Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016.01.31 Certain? Yes, I see it. Are you Sure?

I saw two trees where I saw God. I'm sure of it.

Are you sure? Really? How do you know? I saw it! I believe it!

I have a highly intuitive way of knowing things spiritual. What I know is annoyingly unprovable, though I have trusted it all my life.  You see, it’s hard to talk about God using intuition alone to substantiate my knowing. Even a divinely-inspired hunch, is still a subjective hunch, empowering though it may be.  

As I get older I find that, more and more, my senses show me God in direct and immediate ways—ways so blazingly brilliant I dare to call them proof of the existence of the divine surround.

Just yesterday I saw this snow-covered tree at sunset. It was golden!  How could it not be divine, this tree transfigured—all lit up, haloed you could say, like Christ in glory on the mountain of which Christians sing? God for sure, I’m sure.

That same day I'd seen another snow-laden tree that stopped me in my tracks. Small elegant beauty, every branch puffed up in whiteness —another transfiguration. I touched the branch puffy with snow, even clinging on the underside of each branch. Even to my touch the snowy cover didn’t warm or disappear. Real! Our Lady of the Snow Tree, I thought, using religious/biblical language because it’s just the best to express this kind of objective spirituality.

As delighted as I am with my newfound sensory spirituality, I know that what I see, hear, touch, taste and smell, is only divine because I perceive it so. Someone else would say, “What a beautiful tree.”

Martin Smith, author, theologian, Episcopal priest and former monastic, once said, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certitude.” He was quite sure of what he said and so was everyone listening. All of us nodded like bobble-heads. I agree with his wisdom, yet even now as I say it aloud, I protest: But…… I place such faith in those trees. I know they are there. I touch and see them, and in the wind I hear them swish and moan. I’m sure they are true, certain that before my very eyes I have seen God-in-a-tree.

My faith and my certitude have coincided—and neither has lost its acuity.  

One of my favorite hymns (1982 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church, #423, a Welsh hymn with text by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908)  It begins: “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes….”  As the verses swell and the theology evolves it’s clear that the hymn writer begins to understand divine glory to be more accessible, less hidden, less silent, clouded perhaps, yet a source of true life. As the hymn text puts it: “. . .  in all life thou livest, the true life of all . . .”  And in the end, a prayer: “O help us to see ’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.”

 So now I know that I believe because I see— and I see because I believe. Pretty sure.