How to experience God today in a situation of crisis
The present present times are so politically afflicted that we are psychologically altered. Seeing no path forward, walking blind, adrift like a rudderless ship, extinguishes our spark to live. We wind up forgetting what is essential.
Those who read my last article, Can present day Brazil be fixed?, find the background there for this refection on God. In moments like this, without being pietistic, we turn towards the Fountain that has always nourished humanity. Especially in somber times of generalized crises, we feel a longing for God. We wait for His light. And even more: amidst the turbulence, we want to experience God, and to feel Him in our hearts.
Examining history, we see that humanity has always wondered about the Ultimate Reality. Humanity realized that it could not quench its infinite thirst without finding something infinite that was adequate for the thirst. Humanity could not explain the greatness of the universe and our own existence, without that which is conventionally called God, even though It has thousands of names in different cultures. Today, in secular language, drawn from the new cosmology, we speak of the «Original Fountain whence all beings come».
In spite of this tireless search, the universal testimony is that “no one has ever seen God” (1 Jn 4,12). Moses begged to see the glory of God, but God told him: “You can not see my face because no one can see Me and continue living” (Ex 33, 20). Even if we cannot see Him, we can identify signs of His presence. To that end, it is enough to pay attention and open ourselves to the sensibility of the heart.
the testimony of a Cherokee impressed me. He spoke of someone who desperately sought God, but did not heed the many signs of the divine presence. As he recounted:
«A man whispered: God, talk to me! And a nightingale began to sing. But the man paid no attention. He begged again: God, speak to me! And a thunder clap resonated throughout the land. But the man gave it no importance. He begged again: God, let me see you! A magnificent moon shone in the night sky, but the man did not notice it. And, nervously, he began to scream: God, show me a miracle! And a baby was born. But the man did not stop to see the baby or admire the miracle of life. Desperate, he screamed: God, if you exist, touch me, let me feel your presence here and now. And a butterfly landed gently on his shoulder. But the angry man brushed it off.»
«Disappointed and in tears the man continued his journey. Wandering without direction. Asking no more, he was alone and filled with fear, because he did not know how to read the signs of God’s presence».
His lack of attention caused his despair, loneliness and rootlessness. The opposite of believing in God is not atheism, but the sensation of loneliness and existential desertion. With God all is transformed and filled with meaning.
Amidst our present entangled political situation, we seek a true experience of God. To that end, we must go beyond the rational reason that comprehends phenomena through their branches, calculates them, manipulates and incorporates them into the game of knowledge as scientific objectivity, as well as of political interest such as those at present. That calculating spirit thinks about God, but does not perceive God.
We need a different spirit, one that feels God: a spirit of finesse and cordiality, admiration and veneration. It is cordial or sensible reason that feels God from the heart.
God is better felt starting from cordial intelligence, than being thought about through intellectual reason. Then we will understand that we never are alone. An ineffable, mysterious and loving presence is with us at all times.
Is that not why we never stop asking ourselves about God, century after century? Is that not why our hearts are full when we spend time with Him? Is it not because it is He, the one without a Name and of the Mystery, who inhabits us? Is that not why we believe that there is always a solution to our problems?
We know that it is He when we are no longer afraid, because He is the true Lord of history. And we dare to hope that a good destiny will emerge from the darkness we now endure.
Leonardo Boff is Theologian,Philosopher and Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.