I Am Not a Space that God Does Not Occupy – Part I: The Light Within

How I Found God.

Dear Wisdom Friends,

As the new decade gets underway, it feels like an appropriate moment to share one of my earlier essays, which is still to my mind one of the best things I’ve ever written. It was originally published in the 2018 anthology, How I found GOD in Everyone and Everywhere, edited by Claremont School of Theology faculty members Andrew M. Davis and Philip Clayton and published by Monkfish, our intrepid publishing partner here in Waypoints Wisdomland! Compiled in honor of Marcus Borg, this anthology is broadly structured around the theme of Panentheism and features the usual suspects among Christian nondual teachers, including my colleagues Richard Rohr, Matthew Fox, and Ilia Delio. It’s well worth a read in its entirety.

I will be sharing my entire essay in eight successive posts, which will be headed your way in bite-sized doses over the upcoming season of Epiphany.

Part II will be posted here on Wednesday January 15. Look for the next posts to follow Sundays and Wednesdays through January and into early February. I look forward to you sharing your reflections in the Comments section. Enjoy! And Happy New Year!!! May this “year of perfect vision” indeed shed some new light.

I. The Light Within

“So does that mean every time a new baby’s born, there’s less God?”

The Good Earth by Jose Bernal

The pint-sized questioner was my grandson Jack, at the time four years old and clearly wrestling with the theological implications of the recent birth of his baby sister. His other grandmother, of a more evangelical persuasion, had been coaching him on the basic tenets of Christian belief: 1) that God is everywhere, and 2) that human beings are not God. With his four-year-old, preoperational-logic brain in virtual overdrive, Jack was trying to reconcile the admittedly challenging interface between these two givens.

I have to admit, his question stopped me dead in my tracks. Not just the perspicacity of his insight, but the very notion itself. Never during my own childhood would the thought have even crossed my mind that a human being might be a space where God was not. Raised in the rolling countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania, I grew up in an easy, natural intimacy between the divine and human realms, an intimacy intensified through the regular silent worship at the local Quaker school I was privileged to attend. To be sure, Sundays brought my weekly encounter with Christian Science where it was drilled into me that “there is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” But the rest of the week I was free to roam the fields and forests and drink in exactly the opposite message. From the first moment my young self-reflective consciousness came online, about Jack’s age or a little younger (I remember myself standing in a pumpkin patch just at sunset in late October, everything brilliantly ablaze in orange), I knew then and there that this holy, intimate radiance suffusing the picture was in me and in everything, if for no other reason than because it was from the inside that all of this seemed to be emerging. “Ah,” the Quakers nodded encouragingly, “the light within!” And they told me it was in everyone.

The Hymn
The Hymn by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis

In due course, at Christian Science Sunday School and Methodist Vacation Bible School, we kids all read the Bible stories and learned all about those epic Old Testament battles against something called “idol worship.” We thrilled as Moses smashed down the golden calf and sneered over our shoulders at those misguided Baal worshippers or Phoenicians or Canaanites with whom our Hebrew heroes were locked in mortal combat. I didn’t know exactly what “idol worship” was at the time, but I knew it had to do with trying to put God in a box—and that the consequences for disobedience were severe. (The Ten Commandments, duly memorized as part of our Bible School experience, left no doubt on that score.)

Blessedly, it never occurred to me back in those early days of my awakening that my cherished secret, that gently dawning light within, might be seen in some quarters as “putting God in a box.”

Blog Archives

16 thoughts on “I Am Not a Space that God Does Not Occupy – Part I: The Light Within

  1. I’m excited and hopeful to have come across Cynthia.
    For many years I (brought up a Catholic) have wandered through life looking for this connection to God. I have been disappointed in church an religious leaders who have never talked about the infusion of this love in us all, but we have not connected to it because we were unaware of it. I long to know this God of love.
    I’ll be getting Cynthia’s books , and looking forward to reading them.

  2. Hi Cynthia,
    We appreciate the Lectio-sized portions of your essay. Very good for reading aloud! Although we couldn’t stop the intellect from looking up Panentheism, comparing it to Pantheism, and so forth, our hearts called us back to the resonance of your words. That resonance found voice as “it’s all the heart of God,” and “our Wisdom practice is relationship with God within us.”
    In gratitude,
    Bill and Sarah

  3. Jon, this sounds like a beautiful on-the-spot illumination of the heart, demonstrating exactly how–as C.G. Jung once observed–“Bidden or Unbidden, God shows up.” Shows up wielding the light of Christ, which is then illuminated in EVERY heart, increasing the manifest presence in this poor shattered world of unifying love. Thank you.

  4. How can the light be in everyone? How can God be in everyone? How can God be in Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Atheists? They don’t have Jesus. They don’t have the Holy Spirit living within them. They have not asked Jesus to come into their life as Lord and Savior. Thank God my heart has been cracked open and awakened!! My arrogance, my blindness has been shattered and there is no turning back. May the light of God continue to shine bright in my brothers and sisters in every faith tradition walking the face of our beautiful and hurting earth!!

    1. Maybe you are or maybe you’re not aware that your question arises from the tacit imperialistic – not christian – mindset of western culture. You know what’s true, and others without your persuasion do not, seems to be you underlying position. If you were to open your mind to other cultures and traditions, your question might evaporate.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.