Common God

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries

                                                 {Elizabeth Barrett Browning}


Last week, Wyatt was exasperated. "Dad, you don't hear lots of things." I protested, but he appealed to Miska for backup. "Mom, dad doesn't hear a lot of things I say, does he?" I'd like to report that Miska, the one to whom I've pledged my life and love, the one who is my very flesh, shut this inquisition down cold. However, Miska is committed to the truth, blast her. My defense – what I wished to say but did not – is this: the reason I might miss miniscule tidbits from Wyatt (here and there, on the rarest of occasions) is because Wyatt says a lot. Wyatt, like his father, is a verbal processor which is to say that words, abundant words, gush from the spigot. Why speak three things when you can speak fifty? 

It's too easy for me to miss Wyatt's voice (which, I'm sad to say, means missing him) because at times it's everywhere. Having grown accustomed to the ubiquitous sound, I tune it out and mentally traipse off to god knows where.

After reading one of the Bible's more electrifying stories (say, the Red Sea opening wide for Israel or Jairus' daughter regaining life), I'm often vexed because I've never experienced anything of the sort. I haven't seen God do this stuff, I worry. So have I ever seen God at all? Hauerwas says that "we [don’t] see reality by just opening our eyes." True enough, but we also won't see reality by keeping our eyes shut. Our vision is off-kilter, and we need to learn how to see clearly. But to see something, we've got to be looking in the first place. 

And if we seek, we shall find. We will find the God who holds the very world together, the one in whom all joy and creative energy and holy silence exist. God's life is pregnant in the delight I encounter with my sons and in the way my imagination expands toward those mysterious mountains I've known so long. God occupies the truths that have grabbed me and refuse to let me go. God rests in the quiet spaces that call me forward and inward. God chuckles in my laughter. God seeps from the pages of my many hardbound companions. God exists in the fierceness that eventually rises against my fears. From one astounding woman, God has spilled copious measures of pleasure and deep knowledge and love, love and more love. 

We miss God, not because God is so hidden but because God is so common. Blackberries are scrumptious — but by God, man, the bush is aflame.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *