Imagine if it it really is true that there’s a Higher Power out there that loves you deeply and is hoping to arrange things so you will be happy to let yourself be found by it. And what if, as long as you don’t say ‘No’, this power will keep moving towards your soul every day like a relentless fountain of grace, or even an affectionate old hound? Every delicious cup of coffee, every footstep on this beautiful old earth and every trembling leaf now has the possibility of being filled with the music of infinite love, and you—the curious, occasionally frustrated and not infrequently enraged little hominid—could be stumbling your way towards a dangerous meeting place. The place itself (if there is such a place) would be so drenched in love and sadness that you would feel you have been thought of since time began.
But beware the barking voices that want to turn every sunset and leaf into a moral lesson from a school-teacher god. As enthusiastic and sincere as these guys are, they don’t help. They are the stumble at the last minute that ruins your entire quest and leaves you thinking, ‘Oh, so that’s what this is about: just another spin-doctoring sell-job.’ They were ‘called on it’ long ago by the one who described them as voices speaking out of ‘whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones’.1 He pointed out that they are the control-freaks: alarmed by the very possibility of a real, live, infinite love breaking out, they crowd around the gate of heaven and foul it up so much that people like you and me are left frightened, confused and repulsed.
So, if you’re already over it, maybe that Higher Power sympathises deeply with your disgust. As one great advocate has said, ‘ “I hate all your show and pretence: the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.2
On the other hand if you’re ready to give this—no longer saying ‘No’—quest a try. What might it look like? If you’ve been in the habit of saying ‘No’ it might look and feel like a nuisance: a sunrise you don’t want to notice, a child you’d rather ignore or even literally a pesky old stray hound at your back door.
A good place to start might be with this Prayer of The One Hoping in a Loving Higher Power: ‘I’m not sure you are there. But if you are I want to thank you for chocolate, for music, for that friend who really gets me. And for the sky, the birds and the sunrise. And I ask for forgiveness for saying ‘No’ to your very possibility. I can’t say ‘Yes’ cause I don’t even know if you exist, and if you do, I’m still not sure that I would actually like you—but from here on I want you to know that I’m happy to be found by you. Amen.’
- Matthew 23:27
- Amos 5:21 -24