And after the fire, a still small voice

Monday, 24 August 2009

There is a fly buzzing around my head. A fly at the end of August. It is going to be a long, hot summer. I am dribbling at the return of the light (my pwecious) but sinking in my stomach at the return of the psychotic heat. The other evening in bed before sleep I spontaneously began praying for all of those who will die in this summer's fires. I prayed that somehow, somewhere, they will portentously know and understand and listen to the gut feelings and leave. To that still, small voice.

But perhaps it's not all that cut and dried. Perhaps God does not always warn people in advance of horrid awful things happening. Perhaps he does all the time and it is simply a demonstration of how difficult it is for us to tune ourselves into him and believe what she says. I am often baffled at God's intervention or lack thereof in things these days. I have done my fair share of tearful bellowing regarding his seeming departure.

I read yesterday about a man who believed that a tornado that ripped through a town where his Lutheran denomination was having a conference about whether being a practising gay person disqualifies you from the ministry (I say they should thank their blessings that there is something that *does* disqualify them from taking such a stupid route, but I opinionate in my digression ;)

In the past three days, I have told two people of my desire to move to the Dandenong Ranges. One was a nice but know-it-all woman on the train who struck up a conversation with me (the train has suddenly become my greatest social hub) and my mother, both who expressed concern at desiring to move somewhere that is surely going to not exist in several years time when it's burnt to the ground.

Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps they are right. I did go through the past summer travelling to Mount Dandenong seeing Maggie on high alert, ready any time the call came via the phone up the mountain from friends to evacuate. They had to do so, several times.

And yet still, there is something that compels me about the idea. The place draws me, all those trees. Wisha wisha. I think also it is the idea of friends phoning each other up the mountain. And it is true that the Dandenong Ranges have a higher than normal concentration of fruit loopy, slightly eccentric, off-centre, artistic type people. My kind of people, you know? :)

I cannot sit with "weather as punishment" conception of God and yet I do not then know what I think. Does God never intervene ever? And does he never intervene with awful things, with the ground opening up and swallowing people? And even more baffling sometimes, the lack of intervention when children's innocence is molested and people are knifed down in the street because they happen to be "curryheads"? Is the intervention these days through us? Is this what this era of is about? About people being God for each other? Perhaps it is. No handwriting on the wall, just the voice that's in us all. Being God for each other in the midst of imperfectioin all around, threatening to swallow us alive. Such a total bloody mess at times.

I really am not so sure what I think about a whole lot of things as they relate to God. And that's okay. He seems more strange and Other the more I get to know him (and yet, and yet, deep down inside the connection goes on, in my spirit, you know? The connection that is so close that sometimes I do not know where I end and God begins, as if we are made out of the same sort of stuff.)

And this is the taste of God that I know for myself, that which lives inside of me. And yet who is this who I have to reckon with? Is it the God of love who will stop at nothing to grow up his children, his own children, all of them? Even if it means the pain of suffering that we endure in this life? The horrible, awful things that happen to people that leave you scratching your head with the curses in your mouth? Is it the conformist God of past centuries of Christianity, waiting to bash people with a big stick to keep them in line? I cannot come at such a small god anymore, he reeks of the worst of humanity. In-between those two is a giant chasm and millions of people have fallen into it. I cannot give up the thought for long, the long, cool, watery thought that love follows down to the end, and never gives up. It's what it says in that collection of letters and documents written by 66 different people and which I struggle with so.

It says it, most clearly. God is love. Jesus screams it, does it not? Screams it from a cross, for crying out loud. And yet those verses, some of them, seemingly completely contradictory. And it drives me mad sometimes because I suspect, and sometimes I know, that, like watching a 3D movie, if I put on the glasses I would see it all clear. My sight is vastly nothing like 20/20 vision. And I am stuck inside my own perceptions and my own humanity and I cannot see the Other as he is. And I want to. I want to.

