Wednesday, May 23, 2007

That God

My brother died 14 months ago. Since then, I have been through a lot of grieving pain and a lot of grieving joy and a lot of mess in between. I have striven to find meaning in the grief, in the range of emotions I have experienced, and I keep returning to one thing: God. (Wow, that sounds really corny. Bear with me.)

When I talk about God I don't have any mainstream definition of God in mind. I've struggled for a long time with my concept of God. (I've even struggled with using the word 'God' because of all the connotations and historical baggage it carries.) What in the world is 'God'? What do I mean when I refer to God? Through all of what has happened since my brother's death and even before his death, I have come to feel my brother's presence in my life very distinctly today, and I connect his presence
, as well as all of the joy and pain I have experienced, to what I define as my experience of God.

When I say that I feel the presence of my brother in my life, what do I mean? What is that? Is the experience of my brother’s presence only possible now that he has died, or is it possible to feel the presence of living people in my life though they may not be physically present? How does this relate to God?

What do I mean by the ‘presence’ of someone in my life anyway? In the case of my brother, I feel the connection we have as siblings that we forged while growing up together, whether we saw it then or not. I feel the impact he had on my personality, on the way I do things, the way that I think. I realize that part of him lives on in me, in who I am, in how I remember him. I feel his love for me, and my love for him. My brother’s presence in my life is the ever-present, never-dying connection between us that not even death can sever. This connection transcends the physical. This type of connection exists between people who are alive, too. We have to pay attention to the impact of others on our own spirit, in our own lives. I have begun to pay more attention to the presence of people who are alive in my life, whether they are physically present or not. To me, these connections are God.

I don't see such connections (or God) as defying or contradicting science. Science explains how things happen, predicts what will happen if we do one thing or another. Science gives us the how, the intellectual why (in many cases, at least), the what, the where, the who, and the when (in appropriate circumstances). Science does not give us the that. The connection I feel to my brother may be described psychologically, may be described as an evolutionary advantage for one reason or another, may be mapped out in my brain as a series of neurons firing, sure. What concerns me is not how or scientifically why I experience the connection – it would be absurd for there to not be a scientific explanation, and physically impossible. What concerns me is that I have this connection.

I extend this to all other areas of my life, as well. That I feel joy, that I feel pain, that I sometimes experience a strong pull to do one thing or another – that is God. When I listen to God, I am listening to all of these thats in my life, consciously or unconsciously; I am listening for the meaning, for a coming together of my experiences into a single pull, a single leading. I cannot possibly consciously pull it all together by myself, as an individual human. The thats and their coming together is also God. God pulls it together in ways that I often do not understand, but that I know in my core are right. It is the experience of knowing that makes me trust. That God, is a presence in my life.

These thats never go away. They are always present, always working in our lives. God is always present, always working our lives. God is inescapable in this way. What changes is our ability to listen to the experience of God, our ability to acknowledge it and follow that knowing in our core. I firmly believe that everyone experiences this God, sometimes or often unknowingly listens to and follows God. The experience of God is unavoidable. Recognizing God and listening attentively and purposefully is where we make a choice, where faith comes in.

This is where I am with God right now.

Love and Light,

1 comment:

Contemplative Scholar said...

Dear Claire,

It is so good to hear from you. I have missed you and worried that something traumatic had happened. Please accept my condolences on your brother's death.

This is a beautiful and moving post. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences.