Wednesday, October 04, 2006

by any other name?


There’s been a slight bit of discomfort lately – not really mental, not really emotional, just kinda there. I noticed it Monday when I was posting about the heart opener in the Kest class. I noticed it last night when Brian asked me to do our mealtime prayer. And I noticed it again this morning.

The fact is that I’m uncomfortable with the word “God.”

I have no problem with other people using it. Doesn’t bother me at all. I understand what they’re talking about and it’s perfectly clear to me. I think I have come to associate the word “God” with the idea of “higher power.” But to me, God doesn’t just mean “higher power” – it also means the strength of the low places, in caves and valleys and rivers – the ones we see in the land and the ones we hold in our hearts. “Higher power” implies a hierarchy, not to mention the glorification of “power.” Neither of those concepts has ever had a solid place in my understanding of Reality. Whatever that is. So “higher power” doesn’t capture my sense of God, either. Plus it lacks poetry. Plus, I’ve never believed in using two words when one would do.

This why I’m not a fan of the name “power yoga.” Doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me in terms of my own practice. Anyway.

So here I am, settling in with the word “God.” And I suppose the image that comes up, of the old man with the long white beard and robe, isn’t such a bad start, especially when my first free-association is with Albus Dumbledore.

But still, it’s just so restrictive in my head. It’s inadequate. I shy away from the word because I feel like it’s been appropriated by others. In the end, that avoidance has limited my own ability to jump back into the elemental flow of energy that creates us, destroys us, and transforms us at the same time.

God, for me, is not just every Thing. It’s also the space between things, the magic of connection, where the artist and the audience come together, where earth meets water and fire meets air. It’s subatomic. It’s elemental. It’s invisible and right there in front of us at the same time.

But it’s the disconnects, too – absence, hunger, longing, disease, cruelty – all those states of being we abhor and turn away from. But these states, while being painful and hurtful on so many levels, have also the potential for connection. Which I also have to honor in my devotions, no matter how damned difficult it is.

But by not being able to name this enormous, infinitesimal concept in my own head, I think I’m limiting my own relationship with it. My brain is not advanced enough to develop a deeper understanding of something without using a name to invoke it. Or maybe my brain is too advanced. I don’t know.

When Duckie first started to really talk, people would try to teach her to say, “I love you.” She didn’t get it. The concept just never occurred to her. It seemed to me like asking a fish to describe water. Duckie has always been surrounded by love - even when we weren’t exactly getting along well together, even when I was at my worst as a mother. She swam through love; it was her element, her support, her emotional oxygen.

So it’s only been lately that she’s kinda gotten the idea of naming this concept. I didn’t mind waiting. I figured she would get it eventually. I misliked the idea of asking her to name something without understanding it – it always struck me as contrived. Expressions of love should never, in my opinion, be forced or manufactured.

A couple of weeks ago at some strange hour of the night, she crept into our bedroom, patted me awake, and said, “I love you, Mommy.” It wasn’t a terribly awful way to wake up, you know? I pulled her into bed, hugged her close, and we fell back to sleep in a matter of seconds.

This morning before we left for school, we indulged in a brief morning cuddle. She tucked her head into my neck, sighed deeply, and relaxed into my chest. Blond hair soft under my hands, round face relaxed and expressionless. Swimming, again, in love.

For a long moment it didn’t seem quite real to me. God, I thought as we rocked gently back and forth, if this is a dream, I thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart.

So I think maybe using “God” as a form of address to the entirety of existence is just going to have to do. There’s too much magic in my life to forget gratitude simply because I don’t have an address for the thank-you card.


1 comment:

Yogamum said...