Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013.01.30 God Is Paradox

Karen Armstrong, noted scholar, former nun, and religious historian and theologian, once said in a talk, something like: “Where there is paradox, there is always God."  I thought that seemed true, because my experience is that when two things that don’t easily go together come together to awaken and surprise, it startles me alive. But I wondered why God couldn’t just be straightforward. 

I have found out, by hard experience and plain accident, that whenever I let go of trying to possess God, I find God. For example, I prayed frantically to be ordained, and that God would work on bishops. I was so importunate that I finally heard God say, in sweet exasperation, “Lyn, I don’t care if you’re ordained.” Set me right, and set me free.

Now I am praying with some importunity that I will finish and order my memoir, first, and then that it will get published. One blear day it occurred to my overly conscientious mind that this memoir might be simply another one in a long life-line of achievements I’ve amassed to feed my ambition and esteem.  The thought was so upsetting that I took it to prayer, worrying that I'd turned my spiritual journey, maybe God too, into a notch in my ego's belt. 

And God, when I confessed, said: “So?”

So what, indeed!  God's power is in humility—not control. Sister Wendy Beckett, artist and theologian, says” “Some Gods are worth letting go of.”  The omnipotent God is worth letting go of.  Anglican theologian John MacQuarrie’s metaphor for Divinity is Letting-Be. I love that.

In the beginning of Genesis, God’s choice to create humankind is a self-limiting and paradoxical choice. The Creator God lets go of being God in any traditional sense of that word.  Why?  For the sake of letting-be. God want to be in relationship, more than to control destinies.

I pray for it all anyway, of course, just to keep in touch, as I would with anyone I loved. And always I am strengthened for whatever may come.

We pray for a rescuer and we get a lover.