There have been many losses as I have deconstructed the faith I inherited. One of the more difficult has been the loss of relating to God in the way I would relate to a human friend. I grew up in a expression of Christian faith that taught Christianity as having a personal relationship with God. I liked that. After all who wouldn’t want someone whose hands had flung stars into space to be their friend.
This was a helpful starting place, for the concept of God a person is definable and manageable. Yet there was always a nagging dissonance between my notion of what a friend was and the reality of this “personal relationship”. How could I enjoy the companionship of someone who didn’t verbally contribute much in conversation? How could I really know someone whose thoughts often suspiciously echoed my own!
When I discovered the contemplative path, I begun to see God in a more expansive way. I experienced Gods peace through meditation, and recognised Gods hand in a sunset or a walk through the forest. It was beautiful and meaningful, but it wasn’t personal. I loved and revered the largeness of God, but grieved what felt like to the loss of a personal relationship.
One of the problems with the word God is that it creates an image in our minds of a person. It may be an old man with a white beard, a blue goddess with 8 arms, an icon, or Jesus in jeans. Each reduces all that God is into human form. But God is not human, and no form can convey all that God is. When we give God a name, and a gender (he!) we limit God to a single form. Maybe that is why God gives so many different names and images when asked for one?
Love itself is without form, although it takes on many forms. A mother nurturing her child. A prisoner of war sharing their only piece of stale bread. A man dying on a cross. Each act a perfect but partial expression of divine love we know as God. It is the formlessness of Devine love that enables it to express itself so freely in so many ways.
The same formlessness that enables God to be truly personal. For Devine Love lives within me, and I live in Devine love. God is the air that I breath, and you can’t get closer than that.
So maybe it is time to let go of my outdated notion of God as form to allow Devine Love to be truly present with me, in me, and through me. To recognise my very life as an extension of this love and to live in relationship with it. The closest of companions.