Knowing God

Nic flowers

Once I calmed myself enough to help a tiny chickadee who’d flown into our cabin and couldn’t find her way out. She perched on my thumb for all of 60 seconds while I carried her out then set her free.

Yesterday we found the one hour of late afternoon sunshine to walk a two mile loop of the beach. Fierce howling wind and rain had surrounded us most of the day as we watched transfixed from our nest—snug second-floor living spaces at the beach cabin. Bundled up and finally outside, we walked then gazed in awe at the ragged bright-white caps and rainbow framing an ocean that reaches halfway around the world. We’re inside again now and it’s hailing—giant balls—through the sunshine. Somewhere out there is another rainbow.

Thus, and there are zillions of such stories over my lifetime, I have known God through nature—when I was young walking a trail with my parents and sisters and spotting one shiny orange salamander after another, being awakened in the middle of the night by howler monkeys in the tropics or hippos on a savannah, soloing through whitewater or up a rock face. Lately the majesty has extended to man-as-God creations: the music in La Misa Campesina, the mix of Latin tunes my son made for me, Sagrada Familia, the poems of Mary Oliver.

By extension, behaviors have allowed me to sit in God’s lap, to use a metaphor. Years and years of serving others—children and families through special education, health access programs, worshipping and discerning with Spanish speakers.

More recently, these behaviors have become less deed-like and more quiet and solitary. Just God and me, God in me, God as me: consistent journaling and meditation practice every morning, breath and body exercises, swimming and dancing, often alone. As a result I know the way forward.

For instance, the time recently when I was riding along with Franklin from Matagalpa to Masaya: I had planned to complete my theology homework while in Nicaragua. In fact, I’d planned ahead and brought my thin Spanish/English New Testament along, the one I borrowed from the Gideons last spring in a Florida hotel. I had already read the commentary from the heavy textbook that I sensibly left at home. I did bring notes with me though, brief summaries about I and II Corinthians and Galatians on post-its. I’d also copied the essay for the meeting after I returned so I could read it on the plane coming home and be ready. But the scripture reading itself of those three letters written by Paul just wasn’t happening. A few verses was a fine sedative but that’s about all I could say for them.

Then Franklin showed me his solar-powered audio device. He’d downloaded the entire Bible onto it and was happy to drum up II Corinthians. I could read along to an hour recitation in Spanish and call it good.

Nic EfM

Once completed, I added my own art review to summarize the highlights of the letters. A bit of a hodge-podge yes, but my intention was clear. My assignments were complete, given this very page of reflection about how I know and experience God and how God reaches me. I know God through the creativity of imagination and through behaviors. Especially during that hour on the Pan American highway, my eyes opened and the scales of any concern fell away.

In the words of Meister Eckhart, “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”

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