God Through All and In All
One of the ways of conceptualizing God that has made the most sense to me is that God does not act as an external force upon things, but is the energy that acts through all things. This is a helpful and necessary shift, I think, from the idea of an all powerful God that controls things from above.
Acting in and through all things is different from acting on them from the outside. This God acts in sync with nature. God is the energy of life that bursts forth from the womb, from the seed in the ground, from the stars. We can commune with this God to the extent that we get in touch with our own aliveness.
Recently I had the privilege of speaking with Paul Knitter, and as I was reviewing his book, Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian, I came across a phrase that I love: "Vivat et regnet in me Christus vivens," which means "May the living Christ live and reign in me." This prayer can be a kind of contemplative practice. As I walked through the forest on a sunny Spring morning, I considered that Christ was walking in the forest through me. The same powerful presence that lived in Jesus also lives in me and in you. Can you walk with that kind of presence and dignity? Can you imagine Jesus, or the Buddha, walking through the forests and fields and cities thousands of years ago, looking with the same eyes that you have, and listening with the same ears that you possess? Thinking in this way puts life in a different frame. Life takes on a different quality, and so does our understanding of God.
Shifting our focus from seeking God outside of ourselves to looking inward makes all the difference. Once we can recognize God within ourselves, only then can we begin to recognize God in the world and in others. We begin to see that God is the pulse of life in everything. When we align ourselves with the deep love and presence that lives within us, then we can allow God to act through us. We recognize that anytime a person is absorbed with the energy of love and compassion, God is working in them and through them.
If you cannot sense God within yourself, I pass on to you something I have heard from many others, and find to be true in my personal experience. The voice of God, contrary to most people's imaginations, is not a loud, booming voice. Most of the time the voice of God is a delicate whisper. You have to get really quiet if you want to hear it...which is not an easy thing to do in our society. The voice of God is the quiet whisper of your own heart. Practice just listening to it, listen to what draws you into love. Practice that until you can recognize the whisper more clearly and easily. Make a habit out of it. To the extent you can do that, you can connect with God.
May you discover the Spirit of God that lives in you and through you.