Picture this: I’m standing in the middle of a very large room, a bit like a hall, in front of a large group of people. Everyone is holding onto a pile of pictures of God that they’ve brought along. I put it to the floor: “Does anyone have a picture of God that they would like to bring out and put on the wall so we can have a look?” People are standing with bags and crates full of their pictures of God so it’s a ludicrous question to ask and I’m just teasing them. Everyone is there and ready with their pictures. I have to create some disappointment though, by saying that we can look at their examples of pictures after I have finished covering the walls with mine first.
I place my first one on the wall.
It’s called ‘Geocentricity – God you need to introduce yourself to me.’
I have lived most of my life thinking that God wasn’t part of the equation that I had of life. He was something or someone that other people had in their lives. I felt this in spite of attending a Christian school where we sang hymns and prayed every morning. Yet I felt no connection with this God. This God seemed like a person but one that was in the sky. So that was one of my big expectations or pictures – that he floated down towards people and said, “Here I am, now you can trust me.” I don’t suppose God has a whole lot of time for formal introductions like that.
The next picture was called ‘God loves to measure.’
I read a blog this morning called ‘God Doesn’t Add Up’ and it made me think of another picture I had of God. The way that I have been living would suggest that God lives in a room full of measuring apparatus – measuring tapes, rulers, barometers… anything with a measuring function to it. And he sits there spending his time measuring us all day long. I guess God might not have time for that. But we do. It is only we who self-measure and it is very ungodly to do so. The more I become aware of the abuse this self-measuring incurs, the more I am able to consciously let it go.
So, if I start to dismantle the pictures I hold of God, then what is left of what I understand God to be?
Well, there are understandings of God that make me sit bolt upright. I know that we all have a deep relationship with God that is not fostered through institutionalised religions. God is not in words or adherence to a book. So where do we get our connection with God? Is it from effigies that we look up to and give a moment’s attention to? Is it from reciting words and prayers? Is it from feeling bad about the things we have done?
There is another picture that has popped up:
God is above and separate from us.
Can we fathom that actually we are the same and equal, but have just chosen to make ourselves less?
So, when I ask these questions –
- Could I go shopping with God?
- Could I go to the gym with God?
- Should I have had dinner with God?
- Should I be speaking to my brother with God?
- Should I be teaching with God?
The answers are all yes.
Expression is an amazing tool for bringing out beliefs that we have picked up and run with but that are completely contrary to what we feel inside and know to be true. It’s as though our bringing these beliefs out in the open air to shine some daylight on them gives us very little option but to leave them behind.
In writing this I have found one of the greatest pictures of all buried in the pile. I’m dusting it off and considering if it is one that I can really afford to let go off. After all, it is a very big one, and has been very expensive in terms of all that I have invested in it: useful in terms of the huge space it takes up on the wall too – without it there will be an exposed wall and well, space. It’s strange because the others I can easily scoff at but this one feels like it has some traction still there.
Without any further ado… it’s the one about not deserving God. When I drop this one, I open myself up to feeling God.
The vehicle for accessing this relationship with God is through my body; being able to connect to my body through feeling and listening to what it is saying to me. For example:
- When I feel the delicateness and gentleness of my body as I move;
- When I move with awareness of the length or tallness of my spine – sometimes it feels as though I am gliding;
- In my hands when I touch and pick things up tenderly, gently, lightly;
- When I am aware of the intimacy that I can feel with people;
- When I am aware of the delicacy that I can feel in me and others;
- When I can feel how still I can be and how this resides in others too;
- When I feel openness and transparency and our capacity to love and be close to each other.
For me, God is about awareness and clairsentience (feeling and sensing). It’s not something I can access through my mind and think about. It is something I feel.
It’s time to take down the pictures.
By Simone, Teacher, UK