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Who is God?

A byproduct of living a long life is I have come to accept the coming and going of faith. I have accepted that part of the essence of believing is to sometimes doubt and not believe. Like many of life’s bigger questions, when I gave up the struggle, the journey became more interesting. And the times of doubt become less frequent and less powerful.

With this faith journey, God continues to reveal to me who I need God to be during different periods of my life. As a young boy, I had an intuitive belief and a peace whenever I sat in a church. As a young adult, I went through a number of years where I decided I didn’t need God. Then, misuse of alcohol and other substances led me to the Twelve Steps, which gently brought me back to God. This gift gave me freedom to decide who God was for me. During this period of rediscovery, the book Joshua, by Joseph Girzone, a parable of Jesus coming to a small town, made Jesus very real for me. Jesus for that time became my God.

Involvement with a contemplative center led me to more silence and being with God in the quiet and discernment of small group meditation and prayer. A difficult period of big change led me to a Unity church that attended to emotional and spiritual healing. There I heard about Father/Mother God and was drawn to the notion of a feminine God who cared for me.

Recently I have found myself gravitating again to the notion of God as mother. A monthly book of short meditations based on Julian of Norwich’s writings moved me beyond the idea of Father/Mother God. Julian writes about Jesus as Mother. She takes the best of motherly qualities and is certain that if Jesus were God, then Jesus was Mother Jesus also.

On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few years ago, the minister leading the tour group commented in passing: “If you feel really stuck with something, pray to Mary.” This seemed an odd comment to me. Like many whose faith got shaped by the 60’s, I thought the rosary and Mary were for my grandparents and their friends. Why was this minister talking about Mary?

Despite my skepticism, I found myself praying to Mary. As I did, I recalled talking with a friend about a difficult life decision. I didn’t know it but she was dying of cancer at age 35. She listened and responded: “Sometimes you just have to let it be.”

I recall her often in connection with the Beatles delightful lyrics: “Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” Praying to Mother Mary became another route for me to God.

More recently, Franciscan writer and activist Richard Rohr has echoed the notion of Jesus as Mother in his daily meditations. Like St. Francis, founder of his order and his spiritual father, Rohr believes we are “oned” with all and with God through the Incarnation of Jesus. When God became man through Mary, man became one with God. Jesus is the mother who made this transformation possible. Thus, Jesus is our spiritual mother.

This notion of God as mother led me to a wider notion of God. One morning I was talking with a friend and explained: “It has just occurred to me that if God or Jesus are perfect mother, God is also perfect father, mother, brother sister, friend. This means I have access at any time to a perfect father, mother, brother, sister, and friend. Such a perfect being must be perfect love. If I am sought and loved so deeply and eternally by perfect love, then what is there to fear?”

These ah-ha moments are wonderful and tempting. I want to freeze the moment and the notion of that particular God and hang out there eternally.

Julian of Norwich, Richard Rohr, Howard Thurman and countless other spiritual teachers remind me of two important lessons about my relationship with God: 1) my relationship with God will continue to evolve and change, and 2) I share a relationship with God with everyone else on the planet. I need community and the giving and receiving of love through generous use of our talents to be fully one with God. God and I are both cheated if it is just the two of us.

I am sure my notion of who God is will continue to change. And I am equally certain that trusting a loving God who is perfect father, mother, brother, sister and friend will continue to help me be open to this amazing and abundant gift of love. After all, the restless hunger and longing is an inescapable part of the human experience. We as mortals cannot fill that void alone. We need something bigger. Some call that bigger power God; others use Holy One, Big Spirit, Universe, and many other names. Some reject this notion and seek answers on their own and put their faith in the intellect. We all end up wondering about the purpose of pain and how we best give and receive love. And in that wondering, in my experience, we find God moment by moment.

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Barbara HerrJan ReashJohn Peter GiuntaDarlene TuckerTom Adams Recent comment authors
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Mary Lou Judd Carpenter
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Mary Lou Judd Carpenter

Thomas Adams’ reflection on the many “faces” of God was helpful and illuminating for me. Thank you.

Mary Lou Judd Carpenter
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Mary Lou Judd Carpenter

Thomas Adam’s reflection on the many faces of God was illuminating and helpful for me. Thank you.

Tom Adams
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Tom Adams

Thanks Mary Lou, glad you enjoyed it. Peace, Tom

Darlene Tucker
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Darlene Tucker

Beautifully put, Tom. Julian and Richard are helping many of us in this unsettled time. God is who we need, how we need in our lives-all and more!
Blessings, Darlene

John Peter Giunta
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John Peter Giunta

I appreciate this very much. I feel that God is a force, not a personality, nor does God have a gender. I believe that God made science, therefore all descriptions of God or a god must be in alignment with scientific ideas. This has become easier because of the advent of quantum mechanics. If God is the creator of all that exists, then God is known to all intelligent Beings everywhere. If God is this powerful, then this God does not need anything, as humans understand ‘need’. God does not “need” love, God does not want, because if God “wants”… Read more »

Jan Reash
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Jan Reash

And sometimes God just comes in the form of our Life…..Thanks for your thoughtful commentary.

Barbara Herr
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Barbara Herr

This was a stellar treatise and has caused me to ponder the nature of God in a broader way. I will also follow your lead and pray to Mother Mary more. Thank you….