Language of Listening

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I’ve been wondering what my language is recently. And also who do I think this “God” is that is speaking to me! It’s ponderous to think how that image of God was given to me in childhood and to my surprise can sometimes still be my default.  It seems to be a conglomerate image of a severe judge sitting on a throne waiting for me to die and let me know if I get in, an powerful man with a long white beard who loves me but who sees me as falling short in so many ways, a mystical person who is in heavenly clouds, wearing a white robe, surrounded by angels, peering down at me on earth to see what I am doing.

Yet, none of that is my actual experience of God. If I was to tell you of God, I could tell you a story of voice that spoke to me at 9 years old, telling me all is well, despite the news that my baby brother would die.  (and he didn’t). I could tell you of the raw awe that boiled up in me when I reached the peak of Igloo Mountain and let my soul lay down with the Dall rams there– in pure joy. I could tell you of the fierce strength that arose when I needed to talk to a family whose father just committed suicide. Or I could relate this soft love that came unbidden seeing a baby look me deeply in the eyes while standing in line at Walmart, as if we were  sharing a secret of where she had so recently come from. I could recount the deep will it took to not go rescue my son when he was depressed. Or whisper to you of that peace that truly passes understanding when I listened to Pastorale by Secret Garden driving through Capital Reefs National Park. Those are just a few ways God has been in every small detail of my life, in the consciousness of my very being, in the motivation of my every doing. In all I would call good or bad, wrong or right, happy or sad. God just is with what is.

The name “God” almost has too much old-angry-judge baggage for me to use for referring to my actual  experience. I use The Divine, the Source, Love, the Real, True Nature, Truth at times instead. But I’m reluctant to give up on the name “God”. Even if the image wasn’t the reality as a child, and even though the name of God has been used to propose and purpose the most horrendous acts of mankind, I don’t want that to take away the fact that this name is sacred. God has always been Present with me, and within me. A metaphor I’ve heard is that God is the ocean and I am a wave in it. I am particular and distinct and yet never separate from or different from that vast ocean. God is not “he” or “she” or “it”.  I would say, God is a sense that I carry with me, a basic trust, a Presence that includes all, free of judgment, full of unconditional love, and yes a mystery. I like that. I like not knowing it all. If the scientific truth is that the Universe is still expanding, then the Force behind it truly “blows my mind”–I can’t grasp it and I do not want to. I want to be in it.

God no longer speaks to me in the language of sin and sinner that I grew up with. I know that theology backwards and forwards and for a while it worked for me. But then I learned a new language that didn’t have “sin” in the  vocabulary. No it’s not New Age; it’s My Age. It’s my experience of a Creator that isn’t out to condemn or straighten out. Only to invite me into the More of this life.  This new listening is fascinating. That “God” speaks to me now in a new language that I can hear better. And yet, all the other ways God to speaks to people–are valid too. It’s all so finely attuned to where we are. That is the kind of Love I’m getting used to now. A Love that meets us. A God not of distance or time or behind some pearly gates. (A captivating  image to have Peter and the Book for cartoons, not reality.)

Gandhi advises me to have listening ears– not ears that already know how God will speak to me or assume to know God’s language.

I want to just be curious now. What will I hear next?

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