Printer Friendly

His genius.


If you are like me, which God forbid such a sorry penance, you find yourself contemplating That or Whom which we call God (for lack of a better label) on a regular basis, and I do not mean church on Sunday. I mean daily, thrice daily, five times daily and twice at night, because you know, down under sense and logic and reason, that there is a Singing, a Breathing, a Mercy beyond accounting under and through all things; and you wish to love and thank Whatever or Whomever this is; and, in fact, if you are honest with yourself, you find that you no longer wish to be granted favors, as you did when you were young, but rather you wish quietly to put your small gifts in harness to Whomever's agenda, because you know now, after 50 years, that it is all about love, and that is why we are here, and life is short, and you had better work as hard as you can for love, which is another word for That or Whom.

You contemplate Him (for lack of a better pronoun) with awe, amusement, fury, gratitude, despair, confusion, applause. You question His existence and His agenda and His goals and objectives. You would very much like to see a copy of His mission statement and detailed future plans, with footnotes and documentation, ideally notarized. You regularly conclude that His ultimate genius is the inarguable seething miracle of creation--He is the greatest Author ever, even better than Flannery O'Connor, whom He, of course, invented--and you admire the fact that only once has He directly claimed authorship of everything that is, when He lost His temper 3,000 years ago and roared WAST THOU THERE WHEN I LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH?! at poor old furunculated Job.

But lately I have been contemplating an even subtler and more devious aspect of His genius: the fact that He adamantly and deftly refuses to appear in public, except by reflection and intimation, and except perhaps somehow, miraculously, in some weird way we poor muddles will never understand, in perfect corporeal and spiritual synchronicity with a thin Judaean carpenter's apprentice a thousand years after He popped a gasket with poor old ragged Job, and roared WHO LAID THE CORNERSTONE THEREOF WHEN THE MORNING STARS SANG TOGETHER?!, and poor Job covered with ash did quake and shiver in the dust, and was silent and agape.

Even in the olden times He did not appear whole and inarguable, but spake from a burning bush, thundering I AM WHO AM at poor Moses, which even now many years after I first heard and read it seems like the coolest tautology ever.

But never did Moses nor Job see Him; and even those thousands of eyes that perceived the thin Judaean, and walked with him on hill and dell, and gazed upon him as he spoke to the multitudes, and saw him dimly weeping in the garden, and contemplated his sagging corpse on the cross, and saw him upon the road to Emmaus, or finally in the room on the second floor with its doors locked and bolted, did not see Whomever, but instead saw a slight brown human being in whom Whomever was resident, or infused, or concomitant; nor did all the millions of people over thousands of years who saw a Light, a Force, a Sign, see Whomever, but rather a flash or hint or messenger from Him; as did the thousands of people who saw and heard the woman once called Miryam, always cloaked in blue and radiant and serene, often smiling, when she appears in woods and hills, and speaks to children and farmers; she is from Him but not Him, or Whatever, or Whomever; words and labels for the Mercy being ever weaker the more we seek after Him, and how to bend our work to His agenda.

Behind the scenes, hidden and elusive, a wild ragged figure flitting from tree to tree, motioning to us, as Flannery O'Connor wrote, but never quite perceptible; how brilliant and subtle, to not be evident and inarguable; what genius! For of course by all sense and reason and logic we must then conclude that there is no God, there has never been God, there cannot be God; in fact the evidence is everywhere against the engine of love and mercy for which we use the word God, as we see from the daily deluge of pain and loss and murder and rape and greed and theft.

So our heads are sure that there is no God; but our hearts are not. They yearn, and psychologists say that we yearn for mother and security; they yearn, and the cocksure say that faith is fiction and religion a childish joke; and yet we yearn.

But if we saw Him clear we would not yearn, and this is genius. If He spoke to us clear, if He laid His starry hand upon our perspirant brows, we would be awed and thrilled, but we would not yearn; and this is genius, that He hideth from us and will not be seen, and so we yearn and doubt, and must cut our own paths through the thickets.

We would not do the work if we thought He would do it for us; and this is genius, that our work is Him.

Suffice it to say that if He appeared before me this minute, at the kitchen table, three feet away, sitting where the youngest son usually sits, as you can tell from the crumbs in little drifts in the tablecloth, I would cover mine old eyes, behind their glittering spectacles, and ask Him politely to be gone, and again be a terrible and generous mystery, the most extraordinary Absence I can imagine; and this is His genius, which I sing this morning, covered with bread crumbs, silent and agape, as the stars sing together, and the coffee is almost ready; and so amen. USC

Brian Doyle is most recently the author of a collection of 'proems' called A Shimmer of Something, from Liturgical Press.
COPYRIGHT 2014 Claretian Publications
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:contemplating God
Author:Doyle, Brian
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 2014
Previous Article:The art of losing.
Next Article:The Sacred Heart.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters