THE COLUMN

Issue No. 70/June 8, 1996


GOD

IVAN HOFFMAN

None of us can know if there is something called God and if so, what is the nature of God. Accordingly, each of us has to create the concept for ourselves. It takes a bit of faith to give ourselves over to a power that cannot be seen nor felt in the traditional sense of those words.

God has been apparent in my life through me, through what I have experienced. What is God will vary from one person to the next. Since our individual experiences vary, the way in which we manifest God will surely vary as well.

When we are flexible, open in our hearts, able to see ourselves from the outside, watch ourselves as we move through our lives, we can perhaps then get a sense about the nature of God. But it appears often that we can neither see nor feel God in our lives. It is not that we are not paying attention or that God is not paying attention. It is more likely that we have to refocus our lens, our scope. It is not easy to see a God that seems to lack form and appears through who we are and what we do. It is difficult to contemplate that God exists because we exist, or that we are the embodiment of God.

Perhaps we should have some sort of checklist of what to look for, what to feel, in order that we know that God is present all day, everyday. We are not of course given this list, anymore than we are given instructions on what life is about. We have to create our own list as we go along. Your list will surely be different than mine but this is how God has been apparent at varying times during the course of my life. Perhaps you could make a list of your own.

These experiences and others have all been God because each has enabled me to grow. The very deep and at times abiding pain that they have brought have been the engine that has moved me forward toward what I believe is the goal in life, which is to reach spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy is the returning to that connection I mentioned above. It is the attainment of enlightenment. It is the loss of all fear, of all pain.

Each of these I experienced as God not necessarily while the experience was ongoing. Indeed, it is most difficult to see God in pain while we are in pain. But as I have reflected upon my journey, it has become totally apparent to me that I have been guided and that my path, with all its pain as well as its joy, is how God has appeared to me.

And each experience was of value in and of itself, standing alone. But each experience was also the precursor to and preparation for the subsequent experience. We are given only those experiences that we can surmount at any time in our journey, even though it appears we cannot surmount them. And we are given ever more difficult experiences because we have had the previous, less difficult ones that have laid the groundwork. Keep in mind that we cannot look at only those experiences we have had in this lifetime for I believe we have many lifetimes. The continuum is all that matters, not the segments. The segments are the times during which we are given the real life experiences in order that we may grow. But they are only slices of the whole pie.

God may look different to each of us depending upon our individual variables. But since our journey is all the same-a journey to reach spiritual intimacy-underneath God is the same for all of us.

Underneath, God is lessons learned.

© 1996 Ivan Hoffman

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