by Mary Schlitt
God is Who?
Close your eyes for a moment and let your mind take you back to your first knowing of God. Take a deep breath and let the image settle in. What comes to mind? Is it pleasant or frightening? Comforting or confusing? Tender-hearted or punishing? Maybe a combination of things?
I can recall at a very young age being in the hallway by the cabinet that held the toys, sitting there and reciting: “God, is here, God is there, God is everywhere.” Thanks to a Catholic Catechism book for kids, I knew this about God. In my young mind, I guess he was akin to Santa Claus–he sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake.
Speaking of sleeping, I also recall kneeling by the bed and holding my tiny terry-cloth teddy-bear while praying, “Now I lay me down to sleep….” That prayer conjured images of someone holding my shoes throughout the night (“I pray the Lord my sole to keep”), and it instilled a mild terror that I may not wake up tomorrow (“If I should die before I wake”). I imagined that the Lord wanted to keep my shoes – “I pray the Lord my sole to take!”
Our experiences and knowing of God are shaped and reshaped throughout our lives, for better or for worse. Sometimes experiences lead us to give up on God because we think God’s given up on us. Other times, our beliefs feel firm and grounded and unshakeable. I’ve experienced both in the same week! Whatever the case, there are three things I am certain of:
(1) God is unchanging. That’s it! I can’t explain it, but I know for certain that He’s steady and stable.
(2) There are not enough words in any human language to describe the mystery and magnificence of God. Every single day we’re invited into a nu way of seeing and a nu way of being. The only requirements are an open heart and an open mind.
(3) I’ve learned that shoes are optional!
I leave you with a poem I wrote in March of 2012 to help you reflect upon your own journey with knowing God…
When I was young I learned to pray
Bowed head and bended knee,
“Now I lay me down to sleep”
To a God I couldn’t see.
And as I grew, my prayers did too
They taught me well to say,
“Give us this day our daily bread”
To a God who’s far away.
And as I aged my prayers became
A plea born out of cares
“Help me! Help me! Would you please?”
To a God I’m not sure hears.
Then darkness broke into bright light
I can’t remember when
I heard, “Be still, I’m here my child”
From a God who’s always been
Right beside, around and in
So near I could have missed
“Just rest and be here quietly”
From a God I can’t resist.
To know, to cry, to long, to wait
To be, to love, to embrace
Are now the wordless prayers I share
With God in this silent place.