The Most Basic Question #2

It is true. All of us suffer from what is called "God In A Box" syndrome. We are limited and so in order to understand the Unlimited we need to put Him in some kind of a cast that we can wrap our minds around.

As long as we keep this in mind, we can proceed with what we started last week. The question 'who is God' was asked to some people all around the world and the answers were published in a secular magazine. People everywhere hold in their hearts vivid impressions of God and these perceptions reveal the grandest extent of the human imagination. The answer to this question reveals as much about us as about the ultimate reality!

Agnes Collard is dying. Inhabiting a world of chemotherapy, injections and transfusions, she calmly asserts, "I find myself wondering, 'What if there really is a God? Won't that be extraordinary? Still, a death sentence does you apart from the other mortals who will keep on living. You find yourself thinking, 'I don't have to plan for that, I will not be here. I even feel somewhat removed from my children. But closer to God. I don't know what or who He is, but am almost sure He is there. I feel His presence, feel that He is close to me during the awful moments.

"And I feel love", she continues. "I feel cocooned in love. I feel it most strongly right before I go to sleep."

The face of God is always a veiled face. All of us have a customized idea of God, adapted to our individual needs and aspirations. This is why unless our prayer is not simply "Wow", then our God is too small.

Dr Arthur Peacocke is a molecular biologist in the University of Oxford, England. His testimony is valuable. "In my youth I became an agnostic. But I was terribly impressed, as I did research, that the universe really was intelligible. Why does nature always turn out to be more intellectually coherent than anything we can conceive before we do the studies? The beauty and rationality of the universe thrill me, from quarks to the human brain, its order, intricacy and integration. Personal relationships are part of that order…"

God is always beyond. One of the delightful teachings of the master was: "God is closer to sinners than to saints." This is how he explained it: "God in heaven holds each person story, by a string. When you sin, you cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot and thereby bringing you a little closer to him. Again and again your sins cut the string and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer."

Shekh Ahmed Ibrahim lives in a refugee camp in Gaza. After spending eighteen years in an Israeli prison for terrorism, his reaction not totally unexpected. "When I was arrested, I rejected God. I was so angry to find myself behind bars. I lost faith. I doubted Him because I decided that if He exists he would not leave me in such conditions. Then I realized that to rebel against the Creator is like rebelling against myself, for it is He who created everything in me: intelligence, hunger, strength, weakness, thought. All."

"It is difficult to describe Allah", he concludes. He is an intellectual image, so it is impossible to have a physical image of Him. Allah is the Director General."

Cody and Martha Faircloth are farmers in Florida. Their faith is simple and basic. "If somebody wants God, all they have got to do is look. He is all around. That don't mean He's busy shoveling out the goods when you ask for them, but god watches over us, all right. He allows us the privilege of raising 40 head of cattle a year. God lets us grow our vegetables. You can see God in a butter bean patch."

"You have to understand where God is coming from. You don't blame God for dry weather. You adjust… God is merciful. I don't think paradise is here. But I do believe we were put here for our enjoyment. We enjoy every day of it. From here, I can look at the old house and see my mother's rosebushes. She's gone, but the roses kept right on blooming. That's how it is with God. He's here now and will be when we're gone. He'll just go on and on, blooming right along, like them roses".

I am sure Cody and Martha would agree fully with what I once found hung on our fridge at the monastery. "God is crazy about you. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring. He sends you a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He listens. He can live anywhere in the universe, yet He chooses your heart. Yes, He is crazy about you.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.