What God is Like

When people ask me, “What is God like?”

I often answer
God is like a shepherd
tending to the flock
leading me to still waters

Or I say that
God is like a rock
grounding all being
securing me through storm and sun alike

But lately I’ve come to think that
God is like a mother’s womb
birthing in pain a new creation
bleeding to give life with the cycles of the moon

Perhaps I should elaborate:
God is like a mother’s womb
stretching to hold a crying world and
feeding the hungry with divine placenta

In our scriptures, I hear how
God is like a mother’s womb
delivering people from and through blood
bearing justice for the sake of God’s name

In this world’s stories, I know that
God is like a mother’s womb
carrying the indignation of creation’s rape
braving to bear life to the weak

In my own life, I see how
God is like a mother’s womb
shaping my name and my ability to live
pushing me through the canal to be an agent of life

Finally and foremost, I believe that
God is like a mother’s womb
protecting jealously all of God’s children and
loving life above all pain.

(You can also read this poem within a longer post — entitled “Statement of Faith” — on my blog in July 2008.)

Primordial Mud (Matthew 6:25-34)

Worried? Run your fingers through the dark, stank mud. I grew the plants that formed that mud with the sun’s rays and the cooling rains. I will be there when this summer’s grasses wither and fade into the bay waters. Can you add a day to the life of the grass? Can you deepen the layers of ancient earth? Ah, but touch the mud and feel the life of thousands of years…and be at peace.

Anxious? Rake the wet sand with your toes and feel the ocean water seep up under your feet. I remember the oysters and clams and crabs that lived in the depths before their shells rolled in the waves and became the grains on which you stand. I know the turn of the tides and the movement of the coastlines. Let your fears wash out with the waves and ground yourself in the sifting sands.

Tired? Watch the snowy egret standing patiently in the water. Consider how it rises with broad strokes of its wings and settles, gently, only a few yards away. When did you last take your time, look carefully, sit still, move calmly, like the egret? Its meal will be found, its roost will be taken, and when its time ends, the egret too will be part of the primordial mud that nurtures the grass and feeds the crab.

So find your solace in the Maker of Mud. Tell your worries to the Storyteller of Oceans. Sleep and work and live under the same Eye that keeps watch over the egret. Let today be enough for today. Let God be enough for all times.

The Lover

I invite you to let your mind and spirit rest, and listen for the voice of God reaching out to you through the voice of the Lover, the Shulammite, in Song of Songs. If you were sitting in the pews at Grace Church on Sunday, I would’ve invited you to close your eyes to let God’s words of love sink in; for the blog, I encourage you to keep your eyes open but step away from nearby distractions so that your soul can be still to hear God singing to you with deep love:

How beautiful you are, my darling, my desire, my dream!
How incredible it is to know you!
I think about you each night when the sun sets;
like an anxious mother or like one who is captivated by love,
I stay awake to watch you sleep.
And when dawn comes, I want every ray of light
and the full spectrum of bursting colors
to reflect my love for you.

How beautiful you are, my friend, my companion, my soul’s satisfaction!
How I pray over you and whisper blessings for you each day!
When your steps take you away from me,
I would move mountains to bring you near again!
I would build new roads if you would take them;
I would send messengers and flowers and exquisite gifts
if those things would endear you to me.

Oh! How anxious and impatient I am!
I am like a teenager in love — every thought is overwhelmed with you
and I cannot wait to see you.
I burn quickly with rage with you jilt me,
and I am tired of the ways in which you keep me on the side:
set on the shelf as decor or a household idol,
or worse, draped over your elbow like eye candy
meant to impress, not to love.

The very stars fade before my anger when your mouth says “love”
but your actions in the world say “indifference” and even “hate.”
If I were a steak knife, I would carve my heart
away from its attachment to yours;
if I were a surgeon, I would remove the cancer of narcissism
from within you and sew myself into you in its place,
so that my love would be your love,
so that I could hold you closer than any lover can hold you.

Then you smile at me, and I am swept away again.
I am yours, you are mine, we are intimately bound,
no matter the paths you take or the words you say.

How beautiful you are, my soul mate, my beloved, my spirit’s reflection.
You are altogether beautiful!
You stole my heart at your first breath;
you are knit together like a work of art!
Your life, your adoration, your daily labor delights me!
I am fascinated to watch you work and play;
my spirit goes with you at each step
to inspire all that you do!

When your day has been long,
let my bosom be your pillow.
When life overwhelms you,
let my spirit be your peace.
When relationships strain and break,
let my heart break instead of yours so that you can rest.

If I were a knight in shining armor, I would take on the world
so that love could be perfected;
I would be ruthless against everything that diminishes life:
from the stress of dividing yourself to be everything for everyone
to the cruelties of hunger and war and rejection,
all that kills and starves and impedes life
as far as my eye can see.
Even now I am mounting up to wipe them out
so that the beauty of my love is not overshadowed
by the violence between brothers and sisters, or
the ugliness of fake & commercial glamour.

Come, my love. Do not be afraid. Let us love one another
without reservation, without disguise.
Eat this fruit, drink deeply of the clear-running stream,
lay peacefully in my garden
while I call the four winds to consecrate our love
and make us one
so that my love will be always in you;
and when the gods ask me about you, I will say to them simply,
“This is my beloved and this is my friend.”

Burn my love like a wax seal on your heart;
tattoo my name on your arm
and know that my love for you will outlast the tattoo’s ink;
my love will continue far beyond death.
The sun does not burn brighter,
the galaxies are not more expansive
than my passion for you
as I dwell within you.
No expense is too great,
no payment sufficient
to remove my love from you.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, my desire, my dream!
Every cell in your body is a marvel,
every breath filling your lungs gives me the chills.
Make haste and come near to me!
We will love each other across mountains and in villages,
in the fields and through the vineyards.
We will go together to the ends of the earth,
even to the depths of the deepest of seas,
and my love will not leave you.

The time for singing has come!
The flowers are blooming,
the fruit trees are heavy with ripe fruits,
the air is full of fragrance like a new spring day.
This is our season — this is my season to love you —
and I promise: it is a season that will not end.

Come with me, before I faint with love.
Abide with me — live with me;
be my beloved and my delight. Let me live in you.
You will be mine; I will be yours.
Your beloved.
Always.

Monday Morning Witness

To the east and the west,
from the north to the south, call out:

“This is the day that the LORD has made!”

To the elephant and the heron,
to the armadillo and the tiger, raise your witness:

“This is the beauty that GOD has breathed to life!”

To the mountains and the seven seas,
toward the rainforests and the canyons, gesture your embrace:

“This is the holiness of the HOLY here before my eyes!”

To the war zones and the sanctuaries,
from the suburbs and the flood regions alike, bleed for your connectedness:

“This world and her people are one,
in the image of the ONE GOD!”

And may we so live!