Pic by Briannaorg


  1. Hey Sue,

    I'm not sure what I think about alot of things as it relates to God either. The way I understand God's common grace is that I don't deserve it and God is therefore under no obligation to give it to me. I don't think that God owes His creation anything. I cannot deserve as a non-being to be created and placed on this earth and have all my needs met by God. As I see it He's the Creator and I'm the creature. He has rights and prerogatives that I don't have. If God witholds His common grace from me He does nothing wrong. He's not evil by allowing terrible things to happen to me even if I don't understand why He allows them to happen. He owes me nothing. I can't fully comprehend the infinite ways of God. I know that He will and does bring good things out of the evil things that happen to me.

    I see God as being in a different category than His creation. He's the Other. There are ways that I am like God and ways that I'm not. When I try to be like God in every way possible it leads to pride and arrogance.


    God is self-sufficient I'm not
    God is all-knowing I'm not
    God is perfect I'm not
    God is infinite I'm not
    God is all-powerful I'm not
    God is everywhere at once I'm not
    God is unlimited in understanding I'm not

    I am humbled in believing that there is a God and I'm not like Him in everyway.

  2. Hmm...I want to too....

    Bu as Paul said in one of his letters in that collection... we see in a darken mirror - a clouded looking glass...flashes, glimpses....sigh.

  3. me too:

    - I'm already dreading summer

    - have done my share of tearful bellowing in the past couple of years

    - find left of mainstream folk to be my tribe :)

    moving through the questions, not getting hung up on them, tis a healthy thing

  4. Cole - hey, dude. Hmmm, I understand where you are coming from but I don't see it that way myself. I mean, a parent doesn't owe their child anything either but they will do everything in their power to see that that child is safe and warm and secure. I believe, despite the evidence to the contrary - and this is where the tension is for me - that Love is even greater than that. But yeah, I agree with you in the sense that we aren't necessarily entitled to an easy life. God sure is different and weird in that way, that's for sure :)

    Yeah, I can definitely sit with you in the humility of God as Other. It's sort of exhilarating in a way. Like a big Christmas present yet to be unwrapped, just bit by bit as we go.

    KG - yeah, sigh is about it. Some days I've just had enough and want him to rip apart the whatever and come on down or in or over or whatever the heck he will do. But maybe we would spontaneously combust from the face-to-faceness, heh :)

    Kel - yeah, that sounds like a good place to be in, going with the questions but not impaling themselves on them. They do seem to come in cycles, these questoins, especially when bad things happen.

  5. Hey Sue,

    I don't think your analogy of parent-child holds because I believe God is in a different category than we are. It's like a categorical mistake to place God in the same category as us. Well it is for me anyway because I believe God is different than His creation. Her ways are infinitly higher than our ways and and Her thoughts are infinitely higher than our thoughts.


    Good discussion. I hope all is well with you.

  6. Indeed. And as a parent's ways are infinitely higher than the child's ways, so are God's ways higher than ours. And God calls himself our father throughout the Christian scriptures. I think it is a rock-solid comparison :) We shall just have to disagree :)

  7. Hey Sue,

    I guess we will have to disagree. I don't go by the Bible anymore. :)

    Although I still believe in God.

  8. I understand, dude :) The Bible is a pain in the arse to lug around heh :) I think at this point in time the way it is translated by Christianism conceals more than it reveals.

    Following God just by him/herself is freedom :)

  9. Yep. The Bible is a pain.

    I've been looking into "nature mysticism"

    There's alot that I relate to in their experiences.

    For instance Bede Griffiths tells one of his experiences:

    Now I was suddenly made aware of another world of beauty and mystery such as I had never imagined to exist, except in poetry...I experienced an overwhelming emotion in the presence of nature, especially at evening. It began to wear a kind of sacramental character for me. I approached it with a sense of almost religious awe, and in the hush which comes before sunset, I felt again the presence of an unfathomable mystery. The song of the birds, the shapes of the trees, the colors of the sunset, were so many signs of this presence, which seemed to be drawing me to itself.

    I know exactly what he's talking about. I've experienced the exact same thing. Anyway, good talking to you Sue!

  10. Oh, yes. And what a beautiful way of describing it!


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