Sunday, March 2, 2014

Speaking the Same Language

"A Picture of God"

Another weekend has arrived- a time for people from all over the world to gather together in various temples or houses of worship. They will all be using the "same" words, and in doing so imagine that they are "speaking the same language."

"God," "soul," "faith," "prayer, "love," "peace," "spirituality" - the kind of words that are spoken on any given weekend.  Everyone using the same words, but very often not speaking the same language or sharing a common understanding of what these words mean.

For many years I spent every Sunday delivering sermons. When I was younger, after a sermon I would wonder if the congregation "got my meaning?"  Was I able to clearly transfer my ideas (what was inside of my head) into their heads."  However, I soon realized that this isn't how it all works. 

People may share a common vocabulary but each and every one of us brings different meanings to the words we use. I can never box up my meaning, put it into words and dump them into another's brain so that they might "get my meaning."  

A word like "love" is spoken and everyone who speaks or hears the word brings their own "baggage to that word- their own life experiences, gender, culture, education, all go into what that word means. Sometimes the word might be understood similarly, sometimes very differently.  We may indeed all use the same words but we may also be very far from speaking the same language.

I often follow conversations on Facebook or Twitter in which religious people (people who belong to the same church as I do) talk about the church, or they talk about their  prayers ascending up into heaven, or they talk about their faith in God.  Very often I will stop and think to myself, "wait a minute-  the way you are using those words is almost exactly the opposite of the way I use them."

When I use the word "God," I am not referring to some personal superpower living in a heavenly mansion up there and out there who controls the world or is even remotely influenced by how much I pray or don't pray. We may be using the same words but we are certainly not speaking the same language.

When I write my daily blog posts, I am always very careful about using the word "God" and I always put the word into quotation marks because this word alone will trigger a host of volatile attacks from atheists and agnostic types who think I am talking about the "man in the sky" who they have rejected as a silly fairy tale told to children.

 I explain that I don't use the word "God" in this way. Sometimes after lengthy conversation, we can come to a redefinition of what I mean when I talk about "God," but at the very least, it always teaches me that we can use the same words but speak very different languages.

I have come to the point where, on my own spiritual journey, I have basically just stopped using any theological words like "faith" or "prayer" or "church" or even "God." 

Camera in hand, I walk along a wilderness trail and I encounter a desert tree blossoming in the springtime sunlight.  I stop and wonder at it's mystery and I take a picture of "God" -the all abiding energy of universal love flowing in all that "is"- the Holy  Presence that has no name and is always limited by language. 

I have no words for it all and the only language is silence and awe. 


  1. Thanks for sharing!

    "When I use the word "God," I am not referring to some personal superpower living in a heavenly mansion up there and out there who controls the world or is even remotely influenced by how much I pray or don't pray."

    When an ordained priest who delivers Sunday sermons has come to this conclusion, there is still hope for Christian churches.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Covered by your mountain of words...
    Those that know...
    Do not speak.
    Those that speak...
    Do not know.
    The greatness covered by your mountain of words.

  3. Wonderful.. when faith is removed from our vocabulary. We will start participating directly with divinity. It coukd be as simple as a Sunset or sunrise, that will make you stop, catch your breath and say .'Ahhh'.
    That is when we are suffused by the idea of being one with the universe drops in an Ocean

  4. When we discard terms like faith and belief from our vocabulary.
    We have the freedom to directly participate in
    It could be something like watching the Ocean or the sunrise- or it could mean something so deep and profound and totally personal.
    The experience of being suffused with the idea of being one with the Universe drops of water that fall from the sky to meet the ocean.
    That experience is a divine one. One objectifies it by giving it a frame of reference called God.

  5. While assisting a group of Sunday schoolers today at St. Peters of Rockland, Maine, I was troubled to learn that they didn't really believe in God. I explained to them in simple terms about the good feeling you get when you believe in something is what we call 'faith'. I then told these youngsters a story about a cancer survivor friend who beat the odds of terminal cancer despite her doctor informing her that the cancer had spread to her brain with little hope for her to survive it. I prayed from a distance with her by email communication since she and her husband and son resided in Georgia. I somehow had become her lifeline via smartphone of communication during the duration of multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments. I reminded her of the main reason for living was to be able to spend Christmas with her two year old son. I sent her a cherished Santa bear gift I made for her hospital stay which I explained would be like a guardian angel offering her protection. I further explained to the Sunday schoolers the good feeling I had when I asked the Lord and St. Michael for help which lead me on a more righteous path in life. I continued talking about how clarification had somehow replaced any lingering doubts I had about the past . And how rejoicing about my optimistic outlook filled me with a sense of new purpose as an earth angel believer. I began praying both morning and night while thanking God for giving me life which has become essential to me.
    Blessings, Laura