Archive for September 23rd, 2009

I recall a very short brochure that I found in the narthex of our church many years ago entitled, provocatively, ” Your G-d is too small.”

This little tract argued that whatever you think about G-d, about the unknowable, was, by definition, way too narrow to capture the true Being of the G-dhead.

We all have many beliefs informed by experience, our upbringing and the ideas that have become important to us. Indeed, they are legion. However, those same concepts that are the foundations of our beliefs are merely scaffolding on the sides of a tremendous mystery.

Too easily, we fall prey to the idolatry of mistaking the scaffold for that which we are trying to explore, co-operate with, and with which we long to develop a deeper relationship.

How do we protect ourselves from this idolatry?What practice can avoid having the very words and beliefs inspired by awe, act to paradoxically replace awe with a presumption of knowledge and intimacy?

A technique I am using this morning I will simply call the “ABCD” Model.

1. Affirmation – what is it that I believe

2. Basis – why do I believe it?

3. Challenge – what if I am wrong?

4. Declaration – how might I reframe the affirmation to better capture what I’ve discovered?

Trying it on now, I begin with an affirmation central to my belief:

A: “Where beauty and love are there also is G-d,” from the Gregorian chant, “Ubi Caritas”.

B: I assume, in believing this, that:

1. Beauty evokes awe, joy, and deep satisfaction, and G-d resides in that sweetness.
2. Love is kind, patient, generous, warm and caring and these are the signposts of goodness, grace and the spirit of G-d.
3. Beauty and love engender a deep sense of intimacy and connection.

C: Can I not see and feel G-d in what I experience as ugly and unloving? Is G-d then only in the sweet and not in the bitter? Is the Spirit absent in adversity, suffering and pain? Can there be real sweetness without bitterness? Can there be beauty without the grotesque? Can there be true light without the defining shadow?

D: Where my seeing is unvarnished so I can truly see the beauty in the ugly, the bitter in the sweet, the separation in the intimacy, the shadow in the light, and the calm inside the storms, there also is G-d!

Try it for yourself

Beauty in the storm

Beauty in the storm

© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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