In the Garden

"The Bible is a set of narratives that portray a social imagining of God developing over time in response to societal conditions.

Is God someone who wanders in a garden? Is God someone who wrestles physically and bodily with someone? Is God a burning bush? A pillar of fire? A mystery dwelling in a temple who can only be heard in Zion? A mysterious force that emanates through the entire world? Is God incarnate in God’s own son? Is God a spirit that appears at Pentecost and dwells with people? Or is God, in a post Biblical context, a Trinity of Beings who exist in relationship?

...Which one of those is God? Whatever we are speaking of when we speak of God, all of these have been ways we have understood and related to God. Because we are relational beings, we require that relational capacity to relate to God."

The Liturgists, S5 Ep12, 36:25, Freakin Mike McHargue.

I got to speak on Holistic Revolution on WXNA Nashville a few weeks ago about faith, among other things, and shared that the greatest awakening in my soul has unfolded to me how much more expansive God is than I ever knew. That I will never know the boundaries of God because they do not exist. That to believe God is "over all and through all and in all" means I will never meet a person or visit a place where God is not. That not even my language can contain or give shape to the Divine.

I once understood that only those with a specific (modern, Western, individual) relationship to God through Jesus were true children of God, and now I see we are, every one of us, carriers of the very essence of God; the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now, not located elsewhere for a time after death. I once understood that the Bible was the one true and complete revelation of God to humanity, and now I see that Earth herself, here long before any of us, whispers the fullness of God. I once understood that the Bible was the only way to a true understanding of God, and now I see that the Bible is a library, a catalog, a collection of the stories of those seeking to understand God over thousands of years. She contains the history, poetry, mythology, lament, and joy of a humanity trying to understand and relate to something or someone called God.

The pressure to force a literal understanding of these texts kept my faith in a cage. The gift of embodiment practices, travel, meditation, of learning from deeply faithful Muslim and Jewish and Buddhist and Black and Transgender and Roman Catholic and Atheists who are all seekers of truth from their particular place in the world, that gift has been to unleash my faith and allow it to expand. To love more deeply and cling less desperately to a particular understanding. To crave the questions more than the answers. To open up to a richness of spirituality that is more like a vast, wild garden than a singular creed.

To borrow the words of one of my teachers, Rachel Held Evans, there are days I believe and days I don't. And that's fine. Even on the days I don't believe, the garden still opens up and welcomes me in. There, John O’Donahue reads a poem which is the closest I feel to experiencing whatever it is we mean when we talk about God. In this garden, there are street kids and queer folk and addicts and weirdos and misfits and sex workers and refugees and the Fab 5 and the irreverent and artists and even a few Baptists and no wonder these are who Jesus partied with and there is no right or wrong there is only HERE. And I sense, even if I don't believe today, God is HERE.