I wish I weren’t such a literalist—such a fundamentalist. But, we are all Southern Baptists at heart. We like it like we like it, and people who don’t like it the way we like it can just go to hell. That’s me, I’m sorry (not really) to say.
I actually think language matters. It isn’t “just words.” It is not “just a matter of semantics.” We are not all “saying the same thing.” It is not a matter of saying, “It doesn’t matter what the words are, it’s what in our hearts that counts.” What counts is what we say and what words we use to say it.
We cannot sing the old gospel hymns and think we can ignore the language because we like the rhythm and the beat and the feeling of community when we sing them. We cannot recite the creeds and mean something with the words that the words don’t say. The words matter. Don’t use words that don’t say what you mean.
If we mean that God exists independently of us and separately from us as an almighty, invincible, omni-everything, supernatural, spiritual being in a dimension, on a plane, in a realm, apart from space and time, that’s what we should say. And, if we see all of creation, including every possible dimension, plane, realm that is as being a matrix, an interconnected whole, where everything participates in the oneness of the all, and the whole is in each part, and each part is inseparable (and, from a certain perspective, indistinguishable) from the whole, then, that’s what we should say.
The word “light” is a better metaphor for God at this point in the history of the world from the point of view of western culture than the word “king.” And, it is biblical. And, it suggests “perspective” which is fundamental, foundational, to “being.” We cannot just “be.” We have to “be” this way or that way. We have to be “somehow.” Some way in particular. We have to “be” “in light of” a particular, a peculiar, perspective. How we see is how we are. We are seeing/beings.
God is a certain perspective. A certain way of seeing/being. When we see and become as God, we are one with God, and where do we stop and where does God start? When we love as God loves, the distinctions drop away, and people, seeing us, see God. Put that in a creed and I’ll say it. But don’t expect me to say God is a King who hates me and loves me and has to kill me because I’m not pleasing and impregnates a virgin named Mary to birth a god-man named Jesus to live a wholly pure and pleasing life and die as a sacrifice acceptable to God for my sins and the sins of everybody who ever lived and will ever live, which is efficacious only if we believe the scenario with all our hearts and say we are sorry for our sins and try to do better until we die and go to heaven and live eternally joyfully and gladly forever, Amen. And, don’t ask me to say any part of that, or any variation of that, without meaning it because “the words don’t matter.” Words matter. There are days I wish they didn’t, but I deeply believe they do.
It is the struggle to say what we think that enables us to think. We all know what we are supposed to say about God (and our grandmother’s apple pie). And, we know where what we are supposed to say begins to part company with what we wish we could say, or with what we might say if we allowed ourselves to think about it, but why bother when you can’t say it anyway, so the old formulas stay in place, and we say the drivel that keeps us from thinking anything that hasn’t been thought—that keeps us from thinking at all. Words matter.
We have to do the work of saying what we mean, and of thinking about what we say, and of moving away from what we are supposed to say to what we have to say, to what may never be said if we don’t say it. That is, as much as anything else, the true work of being human, the true work of the human soul, what, you might say, we are here for.
Healing, which is different from curing, is about resolving the conflicts that keep us from living with integrity-of-being; that keep us from integrating our living with the values that are at the heart of life; that keep us from living aligned with that which is deepest, best, and truest about us; that keep us from being centered in, and living out of, that which is most important. Illness, which is different from disease, is soul-sickness, indicating an out-of-synch-ness between our lives and our souls.
Or not. What do I know? If we lived soulfully, mindfully, justly and compassionately, in synch with the deepest, best, and truest about us, I’d like to think we would be healed, and whole, and fully human, even if we had AIDS, or cancer, or heart disease. But, we might have as many tics and inhibitions, and deficiencies as anyone ever. Let’s check it out. Are the soulful, mindful, in-synch people you know also what you would call healed, and whole, and fully-functioning, and fully-human, and the most god-like people you know? Live in observation. Keep a record. Let me know.
If I’m right, if healing is about resolving inner conflict and living with integrity, then our work is clear. By practicing presence in the world (being with what God is with and loving what God loves without having to convert, change, alter, transform, improve, perfect—just being with in loving, supportive, compassionate, accepting ways) we become healing agents, facilitating the resolution of conflict and the consummation of integrity—just by being the right kind of company.
Being the right kind of company is a complete act of faith. We have to believe in the importance of being the right kind of company before we see evidence of it. We have to step, trusting and unseeing, into being the right kind of company. It is hard to believe that being the right kind of company alone has the power to transform the world, or to change anything or anyone. Well. Believing is seeing. You’ll never see it if you don’t believe it. This doesn’t mean playing tricks on yourself and believing something to the point of imagining that you actually see it. It means acting as though something is true in order to enable it to actually become true. We believe healing into existence by living in ways that produce healing before we see evidence of the validity of living in those ways. It’s Faith Healing in the truest sense of the term.