A friend said this the other day, and I’ve been musing on it ever since: “God’s probably sick of me bugging Him”. Wow.
I was stunned, flummoxed as to where to even begin to answer. Even sitting here, at my desk, drinking Japanese beer and listening to Rachmaninov’s Vespers in the peace and sanctuary of my flat, I can’t think where to begin. But here are some thoughts, in what appears to be fairly random order:
~ You can’t “bug” God. Bugging someone occurs when they’re pushed to the edge of their patience. Things bug me when I come close to the end of my capacity to tolerate them. This is because I have limited emotional resources, as, I think, do most humans. God doesn’t. The Source of love and compassion and empathy and peace cannot possibly run out. The Ground of being doesn’t simply run out of patience. All things exist in God – light and darkness, fear and peace, strength and vulnerability – but the Force of love in the world doesn’t get annoyed.
~ God’s not a big human. I regularly find myself wishing that there was a non-gender-specific pronoun that wasn’t quite as offensive as “it” because talking about God as a “he” (or a “He”) tricks us into seeing God as a big man in the sky. So, for that matter, does the name God. The Manifestation we call “God” is so much more than that: Source, Force, Ground. Creator and Universe. Divine, Sacred. Infinite, Endless. Worrying that we’ll “bug” God into running out of patience is like worrying that we’ll run out of oxygen when we’re standing in an endless field. No matter how much we breathe, air is (I think: the science is a little beyond me) an infinite resource. My breathing doesn’t rob anyone else of life-giving oxygen. How much more infinite is the very Creator of that oxygen?
~ Prayer is so much more than “bugging” God. Even intercessory prayer (which I admit I still don’t quite understand, but I do anyway) seems to me like my fish, Giovanni, upheld and sustained and surrounded by life-giving water – without which he would perish in a matter of painful minutes – asking the water a favour. He can’t help but communicate with the water. He dwells within it. We dwell within the Sacred. One of the many differences between me and Giovanni is that I am aware of this. It doesn’t stop me praying for those people I hold dear; it doesn’t stop me lifting up the suffering of the world in the hope – and faith – that somehow this will make a difference. It doesn’t stop me naming before God those qualities I think I need in my day – peace and patience and compassion – and asking for those. I don’t really understand why I do it. I hope that it makes a difference. But the Endless Source cannot possibly run dry, and I think that the Ground of my being is pretty happy just that I am aware of It, that every atom in my body celebrates that wonderful, miraculous, mysterious connection with the Divine.
~ Whatever we call “God” is big enough, and small enough, to understand our vulnerabilities, to be vulnerable Itself in our vulnerabilities – probably more vulnerable than we are. Whatever we call God is big enough, and small enough, to love us in and through our unlovable-ness. To not be sick of our needs. To love us through our needs, and somehow to open the path in front of us.
And to grant us the great gift of music and Japanese beer.
Disclaimer: I stated that whatever we call “God” – the Force of love in the world – doesn’t get annoyed. Actually, I think I might be wrong. I think that the Most Compassionate One does get annoyed: I think the Source of our being gets very annoyed indeed when we deny the manifestation of the Divine in our fellow human beings and animals. Ahem: Are you reading this, Mr Abbott? Need I mention asylum-seekers…?