God rid me of God

Recently I viewed a YouTube video by Australian performance poetry artist, Joel McKerrow. “God Rid Me of God’ it was called. The poem explores the constraints we put on the nature of God; the shackles we use to confine God. Joel entreats that we stop shaping God in our own image: “God, rid me of God, until I find you in the silence of my breath.”

He put a finger on my struggle.

Is it necessary to define the indefinable?

Is it important to name the un-nameable?

Can words ever do an adequate, or even half-hearted, job of capturing the essence; the vitality; the ‘otherness’ of God?

Do the rituals I participate in reveal God, or obscure the true nature of God? A bit of both, I suspect.

We are human. We get bored. We become impatient. We are creative. We like to add our own stamp. We can’t resist the urge to revamp; to change. Perhaps, it is a well-intentioned desire to meet a perceived need in ourselves or in our communities. But what we can end up doing is so cluttering up our liturgies, and our prayers, and our sacred spaces, and our inner self, that we obfuscate the essence of God. Do we seek to be entertained or or educated or distracted? We like to explain things -perhaps over-explain – but “the who-ness of God dwells in inaccessibility.” We focus on our self and not on the ‘Other’. It becomes about what we feel and not whom we seek.

Consider the chasuble ….

An unadorned piece of finely woven fabric, cut well, will drape sublimely on a presider. With arms outstretched in prayer and praise, the cruciform shape is an immediate reminder of Christ. We are drawn into the mystery – simply, silently becckoned into LOVE.

But we cannot resist the temptation to decorate; to ornament; to embellish; to proselytise; to put a bit of ourselves onto it and into it. So our senses, and therefore our minds and our hearts, are distracted. We consider the workmanship; the design; the symbolism … and forget to whom it points.

On the other hand …

I was privileged to accompany a small, inter-generational family as they experienced for the first time the sacrament of reconciliation, or celebrated it again after a long absence. This was an intimate encounter: a palpable mix of silence, prayer, anxiety, joy, hugs and smiles, thanksgiving. Stripped of formulaic responses and self-consciousness, all we could see and feel was the loving embrace of a ‘God-beyond-all-expectations’. A deep inner peace reigned. The experience sustains me still – twenty years later.

I yearn for the simplicity of the disciples going out with nothing extra. I yearn for the silence present when Jesus went away to pray. I seek the essence of God. I catch a glimpse of it in shady  forests and beside lakes. I encounter it briefly in my room at dawn. I seek it, too, during public worship. Sometimes, amid the cacophany of images and sounds, I fail to remain engaged, focused, attentive. But then LOVE cames and sits beside me … and I begin again.

Resources:

God Rid Me of God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzv0TNcTw54

Joel Mckerrow:  http://joelmckerrow.com/

Liz Pearce, mother of 3 adult children, loves story, dollmaking, writing and silence.

News category: Analysis and Comment.

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