Sunday, September 12, 2010

Living in the Shadow of God


Today in church, we kicked off a lively conversation around the stories and myths of Genesis.  It's so often in conversation that I find myself falling in love with scripture all over again - the language, the provocation, the strangely familiar humanity of characters.  In our video, a Jewish scholar talked about what it means to be 'made in the image of God.'  She noted the way great artists use shadow - shadow that bears witness to a sometimes hidden and always dynamic other.  'That's what it means,' she said.  'That's what it means for me to be made in the image of God.  That my reality is a shadow of God's.'  She spoke these words reverently, delightedly.

And I like this.  It reminds me of the hugeness of God, the mystery I'll never fully grasp.  I'm made in the image of that mystery, in the shadow of God's immense love.  And in that shadow, I too can create, I too can relate, I too can make love and beauty and social change.  In fact, I'm most human and alive when I dance in that shadow and appreciate the wonder of it.

But I am not God, and God's transcendence rises above and beyond my limitations and perspectives.  And that seems important too.  These great Genesis stories invite my participation, my humility, and my wonder.  But they caution me against my own need to control things, to know all, to figure out the future before it happens.  "God, grant me the serenity," the prayer goes, "to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."  A worthy prayer out here in the shadow of God.