In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being

Yesterday, driving through eastern Iowa for a Sunday morning supply gig, I heard a wonderful interview by Krista Tippet with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner on the NPR show, “On Being.”  The topic was Kabbalah and, in general, mysticism, particularly those forms coming out of the Jewish tradition.

Every exchange of the interview was fascinating being conducted as it was by a very knowledgeable Tippet and the gentle, humorous Kushner. I was particularly struck by one of the rabbi’s attempts to describe God and our relationship to God as understood by mystics of all stripes.

He said that Western religion has often seen God as in a picture with two circles. The first, very large, in the upper portion of the page; the second, much smaller, on the lower portion. God is, not surprisingly, represented by the larger circle and humankind by the smaller. So, Kushner said, God is outside of us and we are outside of God and we pray to God by sending our prayers “upward.”

What the mystical tradition of the East (and Western religions which have discovered it) says is that there are two circles alright. But, the smaller circle is found inside the larger so that we are inside of God and some of God is inside of us. Mystical experiences, which do not have to be dramatic flashes but are often simple, everyday occurrences, are those times when the line forming the smaller circle gets erased and we experience ourselves as we really always are — in God and God in us. What an amazing way to describe it!

Which, of course, reminds me of the prayer in our Daily Office based on Paul sermon in Acts at the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-29) “Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life, we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.

And so, there is no place where God is not.


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