Two white boulders rested in the grass in my backyard as a child. I hoisted them up at times to ponder the variety of insects underneath and appreciate all the life teeming in the soil. Roly-polies, centipedes, spiders, and earthworms creeped around under what appeared to my eyes as an impossibly heavy thing pressing down on them. Things are not always how they first appear, or even how they most appear. That is how I first realized anything about God.
As I pondered the life teeming under the rocks, I considered the rocks themselves. It seemed that the rocks must have some sense of being a rock. How could an object occupy some space and not have some sense of itself? Certainly not the same as I have about myself, but a sense just the same.
So considering the rock’s sense of rockness led me to discern that I believed in an intelligence underlying everything, a consciousness that sustains things and animates not only what we consider alive but everything that exists. As I stared at matter, I never felt totally convinced that it was completely stationary. At times, it even seemed to have a frenetic energy, and I did not believe that what appeared on the surface was solely the reality inhabited by any given thing.
I next remember asking my mother about the soul. I don’t even think I had that word yet, but I know that is what I was asking about, and she was very impressed with the question. She told me that people had been thinking about those types of big questions since the beginning of time.
My family did not practice any religion. At the time I asked my mother about the soul, she simply responded with encouragement to continue asking those “tough questions.” I became rather enamored with my own existence, the fact that I had one, that I was conscious and able to be conscious, and that every other person in the world had their own unique consciousness as well.
Another key moment occurred when I started questioning truth. I knew my life would come to an end at some point. The truth existed that it would occur at a particular point, and that that point existed from the moment of my conception.
To put it another way, when I was conceived, it was also a fact that my body would die, and this moment was an objective point that would eventually happen and that that point was known by someone. To me, this indicated the existence of an objective truth, despite my own free will. I also believed that an intelligence, a level of awareness, knew when that was, and that’s how I understood God. Rather than distant, this God seemed intimately personal, which I only now can put words to.
The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine;
the world and all that is in it, thou hast founded them.
Psalm 89:11 RSV
What about you? When did you first start see glimmers of God and begin to have a sense that God exists?
May God bless you during this time of Lent.