By Helen Cahill, O.P.
One of the exciting discoveries in spirituality today is the impact that science is having on our understandings and relationship with the mystery of who God is. Today our journey is shaped not only by the Gospel but also by our understanding of our radically amazing Universe. Because God is mystery we can never grasp who God is other than to say that God is beyond our wildest imagination. However, we do need images to guide us in our search for God.
It is no secret that change is a significant part of our lives. Many of us grew up learning that the Universe was static, stable and predictable. Today we know the Universe to be evolving, alive, unpredictable, intelligent, evolutionary, relational, and interdependent.
How we understand the Universe determines how we understand God. In a static Universe we envision God as a Supreme Being “up there” and far away from the Earth. Between God and human beings there exists a big distance. God is a “Him,” an unchanging God who related to the world as an absolute ruler. As such, He has power over all and controls everything going on in the world. If we want to get to heaven (up there) we have to be perfect and that means figuring out God’s will and doing it.
Even though we know God loves us with unconditional love, His control and power take precedence over God’s love and mercy. The former is deeply embedded in our bones.
Knowing that the Universe is evolving, alive, unpredictable, and intelligent puts pressure on these classical images of God which often continue to dominate our imaginations. When we take the findings of science seriously these images of God no longer fit.
Let me share some current understandings of God that I have gleaned from various sources. They may be helpful to you in opening up new images of God.
God is the love energy at the heart of the Universe unfolding.
God, the Sacred Source of all energy, emerges out of relationships of love.
God is love and God loves us passionately.
God is glorified by creation flourishing in the fullness of its powers.
God lures us, attracts us and persuades us rather than using coercive power over us.
Rather than talking about God as a Supreme Being “up there” we experience God being present to the Universe from within it.
God’s Presence permeates the Universe which pulsates with the Divine Life. Everything is saturated with the sacred.
Life in all its complexity comes radically from God and is sustained to the end by its deep roots in God
God fully participates in the life and sufferings of the world
God holds the chaos, the complexity and messiness of life as well as the beauty and wonder in God’s heart.
Which images of God resonate with your experience of God today?