Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gazing in the Eyes of God

Do you remember falling in love?

Do you remember how it is, to be able to spend hours, gazing into the eyes of the beloved? Oh, yeah... you're talking about politics, or pizza, or the movie you just saw. Or maybe you're talking about nothing, just sitting near each other, maybe holding hands, and looking at one another.

Just gazing into one another, stoned on love.

Remember that?

That's worship.

I don't mean I worship my husband. I love him an awful lot--but I wouldn't exactly call it worship. (Though I am inclined to think of him as one proof of the existence of God.)

What I mean is, that sense, that feeling of deep and timeless immersion in the beloved...that's it. That's what happens, on a good day, when I worship.

I arrive, I center down, I look up--or in, or something like that--and there's God. And I just... let go, and look, and love.

Week after week, I feel the most intense relief when I enter meeting for worship. All week long, I struggle with this dilemma or that; I guilt myself out, worry myself sick, and forget what I'm supposed to be doing. It's as if, after worship, I come down off the mountaintop, and the air is thicker and it makes it harder to think and harder to feel. I get lost, and I forget Important things about how the love at the heart of the universe sees us, and how I want to see us, and how it is possible to treat other people.

Or maybe it's like being married for a long time--how you can just forget how amazing the other person, the one you fell so deep in love with, really is. You get caught up in the daily round, and you forget to slow down, find time, and just look: to look into the eyes of this miracle you are married to.

But then there are those moments you get reminded, by joy or by loss or by a certain song on the radio or a certain smell in the air, and it all rushes back. You take your beloved by the hand, or they take your hand, and then... you look up.

And there they are. And you remember that you love them. And you remember the miracle of it, deep down in your bones (not just your heart).

And that's what I mean about worship.

Worship is the time every week when I don't have to be smart, I don't have to be brave, I don't have to be strong, and I don't have to be wise. I have this amazing, unearned gift of being loved without earning or striving or willing things. All I have to do is... look up, and there She is: the Beloved.

And I figure out all over again, that that which I have been yearning for has also been yearning for me. And that which I have been longing for is right beside me, loving me right back.

Oh! I realize. That's right!

I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine!

And for a little while, I can forget the foolishness I lose my way in every week, and remember the miracle. And every time I remember it, I think I'm gradually beginning to remember also how to love a little bit better, and to see just a little more clearly, with a little more grace.

This is what it feels like to be in love with the universe. This is what it feels like to be in love with God.

I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine. What do you know? There it was again! How wonderful... this is what it feels like to be in love.


Rose said...

I love this!

cubbie said...

there you go again, with those words! :-)

anj said...


Rebecca said...

Thank you for this.

James Riemermann said...


This is beautiful. I'm sad to confess, though, it makes me envious. I envy your love for the universe. It sounds like a good place to be, but I think I've never been there.

Sometimes I'm enraged by the universe's indifference, sometimes smothered by it's great weight, sometimes awestruck by its beauty, power and plenty. Never in love, though Maybe someday.

For now the best I can say is, my relationship with God is...problematic. Yes, that's the word.

Rebecca said...

James: maybe this is silly but what you wrote made me think of this. It's a bit of writing that came out and surprised me last year, and facilitated some healing. Throwing it out there just in case it's helpful.

God says I'm Sorry

Everything in the universe is her self and her play and her dance and her laughter. She started playing with separating parts of her self from each other and got fascinated with the gravity, the attraction across the distance. Sure, it hurt sometimes too, but it was OK. It was all dance, there were so many ways, new every time, beautiful and funny and alive. She loved it, and she kept playing. And then creatures with their own complex minds developed, and they started trying to figure out how the game worked!

God tried to show them, all kinds of ways, everything she could think of. She wanted to help them see how they were part of the dance, how beautiful it all was. They got glimpses sometimes. But it was so hard for them to see, she had never imagined. She never imagined they would suffer so.

It is still beautiful, still delightful, still a dance. But she grieves, now, too, for the ones who are trapped in pain, and feels anger at the harm that's done. The dance has become bittersweet.


Here is one, a girl who can see it. Not everything, of course, but enough. She looks God straight in the mirror-eyes and says, you're right, it's beautiful. It's amazing. And I know you want to share all the joy of it with me, I've felt you for ages reaching out and helping me along... but it's not working on me. This mind won't let go of the suffering. Every cell in this body is steeped in generations of too much pain and I can't get free of it, as hard as I try. I'm sorry. I just can't do it.

And God knows that she is right, and has nothing to say. They stand there together, forehead to glass, and grieve.

The girl says, I will still do your work. I will stay here with your other suffering ones and reach out your hand to them when I can. Not for good karma or empty morality, but just because I love you, and I love the world, in spite of it all. Because sometimes I am not trapped in the pain and it is beautiful and funny. And that can be enough, for one day at a time anyway.

And God wraps her in a blanket of friendship, and they are not alone.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Awesome post.

Michael said...

"[That] which I have been yearning for has also been yearning for me. And that which I have been longing for is right beside me, loving me right back."

Thanks so much, Cat. I needed this reminder.

Blessed Be,

Hystery said...

Interesting that you use this marriage metaphor in relationship to meeting for worship. This is the time in my life when my relationship to the Divine fits the metaphor the absolute least.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I also find this is exactly how it is.
Good words, Cat.
The universe leans towards you the moment you lean towards Her.

Terri in Joburg

just etchings said...

I found you through your comment on Anj's recent post and like what you speak of in this post of yours.
As a late in life newly wed, and a deepening contemplative, there is much beauty in what you speak of.

James Riemermann said...

What you say is helpful, Rebecca, though, as I think is implied by what you write, it is not helpful in terms of fixing the underlying difficulty. The universe is what it is.

You write: "And God wraps her in a blanket of friendship, and they are not alone."

The only thing I would see differently is, we wrap each other in that blanket. That, from my perspective, is the comfort. And it is a great one.

Hillary said...

Thanks mom. This was nice to read.

The other night, I told Nate that I hoped God was grieving for Itachi, not in a malicious sense, but in the same sense that Nate was, by my side lending me strength through his presence. And why not? If God loves every soul, musn't he grieve every soul? What you've written reminds me of that feeling. Like, why do we have to be reminded of God's presence, by love and loss and worship? Because it is too big and encompassing to be immersed in all the time. Can you do the dishes when looking into your beloved's eyes? Can you grade papers? It takes practice to be able to hold so much feeling within you and still go about the daily grind.

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