You cannot see the seer of the sight. You cannot hear the hearer of the sound. You cannot think the thinker of the thought. You cannot know the knower of the known. Your own Self lives in the hearts of all. Nothing else matters. ~ Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, W.B. Yeats version
Most of my encounters with God are like this:
LUKE: I’m looking for someone.
YODA: Looking? Found someone, you have, I would say, hmmm?
The little creature laughs.
LUKE: (Trying to keep from smiling) Right.
YODA: Help you I can. Yes, mmmm.
LUKE: I don’t think so. I’m looking for a great warrior.
YODA: Ahhh! A great warrior. (laughs and shakes his head)
Moses may tell us that “the Lord is a mighty warrior,” but if we look for God expecting to find that, we are generally disappointed. Like Yoda, God often appears in small, even slightly embarrassing forms–a wise but unprepossessing person, for instance, or someone in need, or a baby in a feed trough.
The God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) simply doesn’t behave the way we expect. For one thing, how seldom it occurs to us that the God whom we seek is all the while seeking us:
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:46)
I think this parable is often misunderstood. We hear references to “the pearl of great price,” but they often sound like the person making them thinks the term applies to the kingdom—but the kingdom is the merchant, not the pearl. We are the pearl. It is us that God seeks, and gives everything to acquire.
Moreover, “looking for someone” is predicated on the assumption that someone is elsewhere than we are. Luckily, the Psalmist knew what nonsense that is:
Where can I go then from your Spirit? where can I flee from your presence? If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast. (Ps. 139, 6-9)
“Wheresoever you look,” says the Qu’ran, “there is the face of God. (6:103) Like yeast is a loaf of bread, there is no place where God is not.
(Jesus) also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)[i]
Both our expectations of what God is like, and the fact that, as the Ground of All Being, God is utterly inescapable, make our little daily theophanies terribly easy to miss. Like someone looking through glasses in search of those very glasses, we do not see that the consciousness by which we seek, the faculty of awareness itself, is God-in-us, allowing light into our souls as the eye allows light into the body.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. (Matthew 6:23-23)
So if there is any spiritual light in me, any awareness, any here-and-now-ness, that is of God. Which must be the reason that the more in the moment I am, the more fully present and aware of myself, the more I feel that I am not alone. Whether at a party or family gathering, or while washing the dishes, I am most aware of the Presence when I am most recollected and present to myself. And once I have touched the “Self that lives in the hearts of all,” I am able to see that Self in others–to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.”[ii]
Found someone I have, hmmm?