“When the Bible is read from the perspective of divine nearness, it becomes clear that most prophets, poets, and preachers are particularly worried about religious institutions and practices that perpetuate the gap between God and humanity, making the divine unapproachable or cordoned off behind cadres of priestly mediators, whose interest is in exercising their own power as brokers of salvation. The biblical narrative is that of a God who comes close, compelled by a burning desire to make heaven on earth and occupy human hearts.”
― Diana Butler Bass; Grounded: Finding God in the World
I am particularly suspicious of those who claim that God remains at a distance because of an intrinsic depravity that has somehow made us incompatible at a deep relational level. While I am aware of my human dysfunction and frailty I cannot but marvel at how the world constantly includes me in the mystical conversation of otherness. Every day nature continues to invite me to participate in the rhythms of its sacred life, as if it needs me as a co-partner of sorts, a fellow species that also emerged from the same ground of all being.
There has always been a deep connection with the sacred soil that sits beneath our feet, the foundation that fuels the growth of our life. Our agrarian ancestors learnt how to cultivate the ground in order to sustain their existence and learn of its hidden secrets. There are more microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on the planet, billions of nutrients working daily to strengthen and support the intricate networks and systems that underpin evolutions agenda. The subterranean floor of terrafirma pushes life to the surface like a birthing mother intent on growth, expansion, and augmentation.
To be ‘grounded' simply means that I am taking responsibility for the place I find myself in by listening for the divine hum that emanates from beneath my feet, letting it rhythm my everyday life.
‘I listen to the voice that speaks to me from the ground’ - James K. Baxter
The more that I listen and discern the more I begin to feel at home in my own skin, available to play my role in serving the planet rather than contributing to its destruction and demise. When we take advantage of or abuse someone who is trying to care for us we lose a part of our soul, often leaving a pathway of destruction in our wake. This is not just about using less plastic bags, recycling our rubbish or composting waste, which is all good, but remembering that nature is a living entity that is eternal in its essence and somehow needs our respectful guardianship.
In our ongoing search for contentment we have forgotten about our earthly mother and run roughshod over the delicate balance that maintains order. Our consumerism is out of control and it seems nothing will stand in the way of humans bettering themselves at the expense of the planet. Rather than caring for the earth we are exploiting her at a fast rate of knots, much to the chagrin of those whose have some kind of ecological and environmental conscience.
Consumerism has shifted the goal posts when it comes to how we process contentment. Our want for more has created a kind of lopsided society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, distorting our ability to share and use the resources better.
'Wisdom is always content'… Anon
Wisdom is one of primary metaphors for God, an internal reminder of the divine that is waiting and watching for the moment to expose itself to the world through your life, the God who has never been far away, hiding in the fabric of your being. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and have always known it, it just takes time to find your place in the world and make a meaningful contribution to its flourishing.
Just like the ancient song says, ‘He formed you in the secret place’... wisdom secretly moulds you out of dust and spirit in order to help you understand the inseparable nature of heaven and earth as co-conspirators in our lives.
The closeness of God is without question….just open your eyes and take a look around.