Inktober Day 31- ‘Slice’
Well – here we are at ‘Blogiversary Day Plus One’ and I’ve decided to look back over some posts that have meant much to me over this first year of Holding Heaven. Not necessarily those that have garnered the most ‘likes,’ pageviews or comments, but posts that I’ve particularly enjoyed writing; that have turned out to have reflected what has been going on for me in my own spiritual walk, challenges as well as consolations.
So, first on up Revisiting The Well: Unknowing God
Those who’ve accompanied me over the past 20 years or so, (spiritual directors, retreat leaders and others), will know that I’ve got a ‘bit of a thing,’ about the account in John Chapter Four, of Christ’s meeting with a woman from Samaria. It’s the passage I return to time and again for reassurance, challenge (ouch!) and above all, to find that ‘safe space,’ where I can meet with God.
But who or what exactly is God to me? To you? We’re in classic spiritual direction territory here: I can guarantee that when you first meet with a director/accompanist/soul friend, they’ll be very interested in building up a picture of the images you hold, (often hidden and in contradiction to what you actually profess to believe) , of God/spirit/ ground of being, where they might have originated and how these influence your relationships with others and your spiritual life in particular. Even if they don’t ask you outright initially, it will form part of their thinking as together you listen for the movements of the divine.
Sifting through what helps and what hinders has always been a challenge for me, so imagine my delight when on rereading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation, his reflections affirmed the normality of my struggles to try and ‘define the undefinable.’ The older I get, the more my inner cynic militates against seeming certainties, platitudes and easy answers that hold people in a state of guilt and try to deny the mystery and wonder of God.
Not that many moons ago, to read that ‘ there is no “such thing” as God’ would have filled me with dismay, guilt and the conviction that I was going to hell (whatever that is!) in a hand basket. Now it reminds me that all that matters is the simplicity of that divine encounter ‘when all our extraneous “stuff “ falls away, leaving just an essence of being and being known.’
My words, not Merton’s, but I’ve reposted his reflections below:
In the end Contemplatives suffer the anguish of realising that they no longer know what God is…That is precisely one of the essential characteristics of a contemplative experience. It sees that there is no “what” that can be called God. There is “no such thing” as God because God is neither a “what” nor a “thing” but a pure “who.” God is the “Thou” before whom our inmost “I” springs into awareness. He is the I Am before whom with our most personal and inalienable voice we echo “I am.”
– from New Seeds of Contemplation, Burns and Oats, 1992
A ‘slice’ of Blogiversary cake to ponder: When, or what have been your experiences of unknowing God? How did you ‘see’ the Divine, 5, 10, 20 years ago? Have these images changed, and how? Not to answer here, unless you want to, but to take away and chew over.