God is in the tiny whispering sound

This Sunday's first reading from 1 Kings is one of my all time favorites, worth oodles of reflection (far more than is possible in one little blog post):
At the mountain of God, Horeb,Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him,“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

When I was in Friday harbor the other day I stopped into a bookstore.  In the Spirituality section, most of the books seemed to actually be from the New Atheist movement which I found to be interesting.  Putting books that claim there is no God in the spirituality section gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "spiritual but not religious."

I was raised Catholic, and obviously now consider myself to be Catholic, but in between there were about 10 years where I was agnostic on my best days, and wondering about the existence of God on some other days.  Suffering, of course, was where the rub most often lay.  If God were all powerful, how come things like earthquakes and genocides and pandemic diseases could still happen?  Even after I found my way back to an active practice of my faith, the suffering question often stumped me, in particular after 9/11 and during my mom's long encounter with cancer.  Suffering just sucks, and on my worst days I was pretty angry with God for letting it happen.

In the months after my mom's death, my anger continued to grow, as did my wonderings about God.  One day, a wise priest friend commented that anger is a pretty intimate emotion.  It's kind of hard to be angry with someone you don't believe in.  So I realized that yes, I do believe in God.  And I realized that the God I believe in is a God of love, compassion, justice and mercy.  This was the beginning of a movement in my heart that is hard to put words on.  

On the one hand, my need to understand the "why's"--why does God allow suffering to exist--lessened, as did my understanding of God as a puppet master or grand problem solver (or creator of problems).  On the other hand, my experience of God as being present to me, and to the world, in the midst of the reality of suffering, in the face of the reality of evil, began to grow.  Jesus, the incarnate Word, fully human and fully divine, knows human suffering, lived/lives in it, through it and with us for the sake of the world.  There's a mystery there that I will never understand.  But I can recognize God, more and more, in the small things.  In the friend who came over in the middle of the night to give me a hug the night my mom died.  In the love lived daily by parents the world over for the amazing little people in their care. In the passion for justice that leads people to sacrificial acts for the sake of the marginalized.  When I look for God in the small things, I am overwhelmed by God's love for us.  I can see why Elijah felt the need to hide his face in his cloak.

1 comment:

Bigworld said...

So beautiful, and especially needed with all the ugly behaviour there is in the world today. Thank you!