Are we an unimaginative lot?
Yesterday I shared lunch with a good friend. He is a creative fellow, a man with a third eye who sees beyond the is of the mundane everyday and straight into the beautiful heart of life. Sitting on a bench in a crowded park, he can identify the decisive moment. He can capture the moment with his camera, slap a frame over it, and make you want to spend a week's salary to call it yours. He is a fine photographer. It is his gift.
We sat in the diner and he asked me how I knew that God is good. I was stumped, but not stumped in the "if God is so good, what about the starving Indian children," kind of way. Instead, I was definitionally stumped. What is "good," anyway? Isn't good, after all, subjective? Isn't it notional? Isn't "good" a subjective measuring stick?
For the first time, I thought about the term "good." For the first time, I wondered whether we all mean the same thing by it.
"'Good' is a known quotient, a thing around which entire catechisms have been written," you might say.
I've been considering my dear brothers in the developing world. Would the day-laborer in Rajpur call a warm cot and a loaf of bread good? Most certainly he would. Would we in the developed world call a warm cot and a loaf of bread good? Perhaps not. Be honest. Don't you wan't a little better than mere good?
Good is a matter of degrees, see.
"Didn't Jesus call God good?" you ask. Yes, he did. But even then, he didn't provide us any definition of "good," except to say that God was it.
"Seth, do you believe God is good?" you ask. Yes, I do. But does good to me mean the same thing that it does to you?
I wonder whether we're asking the right questions. It seems for all of our creativity, we're still mired down in vague, un-nuanced visions of God, and so many are still coming up empty. Perhaps it's difficult to see God as good when life takes a hard left turn. How do we know God is good then? What is good? I wonder instead, whether we ought to be asking a more imaginative, more creative question. I wonder whether we ought to be asking whether God is, in fact, God, and if so, whether he is in us, and for us, and through us. If we come away with the eternal yes to these questions, maybe we should just leave it at that and live in gratefulness.
This year, I'm moving on, wrestling less with the questions of God's goodness and more with the mystery of God's Godness. I'm trying less to define all of His undefinable contours and accepting, instead, the reality of his indwelling.
Where does that leave me?
Perhaps it leaves me with a God who is bigger than my smallish notions of an acceptable Him.
Consider recovery from language limited, from the constraints of ever and always, from dualities of tender or capricious. Consider throwing off the yoke of subjectivity or objective knowing; instead, reach for the mystery of the air around you of everything that is eternal, un-understandably yours.
Photo by Capt' Gorgeous.