Lately I’ve been revisiting a book that I read a few years ago, The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg. I’m glad I picked it up again, glad to remember that there are words and names and theories and concepts for how I view God and my faith. I was reminded today of the concept of panentheism (God in everything) – perhaps not reminded of the concept really, but of the word for it. And I was reminded of the very distinct instance in my life when I came to realize and appreciate and accept this concept, this understanding of who God is for me and how that relationship is best defined.
It happened underneath the fire tower on the top of a mountain in West Virginia (who’s name escapes me at the moment), not far from my college town. It happened on an afternoon when I was alone – in every possible sense of the word. It happened when I wasn’t expecting much of anything to happen, because not much of anything was happening that made much of any sense at the time.
But somehow in the midst of all that misunderstanding, I clearly gained a sense that God was in it, too – in the same place with the same “feelings” (so to speak). For some great reason, I seemed to comprehend that I was in and with and moving among God, or vice versa. Nothing interventional and nothing special, at least not in the sense of “out of the ordinary” special. Instead, it was more an understanding that this was the most extreme ordinary; the most common, the most prevailing, the most plain and simple and everyday. God was always there – in everything. I just hadn’t recognized it.
Over the past few months I’ve rekindled friendships with several people who I’d lost track of over the years. Some of these reconnections have happened the old fashioned way, through phone calls or letters and ultimately long-overdue visits. A few others have happened over the Web through the convenience of social networking tools and email. Either way, I’ve experienced a very conscious shift in my awareness of the presence of friends in my life. Real friends. Good friends.
And today as I thought about the omnipresent nature of God, I couldn’t help but think of the real gift it has been to realize that these good friends, like God, have also always been there. Because God is also always within friendship. For all of the times over the past years when I’ve missed my good friends so (and still miss them), the truth is they were never really gone. True friendship is always present. We only need to recognize it.