Where is God?

I recently heard a wonderful story teller share his art.  His name is Fr. John Shea and he is a theologian who, like Jesus, seems to recognize that stories are the shortest distance between humans and truth. But also like Jesus, he seems to understand that theology is nothing more than stories about God. And so, he practices his craft by telling stories and reciting his poems. Let me start with one of his poems, this one drawn from his book, The God who Fell From Heaven.

A Prayer to the God who Fell From Heaven

If you had stayed
Tightfisted in the sky
And watched us thrash
With all the patience of a pipe smoker,
Then I would pray
Like a golden bullet
Aimed at your heart.
But the story says
You cried
And so heavy was the tear
You fell with it to earth
Where like a baritone in a bar
It is never time to go home.

So you move among us
Twisting every straight line into Picasso,
Stealing kisses from pinched lips,
Holding our hand in the dark.
Stroking the hair of repentance.
Making clay for the eyes of night.

So now when I pray
I sit and turn my mind
Like a television knob
Till you are there
With your large, open hands
Spreading my life before me
Like a Sunday table cloth
And pulling up a chair yourself
For by now
The secret is out.

You are home.

This was the fundamental message and life of Jesus.  Human life is the home of God.  But that still leaves us with a crucial question.  Where exactly is God in human life.  All we see if people. We don’t see God.  How are we to recognize the Divine presence in the world?  This brings me to the story told by Fr. Shea.

You take a piece of dough, then you take a piece of leaven, and then you shove the piece of leaven in the dough and you wrap it up. Who sees the leaven? Nobody sees the leaven.  How do you know the leaven’s there? Because the dough rises. You won’t see God in your life. How will you know God is there?  You’ll be rising.  Jesus said, “Who has ever seen summer? No one has ever seen summer.  How do we know it’s summer?  The trees bloom.”  How will you know God is in your life? You will be blooming. For Jesus, God was people on the move, on the journey of becoming more than they were, on a journey of transformation – moving from situations that were destructive and unjust to situations that were creative, loving and redemptive.  Where is God?  God is at home in the world and in the midst of the affairs of our life.

God is already present.  It is us who are absent.  That is why awareness is, and will always be, the foundational spiritual practice.  We will never be more aware of God than we are aware of anything and everything.  Want to know where God is in your life?  Notice where you are being invited to become more than you are.  Want to know where God is in the world?  Notice movements of becoming – individuals, relationships, organizations, communities, and societies becoming more than they are.

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