Every Monday this month, I’ve looked at various aspects of the sacred and invited you to redefine them for yourself. Because you can. Because you must. Because the sacred is you, you know. The real, holy you. And you matter. A lot.
As I’ve said in each post, the word “sacred” itself conjures all kinds of thoughts, ideas, and meanings. Sometimes these are good, rich, and beautiful; other times, not so much. I’m committed to the former. Even more, I’m committed to healing the latter, to redefining the sacred. You get to make it your own, to imbue meaning into any and everything that helps you discover the sacred within. And that – the sacred within – is the most divine thing you could possibly do.
Thus far, we’ve considered liturgy, prayer, text, and community. And today? Well, I’ve definitely save the biggest topic for last: God.
For most of us, the word sacred itself conjures some thought of God.
- Perhaps you associate this with a positive set of adjectives, ideas, beliefs, experiences, and memories.
- Perhaps not.
- Perhaps your experience or understanding of God is one you’ve worked hard to redefine and redeem (on your own terms).
- Perhaps you’ve walked away from all you were taught and have chosen to not reconstruct anything in its place.
- Perhaps you’ve never learned of God in any formal way, but have always known that some greater power or force or energy existed; you just knew, no one had to tell you.
- Perhaps you’ve known God by another name, by many names.
Whichever “perhaps” is yours or combination thereof, we can agree that it’s a complicated word, a complicated concept, and highly diverse.
As I grew up, in the way that I grew up, a diversity of understanding or experience was suspect. There was only one God and only one way in which “He” was to be understood and all others were misguided, at best, dangerous, at worst. We could only hope and pray that any who followed anything (or anyone) other would someday find their way to the truth.
As I grew up, my understanding of God changed. It continues to – for which I am profoundly grateful. The sacred (on my terms) is hardly static, but ever-evolving, ever-shifting, ever-growing, ever-transforming itself…and me.
- My grown-up understanding of God allows, welcomes, and encourages a diversity of experience, naming, theology, and expression.
- My grown up understanding of God recognizes that any attempt to define the Divine is mere folly and in and of itself delimits the very God I might try to comprehend.
- My grown-up understanding of God encourages any form and comprehension of such because it realizes that if God is real, if God exists, if God actually is, then God’s very self is quite capable of managing a myriad of forms, thank you very much, and hardly needs my opinion or dogmatic stance.
- My grown up understanding of God has let go of a Deity that deals in judgment, retribution, or shame.
- My grown-up understanding of God realizes increasingly that God cannot be understood at all, only experienced, trusted, believed in, doubted, denied, and sometimes all of the above simultaneously!
- And my grown-up understanding of God doesn’t have to be anything like yours.
I ran a quick search on Amazon in the “books” category with the word God. 481,502 entries exist – which is just the tip of the iceberg, given that the number is merely reflective of those with “God” in the title. I point this out because what I have articulated above is hardly exhaustive, hardly conclusive, hardly anything at all in the context of the Divine. As it should be.
Defining God is a paradox.
Any God worth believing in far-exceeds definition. So I prefer to remain confused, lost in mystery, ever-asking questions, pushing boundaries, risking sacrilege (which I don’t actually worry about at all), being dangerous (which I am completely fine with), and leaning-leaning-leaning into my desire.
Because the God I want to believe in is the God who believes in me. And when I encounter that God, I have come full circle – back to the myself which, if you’ve been following along, is the sacred.
Believe me: your experience and expression of the sacred on your own terms will be profoundly enhanced and exponentially more expansive when you decide for you what, how, and even who the Divine is – and isn’t.
The decision is yours. The choice is yours. And you can change your mind as you wish.
You have permission!
So…do exactly this!
Carve out some time this week to create a couple of lists. No pressure. Nothing taxing or difficult or even required. Again, just curiosity and grace and kindness. On the first list write out everything that comes to mind when you hear the word God. No editing. No censoring. No holding back. On the second list write out every good quality, characteristic, and/or experience that you most deeply respect, even desire. Again, no holding back. Where do the two lists overlap? (It’s possible that your answer is “nowhere!”) Where do they diverge? Now, consider a God who looks and feels far more like the second list than the first. If that list described God, what would your belief look like? What would your faith feel like? How would your trust be strengthened and made manifest? What would the sacred now mean? Who would you now be? Mmmmm. Exactly.
May you always remember the Beloved is your divine and sacred self. ~ Earthschool Harmony
One more time:
Reclaim the sacred for yourself – on your own terms, in your own ways, through your own lens, on behalf of your own experience. Because you can. Because you must. Because the sacred is you, you know. The real, holy you. And you matter. A lot.
I hope you’ve found this series of posts helpful. It has been helpful for me to write – just sifting and sorting through a number of things that dwell and wander in my mind; things that gain more clarity when articulated. I hope it has invited you to an awareness of what you do believe, what is sacred for you. And I hope it has called you to self-definition and self-reclamation of all of the things I’ve written of – and on YOUR terms: prayer, liturgy, text, community, and God. If there are ways in which we can continue this conversation…and have other, ongoing ones about any/all things that matter most to you, that is my deepest desire and hope. Learn more about SacredConversations.