In my second year theology class at seminary, we were asked to come up with as many images of “God” as we could.
Father, Mother, Creator, King, Spirit, Companion, Shepherd, Redeemer; the metaphors were coming fast and furious, as we pulled from our various religious traditions. The one I remember best, however, was the one I had never heard before: the Space Between. We must’ve all looked blank, because the student who offered this image came up front to explain it further. First, he drew a picture on the whiteboard: two stick figures with a large space between them. Then he drew a double-headed arrow between the figures. “There,” he said, pointing to the arrow. “To me, that’s God. The energy or force that manages to connect people, that takes individuals who were isolated and brings them together. That’s what God is to me.”
I thought again of this student when I read these words in a poem by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis:
I seek God in connection,
In the nexus of community.
I pray and celebrate the betweeness
That binds and holds us together.
What a dynamic view of God! Not as a personality “out there” but as an energy that brings people together, the Life Force that creates relationships. There is a place for this vision of God in our Christian tradition. Whenever Jesus calls us to care and serve others, he is calling us into holy connection. To serve others is to serve God; the movement we feel within us that compels us to act compassionately, is the movement of the Spirit. Likewise, when we come together to serve others, when we work together for the benefit of people we might never know, we find ourselves in the presence of something very holy. Our lives are more than they would have been if we stood alone; the act of serving with others, for others, is a sacred act. God is thus a verb, as well as a noun.
This coming Sunday, Nov. 6th, we will gather to “celebrate the betweeness that binds and holds us together.” We will eat together, sing together, pray together, and serve together. How blessed we are to have this opportunity! Thanks be to the Mystery – the Spirit – the Space Between.