Monday, August 18, 2008

Spiritual Where's Waldo

In the popular 'Where's Waldo?' books, Waldo is always in plain site on the page, but there is so much other distracting stuff around him that he's difficult to locate. There may be other people that look like him in the picture, and you might only be able to see a part of Him and he might look different to what you anticipate.
In the Contemplative Service yesterday we talked about God's presence in our lives. There are certain places that people go to where they say they encounter God. Beaches, Mountains, Churches etc can all be possible places.
There are other places we go to that are just part of our everyday existence. The grocery store, the office, the kitchen etc. Most of the time in those places we are not particularly mindful of God, but we believe he is there even if we do not experience him.
There are still other places that we find it very difficult to imagine God being present at all. These are normally defined by moral judgements we might make regarding the location.
Something in us says that 'For God to be in those places is an outrage.' We may make a theological leap to say that yes God is there, but we believe God is frowning and judging.

The bible seems very clear that we cannot get away from the presence of the Divine. Take Psalm 139:7-12 for example:

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself,
"Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light,
they're all the same to you.

Wherever we go, God is already there.

I believe that theologically, but sometimes it is difficult to see.

Friday evening I was out to dinner with Steve when one of our friends drunk dialed him. We were rather concerned and eventually found out that he was at a Strip Joint in town. We drove over there to get him and brought him back home and put him to bed - it was quite an adventure.

I was praying on the drive over that he would be aware of God's presence in the midst of the Strip Club, and that God would keep him safe. I found myself asking the question that we have asked the Contemplative congregation to sit with this week: "Where are you present in this moment, God?". The simple answer came back to me that God was present in that moment because Steve and I were there to take care of him.

That's a nice simple answer, and it gives me a nice 'warm' feeling, but it raises the question 'If Steve and I had not shown up would God have been absent?' It seems arrogant to suggest that I would have to be in a place for God to be there!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I drive to the strip club, you're there!
If I drink myself under the table, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far corner of my misery,
You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting!

No matter where any of us may go, God is already there waiting.

The problem is, I'm having trouble 'seeing' him in some situations. It's like playing 'Spiritual Where's Waldo'. Waldo is hard to see because so many other people look similar, and often you can only see part of him in a different position to how he normally is.

Maybe that's the key here.

My presuppositions of how God 'looks' and 'acts' get in the way of me seeing him in some situations. Every person in the strip club is made in the image of God and reflects Him somehow. My presuppositions and judgements make that image even harder to find.

The challenge is to keep looking.

So, let's spend the week asking ourselves 'Where are you present in this moment, God?' and hopefully He/She will surprise us.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Very interesting. I have a lot to think about. In the meantime, you are a very kind friend and I wish more people would associate the kindness you showed your friend with Christianity and not the kind of judgement many would expect in the same situation.