"For me this is a practical matter. Instead of having the answer about
God like some guy or some thing or some explanation or some anything,
I have a space of possibility like an openness, like a place for God
to show up in my life."
, speaking with Reverend Terry
Cole-Whittaker about God (transformed way)
"My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever,
during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of
footprints, it was then that I carried you."
... God, Footprints In The Sand (classic way)
"When there was only one set of footprints in the sand, that's when
there was only one set of footprints in the sand."
I am indebted to
Father Patrick Gerard
who inspired this conversation.
When I leapt to my feet at the end of that last weekend of August in
1978 as if struck by a lightning bolt out of the blue, delighted with
the onset of transformation, I noticed a shift in who and what God is
for me. To be sure, the experience of transformation doesn't replace or
require relinquishing the relationship we have with her. Yet what's
true is the relationship we have with her is profoundly enhanced by it.
I saw it's likely transformation will bring a new clarity and a depth
to that relationship for everyone, neither of which was conceivable or
even possible prior to its onset. But in hindsight (and hindsight is
always 20/20 vision) that's really not surprising.
In terms of the experience I'd just had of transformation, and the
experience I'd had of God prior to its onset, it became abundantly
clear to me that the one isn't a substitute for or a replacement of or
better than or senior to the other. It's apples and oranges. Comparing
the experience of transformation to the experience of God (or even
comparing the work of transformation to a path to God) is
like comparing a hole in the ground, to the swimming pool it becomes,
once it's filled with water.
When I realized what transformation really gives, that is to say when I
could set aside my concepts and beliefs of
what it gives, and experience the contextual shift it
really is for the first time, it came as no surprise to discover (and
confront and admit) that my erstwhile relationship with God was largely
conceptual ie I had simply fabricated it out of my deeply held (if not
cherished and sincere) beliefs. It suddenly became blindingly obvious
(much to my chagrin) how much I had confused my concepts / belief in
God, with my experience of her (prior to the onset of transformation I
had no direct access to it, having confused it with my concepts and
Look: there's nothing wrong with our concepts of and / or our beliefs
in God. There's nothing that needs to be changed or fixed about them.
Nothing at all. That said, what transformation allows for is a
clear view of the difference between concepts
of / beliefs in something ... and our experience of it. That's really
worth listening! As I began to see, my most cherished concepts of /
beliefs in God had gotten in my way of / obfuscated directly
experiencing the space in which she shows up for me. With the onset of
transformation, none of that needs to change. Indeed, transformation
doesn't change anything! So it's for sure not going to change or
replace who and what God is (or isn't) for us. I want you to be clear
that the work of transformation isn't antithetical to God. In fact it
barely addresses her at all - any more than, say, the work of
mathematics addresses her. What the work of transformation
does do, is
(I love that word) who and what God is. That's profound.
It's not because transformation brings with it any particular religious
slant (apples and oranges again). It's because transformation
recontextualizeseverything. So wait: what do you even mean, Laurence: to
who and what God is? If God isn't
do you mean she disappears? What I mean is that God shows up within the
space of who I really am ... and ... if I don't generate
myself as a place for God to show up, then it's likely God doesn't
show up at all ie she disapppears - which is what, arguably
unexamined, happened to Mother Teresa during her epic, bone-numbingly
honest, brilliantly articulated (which is not to mention
courageous, given that everyone took for granted the stand she
was for her Missionaries of Charity, for Calcutta, for India,
and for the world)
"crisis of faith"
When God disappears, it's more than likely I've re-conceptualized her
again, believing once again it's my tired, old system of beliefs that
accounts for her, and not my having a place for her. And that's not
all: what's also more than likely is I've allowed the place for her to
show up in my life, to go out of existence - in other words, I've
stopped generating what it takes for her to show up in my life. Man!
I'd love to be a fly on the wall during a conversation
between Mother Teresa and Werner.