On Images of God

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