God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31
Over the past year I have been conducting interviews for a painting series I will be starting soon. The interview questions explore the ways in which people of faith understand the divine. I have had the joy of hearing people from many different backgrounds explain who and what God is to them. The most common thread that I observe, like a holy, golden life-giving mycelia, is the connection that the divine has with humanity. No matter the faith tradition, I see that people cannot understand God without looking through the lens of humanity and the human experience. This rings true for those who have both a negative and a positive understanding of the divine.
Do we not use human metaphors to understand God? God the Father, God the Shepherd, God the Mother and giver of life, King Jesus; the list goes on. And why would we not use these human metaphors? They give us an intimate understanding of a God that is otherwise too huge and complex to even try to understand.
The most powerful tool that we have for understanding God is each other. Each of us, who was created in the image of God can reflect the divine attributes of God.
I have spend many years of my life deep in spiritual frustration. I wanted so badly to be one of those people who could stand up in church and talk about hearing God’s voice clearly, about knowing exactly what do do because God told them. After so many years of trying to do Christianity the “right” way and still never discerning that voice I so longed to hear I got frustrated. I took sporadic breaks from church and prayer. I threw quite a few choice words at the sky as I shook my fist in frustration. I just wanted to see God, to hear God.
As Christians, we believe that we are all created in the image of God. I am an artist, a painter. It brings me such joy when someone who knows me can pick one of my pieces out of a sea of paintings. I have developed a bit of a style, such that when others with a trained eye look at my art, they know whose hand created it. Part of me is in all that I create.
Such is the relationship between God and humanity. I learned to see the love of God through my Mother, the passion of God through my Father. Every time I gain insight into the divine, it is through the relationships I have with other creations of God.
In those moments when I cease to see all others as divine and beloved, when I let my prejudices get in the way of loving others well, those are the moments when I am the most separated from the divine. There is no way to love God if we cannot first love the ones who were created in the image of God.
Reflect: Which aspects of God do you see reflected in others? In what ways are you the living embodiment of God to those around you? With which people do you have a hard a difficult time seeing the divine and recognizing the image of God? Do you find that you have a hard time loving those who reflect something difficult to accept about yourself?
Prayer: Creator of all, giver of live, help us to see and emanate these life-giving qualities that you are. May we see your divine reflection in all of your creation and may we love it as we try to love you.