Fundamental to what I write is the notion that life is far larger and more inclusive than most of us have been taught that it is. Looking at the cosmos with its endless stars, galaxies and even, dare we think it, other universes spinning beyond our own, with endless possibilities, effecting how we see and think about things we’ve taken for granted for so long that, like the concept of God, we take them for granted as true, reject them outright as false, or struggle to re-image them. I’m all for freeing them to be the most they can be. God is one of the concepts that seriously needs freeing from the rigid limits placed on it. As this poem by 14th-century Persian mystic and poet Hafiz said, “Dear ones beware Beware, beware / of the tiny gods frightened men / worship / to bring an anesthetic control and relief / to their sad / days.”
Following is a long poem that I wrote ten years ago on the subject “How big is God?”
How far can you imagine?
When it comes to picturing God,
Where does your imagination end?
Does it end where the next valley begins?
Or at the door of your church, synagogue,
Temple, mosque, backyard or field?
Or does your imagination extend to
The known limits of the universe
And wonder what may lie beyond?
Can you wrap your mind around the
Trillions of light years, the billion trillion miles
From one edge of the known universe to the other?
Do you see God in a person,
A plant, a shaft of light falling
From the sun and moon? Are you able to see
God in a child’s face and in the face
Of an old woman or man?
Is God expressed in breathing, laughter,
Kindness and mercy, or only in
Capsulated concepts and creeds solidified
Can God be fit into a concept, as
A person fits foot into sandal, boot or shoe?
What do you do with the parts that don’t fit?
Do you lop them off, or do you stuff as much
As you can into the concept and deny
The rest is real?
What would happen if you quit trying to fit
God into what you can understand?
Would you be able to handle the resulting
Hubbub, the weirdness, the colossal loopiness
Of a God who chases down strays,
Follows poor people around, teaches dancing,
Laughs at the self-important, shows compassion
To the hurt and the fearful, and is immensely patient
With the slow to learn like me? What kind of God is it
Who wants people to expand the light inside them until
They glow like halogen lamps that light up all the darkness
So that everyone can see? This kind of God doesn’t
Fit into any concept or creed. This kind of God
Breaks all the molds in order to let the light out. This
God is a nuisance who doesn’t leave anyone alone
If you followed this kind of God around,
Pestering Him or Her with questions, what
Difference would it make in the way you think about
And treat yourself, your loved ones and
The world you live in? Who would you include
In your family, tribe, neighborhood,
Congregation and club?
Imagine what might happen if you learned to
See with this God’s eyes; looked at yourself and
The world from this God’s vantage point? The idea
Could keep you awake nights thinking about it!
And what would the neighbors and your family think?
Trying to limit God to concepts about God is
Both foolish and tragic, because concepts solidify
The minute we give birth to them and end in
Squabbles over which concept is the right one.
Concepts divide the world into what is acceptable
And what is not. They create enemies lists
Of people whom we can treat with contempt,
Persecute, banish and kill. Enemies lists are inevitable
Where reality is divided into warring factions.
People end with heads and limbs lopped off,
Murdered in their beds because they belong
To the wrong faction, neighborhood or tribe.
The loppers are always righteous, or at least
My thought is this:
If God is truly the creator of the universe,
Then God’s light suffuses everything,
Illuminates every life,
Every corner of creation,
No matter how small,
Remote or insignificant.
I believe that wherever light exists, God is,
Even in the darkest dumps and corners.
I believe that wherever love is expressed,
God is present, and that wherever
Beauty dawns in a human heart it is because
The light God planted there has begun
To shine from deep within that person’s heart,
This is the God I choose to follow,
The One who runs to meet his
Returning son and daughter, who leaves
His flock of ninety-nine
To go and look for the one who
Is lost, looks into every crack and cranny
Until the lost one is found
And brought back home.
This God then celebrates the finding
With feasting, music and dance
Until the wee hours.
That’s the sort of God
That I can follow,
One who brings me home again when I
Fall, sets me on my feet, and goes and
Looks for all the
Other fallen ones,
And dances in celebration
When they are found.