Saturday, February 21, 2015

God Is....Spiritual Conversations With Joan Chittister

*A few weeks ago I bought the book, 40 Soul-Stretching Conversations, by Sister Joan Chittister, with the intention of exploring my own ideas of what faith and spirituality mean to me at this point in my life. It is also my intent (well, providing that I like this year’s journey) to break out this book time and time again. The book is actually a small journal that provides daily quotes and then insight from Sr. Joan (because obviously we are on a first-name basis) before inviting readers to jot down their own thoughts and responses.

After some contemplation, I decided that what I would like to do - if you will allow me the indulgence - is to use this as my Lent Journal. 

Each day during Lent I will provide you with the quote, a snippet of Sr. Joan’s response, and then my own contemplation.

Here’s the caveat: your responses are not only welcome, they are essential in order to keep the conversation - and growth - moving forward. So, please feel free to add a comment at the end of each post, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (you know how to find me). I look forward to seeking out more spiritual truths with you this Lenten season! *

“God is gracious and merciful… slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” - Exodus 34:6

“Who is this God, really? Who is this God whom we have fashioned out of the light of our needs and the hopes of our hearts?” - Sr. Joan Chittister

Three days into this and already I’m asking myself, good grief, what have I gotten myself into with this project?

Who am I to discuss who or what God is? I am no great theologian or learned academic. I’m certainly no student of the Bible. What, then, can I possibly bring to this conversation?

Sister Joan elaborates on mankind’s definitions of God by illustrating the various incarnations we assign to Him, according to our own needs and circumstances. When we are angry, our God is a vengeful God. When we find ourselves at the end of our rope, God is full of mercy and kindness. When we feel guilt-ridden by our own actions, God is forgiving.

Sister Joan’s observations are sobering. 

Does this mean that, much like XTC’s lead singer Andy Partridge proclaims in his song, Dear God, mankind created God for its own needs?

Or, is God all these things and so much more, as Sister Joan states in her closing statement, “Surely God is all this…. And more, the more we cannot in our smallness and our thirst even begin to imagine”?

Personally, I believe God IS all that we need Him to be, when we need Him. He visits us through friends, neighbors, and even strangers who share in our pain, our joy, our sorrow. Jesus himself admonished his followers to assist those identified as downtrodden, hopeless, or weak. When we reach out to our neighbors in such a manner we allow ourselves to be vessels through which God can help others. We realize that there will be times in our lives that we, too, will require the support of our fellow human beings in order to survive the sometimes harsh circumstances this life throws at us.

Yes, surely God is all this, and so much more than our limited minds can understand and imagine.

What do you think? Who or what is God to you?

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