Saturday, December 27, 2014

Me and God......

“The deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reason power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.” 
Albert Einstein

So many folks believe they own God. Not only do they own him, they know what’s he’s thinking, how he wants things done, and how to find him.

These proprietors of God expect to be his lone spokesperson, as well as the sole arbiter of your behavior and mine. They point to a weighty tome or tablets as their blueprint, insisting that he transmitted “THE PLAN” upon which their edicts rely, the many rules for knowing and following God. There is an overlay of a belief that morality flows only from that source; that those who aren't lock-stepping behind them cannot possibly live a principled, ethical, life replete with love for others. 

Never mind that the whole PLAN was written by flawed folks like them—and me, too—even the part about how this plan got to us in the first place. By humans simply relating how God delivered all this information through flaming bushes, or entrusted to a sinner (again, one like you or me) who went to a mountaintop, or storytellers writing the tales down. There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation about who God really is and what he wants, when mortals are in charge of the details.

God and I have been compatriots at various points in my life. Once even in a highly ritualized way, complete with incense, candles..... and mere men who came to presume they WERE God. We had a falling out, though, and went our separate ways. It seemed to me that there is a whole lot of evil he could take care of if he got more involved. So, why doesn't he? What’s up with the “hands-off” approach to beings he supposedly created and loved so much? Why leave us hanging over--and tumbling into--the abyss so often? 

And the default position of “As humans we can’t understand why God does what he does. We have to trust Him” has never convinced me that God can get away with being complicit in children being tortured, for example. It certainly isn't the "free will" of those innocent victims that’s to blame, is it? Nonsense is nonsense even when formalized in celestial language.

Plus, many so-called paths to him insert an intermediary between the two of us, the creator of vastness and I. Did he set us up in a beautiful idyllic Garden only to distance himself from us as soon as we messed up? We are needy people and he seems to take a lot of coffee breaks.

Today, we talk. We cry on each other’s shoulders when we need a friend and everyone else disappears. We can have disagreements about how things are going, yet friends do that, don’t they? But we operate on our own terms. No intermediaries—human or mythical—are necessary. I’m thinking that the creator of the Universe doesn't need any help understanding my heart. He (or maybe he is a she, just to throw in another incendiary device to the conversation!) has taught me a great deal about loving and serving others, about living an ethical life, about savoring the moment and appreciating what I have right now instead of living in the past or the future. The Universe--or God or Allah or "the right path" or whatever we choose to call it-- has taught me that I don't need to know. I can simply sit in awe and accept and learn.

This is a relationship, much like all such relationships: complicated, messy, perplexing, and very personal. 

It works for me.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday-Induced Happiness?

Halloween barely takes off its mask these days before the Christmas music begins. Glittering trees appear overnight in malls and retail stores, almost as if required as part of November 1st. Maybe all those saints decreed it or something.

We complain about this rush to Christmas, but have you noticed that a warm fuzzy blanket of good will descends at the same time? Maybe this is why we grumble, but we don't object too vehemently. (The one aberration here is the chaos that ensues on Black Friday--or maybe even Thanksgiving Day--but that's a topic for another day. Plus, some people are just crazy, no matter the season.)

People are kinder during this time. I've even had strangers step aside for me as we both approach a common check-out line. Whoa!! In July, they have shoved me out of my planted position in that same line as we purchased our fireworks. Creating a few more, actually. 

We smile more at each other, wishing the mailman, the gas station attendant, the bag boy a cheery "Happy Holiday!" or "Merry Christmas!" And we all seem to mean it. Movements to fill various voids for others in need pop up in front of stores all over town. People who don't give a penny to a pauper any other time of the year do so now.

The roads are not only less populated as vacations begin, our traffic-induced tirades and stress levels diminish, too. Perhaps some of the smiling that began in those areas already mentioned spills over to our vehicles, too. (Unless two of us are eyeing the one remaining parking space in the back 40 of the mall, then all bets are off, of course.)

Twinkling lights, beautiful music, gracious attitudes and helping hands--maybe we could stretch this season from one end of the calendar to the other. Even those of us who are not religious constructionists can identify with this holiday of Ho-Ho-Ho Happiness. What's not to love about peace and goodwill? Isn't that what we all want, no matter what shape our star is--or even if we have no star at all?

“There's more, much more, to Christmas Than candlelight and cheer; It's the spirit of sweet friendship That brightens all year. It's thoughtfulness and kindness, It's hope reborn again, For peace, for understanding, And for goodwill to men!”