A Confusion of Images


Pillars of Creation: NASA (http://hubblesite.org/image/3474/category/33-emission-nebulae)

Just like a deer that craves streams of water, my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see God’s face?[d]
My tears have been my food both day and night,
as people constantly questioned me,
“Where’s your God now?”
Psalm 42:1-3  [CEB]



Do I really long for God in such a passionate way? Is the collision of images that taunt me really God’s eternal disturbance of me [Karl Barth]?  The conventional picture of God the Supreme Ruler of the universe, Creator of all things is being disturbed by Gordon Kaufman’s counter-picture of God as serendipitous creativity. And then there is the Hubble Telescope’s beautiful image of the gaseous nebula called “the Pillars of Creation” where stars are still being formed.

God (or, at least, the predominant images of the conventional doctrinal, dogmatic God present in the church) contracts my horizons… restricting contributions to the well-being of all in society; shrinking rather than expanding the human spirit; booking me on flights to places that do not exist or to which I do not wish to go.

The Pillars of Creation draw me to vastly expanded horizons, take me to places beyond my reach / beyond my vision; open new possibilities and invite me to explore all that is possible—out there and in here.

One of the Pillars (one part of the gaseous nebula) presents as insistence and mystery which comes in the name of God. Perhaps! That insistence, that nudge, that call, that disturbance, that irruption draws me toward impossibility possibilities—life from death; community out of singularity; companionship instead of stark individuality; the common infused with mystery; and the exploration of compassion, peace, and tender justice as the normalcy of civilization.

So, here I am, here and now—horizons expanding, horizons contracting. Here I am, with visions of sugar plums (make that visions of God) dancing in my head. Here I am, enlightened and warmed by a star that had its birth in a gaseous nebula some billions of years ago. Here I am trying to make sense out of life—life that has persisted and evolved whether sense had been made or not.  Here I am—in humble arrogance and arrogant humility—casting my gaze on the Pillars of Creation and creating a constellation of meaning (Perhaps!) And life goes on as it has before me and as it will after me. That is awesome and humbling and wondrous and ordinary. Is that all there is, my friend? Well, that’s life! For me, that’s plenty!

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