The idea of an ever present ever unfolding Divine Pattern in life is, I suppose, a matter of faith. A Divine Presence too big to wrap your mind around connects all things in ways seen and unseen, always unfolding. I know this experientially. But how can I think about something as huge and all encompassing as God. Three metaphors of God resonating with me--God the Tree, God the Dancer, and God the Path. God is a growing Seed. It takes hold, ever nurturing, ever nourished, and represents the most holy part of myself. God, ever growing and expanding, is ever reaching too. Some time ago I carelessly dropped the seeds of a grapefruit into a house plant next to where I sat. A few weeks later there it grew, a piece of Florida in my wintry dining room. As this grapefruit tree matured it has become an image of that of God in my soul. I didn't ask for it, but there it grew, a gift now more than six feet tall. From the start it seemed destined to flourish, to reach for the sky in its own way. When I forget to water it for a while, it droops and sags. I remember and in minutes it begins to perk. Twice it has become root bound. The leaves have turned yellow, and until I have replanted it in new pot and fresh soil, it languished. When my soul becomes root bound, a new leading takes me to fresh experiences and deeper learning.
Faces of God
Take a leaf from the grapefruit tree and crumble it in your hand--the aroma transports you. Nurtured and watered it grows. Neglect it for a while and it waits patiently. It is much like that of God in me, so much like my soul. When it needs to expand it waits for the call, for the new pot to make it's direction known. Let it alone, give it daily attention. It is a gift -- in me, but not of me--not created by me. It's beauty and fragrant leaves are there for the enjoyment, it accepts all love, only needing nurture.
God is a dancer. The dancer is neither male nor female, or is it both male and female? I cannot be sure and it doesn't matter. The dancer swirls and whirls around us always moving, always exuberant. Sometimes distant, I watch the robes and the patterns of the dance. Sometimes close, I feel just a hint of a breeze from the dancer's robes. Now and then I find the dance reflected in the faces of worshipers at meeting. In young and old, in the shifting of seats and the silent intent faces and the squirming absorbed children of worship, the dance and the dancer are mirrored. Other times I can just catch the smell of the dance if the window is open and the breeze just right. Then it blows by me, a breeze in a fresh rain. I see the celebration of the dance in joy and laughter, in hugs and hand holding, in contentment and in the ease of sitting with old friends or kindred spirits.
Amid the long silence of worship, I rise to my feet. Heart pounding, palms sweating, the dancer whirls around me, calling that part of me that belongs dancing. For some minutes I've fought the impulse to stand and share, but here I am on my feet talking, singing the song of the dance with my words. Message given, I sit down, relieved. I am released from my duty. I rejoice. I have been part of the dance.
God is a giant pattern of paths laying across the landscape--a swirl of Celtic knots, overlapping and intertwining, circling both, ever further outward and always back in on itself. The paths of God lay over the fields, in the woods, the cultivated orchards and deep wild forests of life. In some places the path is clearly marked -- a fine brick walk way, bordered with blooming flowers. In other places, as the path wanders through the woods, it is covered with a layer of leaves and pine needles. While the path itself cannot be actually seen, where it is and where it isn't is clearly visible. In other spots--in the brambles and the blackberry bushes--the path is completely hidden. It can be seen disappearing into one side of the thicket and out the other, but to follow it you'd need to be on your hands and knees in the dark and to feel the way. In places it seems wide and comfortable and in other spots narrow and treacherous.
Sometimes my path is clearly marked. The way is unmistakable. I travel along the path, sometimes going off the pattern by accident or occasionally by intent. Most often though, I try to follow it closely. God the dancer may be there, calling and leading the way. Sometimes I crawl through the deep brambles trying to search out which way to turn, scratched by thorns but never sure of when I'm on the path or when I've wandered from it. The way is covered and unclear. Any leadings, my ministry, are lost in the complexity of daily life. The path is full of choices and decisions, turning left or right at an intersection may well take me on different routes to the same destination. I can be off the path, I can be on it. The searching is sometimes alone, sometimes with others. The path lays and waits for me to journey. The path is complex and wonderful that it takes many experiences to find the pattern of love to live by. The path of God is always unfolding, always both worn and new.
God is a paradox, contradictory images filling needs and leading us in different ways. God is a mystery--staying constantly the same and constantly changing. The Divine is present in our lives when we look, waiting when we don't. Our images of God, our understanding of the Divine, are interconnected and important. God as grapefruit tree grows and spreads its branches and leaves, filling life and leading to growth. God as dancer dances each and every day, showing the way to joy . God the pattern lays out in good times and in bad, leaving me the choice and the direction. I know from experience that there is a holiness in life, a beauty around me. The experience of God brings each of us to the brink of joy, of responsibility and of yield. What celebration, what grace it brings to life. Does it make you smile? It should.
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