Letters to Jesus (Similes, Metaphors & Paradoxes)- 7
We strive mightily to understand God; to know God; to imagine God; to fathom the being of God. Our thinking about this, even though we know better, is always touched in some way by the notion that God is “out there” somewhere. So much of what might be called the mythology of God puts God at a distance from us that we even refer to the spiritual life as a journey, as if to get to God we had to traverse a great distance. This notion of a dimensional gap, a space, a chasm, or a grand canyon of distance between us and God, even if we believe differently, pervades our thoughts about God. Yet, someone once wisely explained the paradox of this “distance” by saying that, in reality, the closeness of God is too close to be explained.
Degrees of “closeness” are far more nebulous and difficult to explain than distances to which our imaginations can relate in more measurable terms. But the statement bears contemplation: the closeness of God is too close to be explained. “Too close,” – What does that mean? I think that it’s the closeness that we consider as distance. This is the paradox. We miss by a mile because we look in the wrong places.
If our being is a reflection of the image of God then Socrates’ “know thyself” seems nearer the truth about God. If we indeed ever pause amidst the busyness of life to know ourselves, we will see that the self we know is what keeps God at a distance. It’s the self we don’t know very well that is God within us. He’s that close! He is the image of the self we seldom penetrate, the self which is buried at our core, the true self. He’s that close! But we don’t really know that self very well because we’ve pushed it into a closet and piled lots of junk upon it.
God is at a “distance’ from us because our true self is kept at a distance from us. The characteristic readily identifiable with our flawed human nature is that we create the barrier of a baggage-laden self that we idolize. We become so infatuated with its care and feeding that what is most real about us fades into a mist – and, as that fades, the essence of God in us fades too. Scuttling all our baggage and resting ourselves in the center of our being takes practice, but, in time closes the “distance” and brings knowledge of You.