Texas sky over a rolling hay meadow.
I am not writing this to stir a debate over what practice of religion or spirituality is right. I truly believe that it is different for everyone, and when I worked as a chaplain in the hospital I found spirituality manifested in many extraordinary ways: The Omaha Indian who taught me about forgiveness, the biker who worked with Special Olympics, and the rehab patient who would burst into song and still the entire therapy room.
What I would like to stir is a bit of personal reflection on what God, or a Higher Power, means to you. If you care to share, that would be great.
5 thoughts on “Considering God”
First, I LOVE that paragraph you quoted from the book. I wish I’d written it, LOL.
Second, like you, my experience of God has expanded and grown exponentially since leaving “full time ministry” to write. It amazes me how much working within the church limited my understanding and view of God, community, worship, and even myself.
If I learned anything from my years in ministry, it was that God reveals himself to each person in a way that they can see and experience him, and often that way changes as we go through life. In addition, no two people see him the same way.
I used to need to see God as a person, a man even, so I conjured up a way for him to look. I think he was fine with that. However, now I no longer need him to look like anything because I see a revelation of God in a tree, a red tailed hawk, a bee, the face of a child, the gnarled hand reaching for a can of soup in the grocery store, a dog barking his morning joy.
I see the world as engorged with God, but I had to get away from people who tried to dictate how I should see him before I noticed how much he is present on the earth.
Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment, Beth.
It’s the kind of feeling I had at the writers’ retreat this weekend when I walked outside into the quiet of a new, deep snow and felt part of something bigger with no need to examine or explain it.
I can’t say that I see God as a man, but I do feel God is all around us, especially in the sun when it first peeks above the trees and in snow floating down and in the stillness of a lake.
Straight From Hel
Interesting that some of us writers seem to find God everywhere. I wonder if there is some kind of awareness that we have, the same way we have more awareness of people. Not sure if that is making sense or not. It’s late and my brain is sluggish.