When I was growing up, we had a Bible with some nifty paintings in it. Most of these paintings portrayed God as a fearsome old man who looked a lot like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. This was a God to be feared.
In time I experienced other views of God. For example, at a workshop presented by Dennis and Matthew Linn and Sheila Fabricant, I experienced a feminine God. I also experienced the notion that sometimes our image of God is in need of healing.
Then I came to know the AA notion of the God of my understanding. I came to see that my image of God could be dynamic, a process that would evolve throughout my life. As Henri Nouwen once wrote “God doesn’t let Himself (or Herself) get caught in titles, names, and facts.” (Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, p. 37).
These thoughts were liberating. I no longer felt confined by that God in our family Bible nor even by a Catholic God. I could find God outside of churches. I could find God in other spiritual paths. I could also try to understand the kind of God I need in my life.
So at this point I need a God who is still creating. I need a God whom I can encounter in the mountains or at the seashore. I need a God Whom I can hear in the laughter of my grandchildren. And I need a God with Whom I can argue. Thomas Merton once wrote: “Our image of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” (New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 1). Perhaps that’s what God intends.
Reflection: How would you describe the God of your understanding at this point in your life? How has that image changed over time?
Further Reading: Matthew Linn, Dennis Linn and Sheila Fabricant Healing the Eight Stages of Life
Really glad to read this. I have my own notion of God, and my loved ones may have another notion of God and you know what? That’s totally cool.
We must have had the same Bible, Rich. When I was growing up and a young adult, my God was pretty much the same as yours. God has changed, or rather, I have changed over the years and my God is my friend now. He is my Father, advisor, and friend. If I had said this in my Baltimore cathecism class, the sisters who taught me would have been horrified! I find God is literally everywhere and always with me. It’s when I see the full moon, dawn, rain and snow that I especially marvel at my God. Today, my God is so different from 50 years ago, or rather, I am so different from all those years ago.
I love this! We must find our own God through life’s joyful moments. We must also be able to recognize these moments and be open to them in order to experience them fully. We know those moments when we feel them. It may be a walk through nature or laughing with children that give us that moment where our hearts swell and we lose ourselves in a moment of pure love. Seeking those moments is what it is to seek God. Continuing the logic…seeking happiness is seeking God. And to believe wars are fought over religion. 😐
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