Are you alive?
Check your vital signs:
- Is your heart beating?
- Are your lungs functioning?
- Are you living with a deep satisfaction?
- Do you experience the breadth of peace and wholeness?
- Do you have overflowing joy?
Those are all signs of God’s life filling your life.
Life is our response to the invitation of the Beloved to be loved.
The best image for that response is the embrace. The Divine Lover reaches out to us and invites to sink into the embrace of presence; to connect with all there is.
How do you connect with people?
Usually we keep our distance.
In polite company you might shake hands. There is a connection there, but it is still at a distance. We retain control over the space between us. This kind of business-like interaction with people is safe. We stay secure. But it isn’t love. It isn’t what God invites us to.
If physical contact is too threatening, then we can just wave at people. We definitely keep our distance that way. We don’t want to be rude, but the relationship is more of acquaintance than friend.
How do we connect with God?
I wonder how often we settle for being acquainted with God. We construct an understanding of God that is all about the omnis (omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, etc). They all sound great, but they keep God at a distance. Who can imagine embracing an omni-whatever being?
Even when we gather as a community of faith to celebrate God we set up rituals that give the appearance of connecting with God while still maintaining a safe distance from the one who created us.
Annie Dillard speaks to this distance in the context of worship:
Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”
(Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.)
We need to do more than just wave at God with a smile and a promise to call someday. Even a polite hand shake with the Divine is not enough.
We need to embrace the source of Love.
While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. (Luke 15:11-32, this is verse 20)
The story of the prodigal and the embracing Father shows us the way.
Notice, the father is the one who crosses the divide caused by rebellion to hold the returning child close. The invitation to intimacy with God in this story soars to a different level.
What we want the most the Divine One also desires: for us to take the risk and embrace life in its fullest essence. An embrace demonstrates our full commitment to the one who holds us. Our body, our heart, and our attention fully connects with the one we embrace.
Life is not about keeping our distance.
We are already embraced by the grace and presence of God. As we respond to that embrace with all we are we complete the circle and find ourselves living More fully in every dimension.
- What are some views of God that keep God “out there?” How do you maintain a non-intimate relationship with God?
- Where can you let down your guard and allow the embrace of grace touch you?
- How can you create space in your busy, safe life for showing your love for life?