Begin with a poem.
Leaves fall in the puddle glass
and rain down through cement’s cut
The birds cling to the bark weeping
God hears every prayer
The windows glow upon the dawn
these eyes have smiled in the sun
the winds blows on the river waves in silence
God hears every prayer
Last night when laughter echoed
from the street when somewhere someone loved
felt no guilt reciprocated not towards me forgotten
God hears every prayer
And seagulls whispered to the day and night bickering
the clouds dispersed but gathered again
Here is my soul adrift spinning lost I once thought
God hears every prayer.
This poem is written to emphasize a dichotomy between the small moments that you and I experience vs. what we expect from God: which is answers and those things fundamental to life – happiness, goodness etc. Please don’t deny that you don’t expect anything from God: I expect to live long enough to finish this blog post, while you expect to live long enough to read it.
Perhaps expectation is an uncomfortable way to frame how we desire the gifts of God. What if I frame expectation in terms of how we understand God’s will? “If God wills we will both reach the end of this blog post”
But this assumes several things. The fact that we invoke God’s will implies that we appreciate and love what is extended from and poured into our lives through that will. Which implies that we have an expectation for that will, namely, that the will must be good by virtue of God’s own goodness. If God is good, then the will must be good, and thus we expect the will to direct and guide our lives in light of such goodness. If God contained a good will but did not extend it towards us hapless humans, he could not remain as good. If God used his good will in a wrong way, he could not remain good.
You expect God to preserve you, your family and everything you love. You expect God to lead you in life, and to shower you with meaning. If every goodness in your life were decimated, you once again turn to God expecting him to give you meaning or resolution in the pain, or at least an overwhelming, pain-numbing peace. You expect God to be good. We all do, because to gamble that God could be evil, or even slightly less then good, is too painful for our mortal minds to bear. It contradicts every wrinkle of logical and theological gray matter that the Christian brain contains. Attempt this, however: imagine if God were less then good by a micro-degree, and perhaps you will better understand not only your utter mortality but also your soul’s keen dependence on the goodness of God and the expectation that that goodness will remain at least another second if not for an eternity.
What does this have to do with the poem?
I love nature for how consistently it convinces me that I am human, alive and real. That none of this is a dream. Rain drops on cement, leaves in a puddle, or the way gulls fly and the abundance of light that illuminates the entire sphere reminds me that more goodness remains despite the abundance of evil. I find it difficult to reconcile the tangible, objective nature of organic life, with the idea of an invisible God and His will towards me. To reconcile loving the earth and the bodies that inhabit it, with the intangible, spiritual and eternal parts of humanity and of God. To try to comprehend that God is Spirit yet that He inhabits the physical world, sustaining everything down to its micro-bits, and yet that He understands the soul, speaking in a voice audible to our spirits. To understand that He created every drop of water good. That He energizes the light as shown upon my windows, and that He hears every prayer, understanding the heart of my grievances and joys.
I do not doubt God’s goodness as it extends to every part of creation or that he hears my prayers. But I try to reconcile the invisible, supernatural God and His good, supernatural will as it concerns my soul with the tangible, experiential goodness of my every waking moment in the same way I would hold two magnets and push them together. Some days the magnets click. Other days, they repel each other. On those days, I hold them together as far as they and I can take, not doubting the reality of both simply because they don’t harmonize; neither doubting because both are very real and tangible, yet not understanding the hidden force that won’t reconcile the two.
Despite this, I hold them together.
The poem is purposefully ambiguous in its lack of punctuation because sometimes when I read this poem I read it sarcastically and other times I believe.