My heresy from Me

I felt tired yesterday. Maybe from a thought of one of the guys in my prayer group. He had lost a child last year, and said he was tired of trying to figure out what or who God was.

I think I understand.

I spend quite of a bit of my time wrestling with God, who God is and what God does. I don't care for the messages coming from the fundamentalists about a judgmental God who "loves" by condemning, and who never has to answer to questions posed by scientists and nosy scholars. And I am unconvinced by my own Church, which has the answers to everything. "Q: Why did God God created us? A: To love him, serve him and to live with him forever in heaven."

I don't know about that.

But I am tired of trying to figure out God. Today, it seems like such a fruitless pursuit.

Which led me to what is, for me, a "heretical" thought: Perhaps the dumbest things that we Catholics did in the 1950s and 1960s is to try to figure out God. We tried to change our Church from the nice, dumb collections of strange rituals, colorful medieval costumes and ancient chants into an exercise that was within the grasp of our intellect. We tried to know what Jesus "really" looked like, to get an accurate picture of his death on the cross, to dig into the gospels to find his real words.

And I'm not sure we have gotten any closer to the mystery that is God. In fact, we have deconstructed two millenia of myth and supposition, to the degree that nothing seems to remain. Our scientists have given us the tools to understand the physical and chemical workings of the Universe, once ascribed to God. Our scholars have shown us that our sacred writings have flaws and inconsistencies incompatible with the idea that they are God-given. Like Job, we sit on the dunghill, upon the wreckage of our past expectations. We have taken apoart the grand machinery of our beliefs, but are not sure how to put it back together. And whether we can.

So, I sometimes long for the days when we did not dream of getting into the soul of the machine. When we just left it alone to churn along, its noisy gears and spinning axles whirring pointlessly. But happily.

Of course, I will come back to my senses. I know that religion's unseeing God machine was at least as destructive to human lives as it was inspiring. But I wonder if something useful can be constructed from the piles of disconnected parts that remain.

For now, I see myself graced by the presence of God as it emerges from the ordinariness of my life. I do not need a priest or a prayer to be blessed. I am blessed by my existence. Even if its source is veiled to me. Yet I see signs of God's love everywhere. In the devotion of a doctor to heal a poor child. In the chance to sympathize with a coworker with eye problems. In a chance encounter with a stranger who read a book review. In delighting at the familiar coarseness of my wife's hair. In an anniversary wish from an African I met ten years ago.

I don't need to beg for a miracle or a sign. I live, I love, and I am loved by a God as distant as the distant quasar but as close as the pesky dragonfly flitting about my deck.