I don’t like the word God. There I said it. Please stay with me here. I don’t mean to offend. I am not saying I don’t believe in ‘God’ or that I am not devoted to ‘God’. I want to open a loving conversation about the connotations of this word that often alienate people away from ‘God’. My prayer is that we explore and include different interpretations of the one true Light of ‘God’. To end the separation within our communities in how we perceive ‘God’ and speak about ‘God’.
The word God is not a peaceful and loving conjuring for me. Without going into too much story, the word for me is loaded with negative and painful connotations. Although I’ve tried and tried, I just can’t get past it. Whenever I am in good-intentioned places with good-intentioned people who use the word ‘God’ I do an automatic flip to: Existence, Love, Universe, Mystery, the Divine or Light. These are interchangeable for me. They all give me a sense of connection to the Divine source, to Oneness. I am comforted by the expansive, inclusive and benevolent meanings that are, for me, imbued in these words. I know that’s what the word God means to many people.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet. – Shakespeare
Words have power and deep significance. Sadly this word was used as a threat for me, a punishment, a means of control. Paradoxically it suppressed any creative expression or exploration of the divine joy of my ‘God-self’. By God-self I mean living as a ‘child’ of ‘God’ – an expression of God. It’s taken me many years to unravel the mysteries of my greatest relationship on Earth: the philosophical and experiential journey home to myself … Which for me is a coming home to ‘God’.
I once did a powerful spiritual retreat that took me deep into locked pain and trauma in my body. A physical-journey to find the root blockage and then using radical forgiveness and compassion to release it. It was magical. For the first time in my adult life, I had glimpses of what I innately knew as a baby and small child; when I was still very close to the source of my human creation. A ‘time’ before any false and defensive ‘me’ was formed in order to survive in this world. I blissfully remembered the experience when Trust and Love governed my wide-eyed curiosity of this wonderful, perplexing, contradictory, joyous, painful and curious life on Earth.
Even though I was a novice in the world of self-exploration and self-enquiry, so many painful jigsaw pieces fell into harmonious place. I felt reassured, hopeful. I had an awakening of sorts … the first true ‘conscious’ or cognisant awareness that I was more than my conditioned self. I was much more than the limitations and ideas of myself. I was not just an ego construct. EGO – Eases God Out.
During this ‘awakening’ I felt like a tiny bird in a tiny cage on the edge of the Universe staring back at planet Earth. The cage door had just been opened. I was perched looking into the Mystery of this realm. I was lost but unafraid. The magnitude of this experience was cellular and human, and simultaneously, intergalactic and otherworldly. I wrote the following lines immediately after this process …
Everybody is teaching me to open my heart and let God in
I now know, all I need to do is, open my heart and let God out.
This was a great comfort to me. A catalyst for that inaugural flight, to start the long journey home. For some people the flight is short. The truth is we are already home (with ‘God’ and of ‘God’). It would be more accurate to say, ‘the journey of remembering that we are already home’. But again language trips us up and falls short. The closer we circle towards home the more and more silence will guide us inwards … language will always be of the Mind. It does not mean that we cannot have fun striving to express the inexpressible: Poets try, artists try, musicians try, mothers and fathers try, lovers try … some even get exquisitely close.
I was dead. I came alive. I was tears, I became laughter. All because of Love, my temporal life, from then on changed to eternal. – Rumi
I have struggled with being here on planet Earth. For me, the feeling, because of religious ideology and indoctrination, was that I was ostracised here on Earth and far from ‘God’ and ‘heaven’. I was angry with ‘God’ for taking me so far away from the Light, the Truth of Oneness, The Divine. I have been perplexed and stunted with the endless questions of why have I been exiled here on Earth …
“Why has ‘God’ forsaken me?” There has never been a more sorrowful victim song than this. And yet it has been my ‘reality’; my direct human pain-body experience. It has been my longing, my prayer and sometimes my only connection back to the Divine, a way to stay close to God. I understand the irony of my faith in pleading with a presence that I believe has abandoned me. I am reminded of this powerful poem that always gives me a reality check and a kick out of existential victimhood.
Footprints in the Sand (Original Author Unknown)
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
This poem helps me understand why, at the start of my remembering who I truly am, it is helpful to personify Oneness in the form of ‘God’. I recognise that language is a ladder to the stars … to the infinite mystery. On my continued remembering of who I truly am and in my current state of awareness the poetic statement I wrote after that above process of forgiveness and compassion is no longer true. It feels inauthentic to imagine me letting God in or out, no matter how much it served my old consciousness. Naturally, without that stepping stone I could not write the following statement:
Love is. I am Love. Love is communing with Love.
I recognise that Ego and ‘God’ are opposite sides of the same coin. All concepts that I have of ‘God’ arise from the Mind. The only true resonance as Oneness is when I throw the coin away. I imagine it flying past me, travelling billions of years backwards, and landing in that tiny little birdcage I once knew, at the edge of the Universe. I know that when I am in the direct experience of Love expressing Love, when there is no separation or idea or sense of ‘I’ or ‘Self’, language will dissolve into the infinite explosion of Silence. A silence so full that it contains all sound and light and ‘Truth’ – a truer word will never need to be spoken.
What do you call ‘God’? How is language useful or not useful for you in remembering who you truly are? How is silence for you? Where and how do you commune with ‘God’? Does the mystery and conundrum of life inspire you to find words, music, dance, or any other expression to feel closer to the Mystery?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And also if you have written a poem, a story, a prayer … we’d love to publish it on our wonderful Community Contributions Page.
Much love always,