God’s lack of experience

The ceiling of the Orthodox cathedral in Denver is a massive gold dome which arches from the ground, all the way up more than a dozen stories.  At its peak is this image of God as Jesus Pantocratpr surrounded by the saints and angels wrapping all the way down to the floor. The first time I saw this image I was with my friends Rebecca, Rick and Mary.

The man who recently let me into the church let me lay down on my back so that I could look up and see this icon with the effect of an arch of icons all around me.  It was an icon version of going to the planetarium.  It was a map of the parallel world of all that hosts our life and our cosmos. I wept.

The experience at the Orthodox church reminded me of this beloved quote:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ, Priest and Paleontologist, 1881 – 1955, once said,

“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”

(“The Evolution of Chastity,” in Toward the Future, 1936, XI, 86-87)

This icon reminded me of de Chardin’s writing on the cosmic Christ and especially of this hope for humanity.  So far, the fires we have rediscovered are in the form of bombs and planet-heating negligence; but I still believe that there are pockets of the church whose anxiety about being unchosen by younger generations will generate creativity rather than infighting and ecclesial cruelty.

God’s experience of isolation is limited to one human experience and though Jesus’s experience of isolation and betrayal was profound, it was also short given God’s experience of eternity.  What does it mean to be made in the image of a God who so loves connection?   What does it mean to be made in the image of a God whose experience has always been that of the community of the Trinity?

For me, it means that I was designed to connect with others.  For me it means that the desire to connect and be in community is not a preference but is rather who I am and how I was made. This explains why I am so devoted to caring for my friendships and why I find human cruelty to be so confusing.  And it propels me out of my library and out of my thoughts and out of my prayer closet – into the market place where my friends and I gather at Denver Biscuit Company ( http://www.denbisco.com )… as we will do in an hour!) for a buttermilk biscuit the size of your head, stuffed with all manner of wonderful foods, a good pot of coffee and a map of Denver – ready to make a day of being together, being community, living life as it was designed to be lived – together in this messy thing we call “life.”


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