The 20th century biblical scholar J.B. Philips wrote a book with the title Your God Is Too Small. In it he proceeded to critique all our self-serving images of God – the kind of tribal statements “God is on our side,” as well as the kind of puppeteer God who spends his time manipulating events for this or that purpose. If nothing else, I hope these meditations have helped you develop an image of God appropriate the dimensions and scale of the Universe as we know it today.
On the other hand, how do we avoid creating an image of a Transcendent Reality that is so immense that we are no longer able to see it as caring and loving? Author Paul R. Smith suggests that one way is to reflect on our experience of the Divine in terms of the three grammatical persons “I,” “you,” and “he/she/it.” Reflecting on God from the 3rd person is what we have been doing in these meditations. But we also experience God in the 2nd person as “You”: we do have the experience of something/someone well beyond us engaging in a relationship with us. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber coined the expression “I-Thou” to talk about that special relationship we entertain with the Divine as with a loved one. Finally, Smith dares to suggest that we also experience God as “I” within us, as the source of our consciousness, the source of our empathy and compassion; we acknowledge this when we think of ourselves as being God’s Presence wherever we are and bringing God’s Love to whomever is around us.
Panentheism would claim that “it is all happening in God anyway” – we live in the Divine Milieu, as Teilhard de Chardin suggested; God is the Reality “in whom we live and move and have our being,” as Paul said to the Athenians. If the Universe is God’s self-expression; if the Universe is the “body of God,” as Canadian theologian Sally McFague proposes; then God is infinitely closer to us than our very skin, as well as being infinitely close to every other event in the Universe, no matter how vast. Thus, paradoxically, what we feared would remove God from intimacy with us in fact restores it and makes it inevitable. As Richard Rohr never tires of repeating, God cannot not love us because we are God’s self-expression.
Reflecting over these various meditations on the cosmos, what has changed for you? How has your image of God changed? How has your understanding of prayer changed? How has your understanding of your role – the role of humanity – in the universe changed? Has anything changed in your assessment of the world around you as a result of this stretching of our imagination? What becomes of “worship” for you?
What aspect of these last meditations on the cosmos have been most helpful to you? Least helpful? What questions have these reflections raised for you? What further steps do you plan to take to deal with these questions?
We end with this prayer:
Litany to God
God, You work…
- in the accelerating expansion of the universe
- in the spiralling of galaxies
- in the explosion of supernovas
- in the singularity of black holes
- in the regularity of the Solar System
- in the equilibrium of the Earth’s ecology
- in the evolving of a society
- in the thoughts of an individual
- in corporate and political decisions
- in the functioning of our organs
- in the chemical processes within our body
- in the forces within the atom
- in the “weird” behaviour of quantum particles
- in the “Zero Point Field”, teaming with energy
May I sit in wonder that I live entirely within Your Presence everywhere and in everything and everyone.
If these meditations have been useful to you, you might want to explore the notion of the “Cosmic Christ.”