Yesterday felt long. I was at my computer all morning e-mailing and planning/ brainstorming a few events. After lunch, Susan and I went to help out a friend’s parents move in to their new house. As the end of the day drew to a close, I simply wanted to go to sleep. But I (and Susan too) persevered through it. As the day was winding down, Ingrid gave me a brief Spanish lesson as we made bread for the next day. It was refreshing. Ingrid spoke very eloquently and her Spanish was impeccable. On the other hand, I felt as if I had a stick in my mouth that I couldn’t quite spit out. It was exciting for me, but I’m sure Ingrid was finished with my wrangling of the language she had studied for the past four years.
The bread was baking and our Spanish had drifted back to the dull shores of the English language. I was taken aback about what we were discussing, mostly because of Ingrid’s response. Ingrid Forsyth received three degrees from App State. She is, in simple words, brilliant. Not only is she brilliant, but she has avoided the often pit fall of the brilliant. As smoking is linked to cancer, brilliance has been linked to arrogance and pompousness. Ingrid has avoided this somehow. We turned to the topic of theology as we talked about the books that we were reading. I was taken aback by Ingrid’s response.
“Mary Claire, theology is dumb.”
Ingrid Forsyth, brilliant and studious, thought an academic field of study was dumb. She went on to talk about how she hated it because it never really accomplished anything.
“I’m fed up with academics. I only like things that tell stories. These books,” she said, holding up a few books we were reading this year, “talk about studies and statistics and facts but they don’t tell stories. I’d much rather read a novel than anything.”
I get that. We put on pedestals these academics who spend their lives reading and writing and more reading. There is merit to what they’re doing, but human beings are story tellers. C.S. Lewis is far better remembered for The Chronicles of Narnia than Mere Christianity. As a child, I was never particularly fascinated by science because it didn’t tell a story. Of course, I realize that science does tell a story. It tells the story of how something works. But to really reach people, we reach them through stories. God is in stories. He’s in the way that we tell them and in the details of an experience that we share. This morning for prayer, I shared an old Hasidic tale about a famous Rabbi. In the story, the young Rabbi is asked where God lives. If he answers correctly, he will be given a gold coin. In the story, the boy laughs and says, “I will give you two gulden (or gold coins) if you can tell where God does not live!”
It’s hard, especially when theology can be so fascinating, to look for God outside of the Bible and outside of deep discussions. It’s hard to find God in the people we live with every day. So often we confuse ourselves by separating the mundane from the holy. It’s easy to see the church building as a holy place of worship and our own homes as the daily living spaces. They seem disassociated from each other. They are not. God is present in all of creation, even in the creation of his creation. There are glimpses of God in nature that are so potent, but there is also glimpses of God in the construction of a house or making of a meal in a kitchen. God is a living being that resonates with all creation.
We separate and compartmentalize where we find God. We think God is in theology and in the church but not in my car. This cannot be further from the truth. God is constantly with us and around us.
I encourage you to look up from where you’re reading this. Look around. Where is God? Is it in the way that someone that to put flowers on the table to make a home more welcoming? Is it in the way that everything is put away and kept clean, that someone was thoughtful to do that? Can you see God when you look in the mirror? God is everywhere. All creation sings of who He is. Are you looking for Him?