A couple years ago, I started a series of blog posts called “on being human;” amazingly, I only wrote two of them before I wanted to include some concept of God…. and was quickly overcome with the notion that I was underqualified to consider any Supreme Being with my own humble words. That attempt was only one paragraph long: τρία, which would be pronounced “tria,” I believe, is “three” in Greek.
Well, this morning, I rediscovered both this photo and what I’d originally written 26 months ago:
“Pockmarked and headless, the statue is Zeus, rescued from a seabed floor off the coast of Greece. Or perhaps it’s Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods — they mostly seemed to borrow the stories and symbols of the Greek gods. Sacrilegiously, my first thought is that its casual stance reminds me of God reaching out to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”
Hmmm. Casual — God? Like he (or she, though that too is a bit outlandish to my raised-Catholic upbringing) has better things to do than worry about every petty decision each of us happens to make?
That all the wars fought in God’s name were really only human foibles, based on very human motivations like greed for power and wealth?
That illnesses like cancer or conditions like poverty are not punishment but rather ways we can learn more about our own selves and everyone else who shares our planet?
This ancient statue, though it seems quite simple in form, represents in some way the complexity of my own spiritual path. I rarely attend church, but honor those of strong faith who live with conviction. My prayers, meek and people-filled, are heartfelt though not of much standard order. My list of personal funeral music includes plenty of well-loved hymns (though I cannot imagine having a rosary said for me, complete with an open casket, like we did for our Mom three years ago).
I’m fascinated by the history and traditions of churches, and probably have more photos of cathedrals than castles in my collection of travel images. And we’ve been lucky enough to see plenty of the “major” ones.
For example, Hajia Sofia in Istanbul, now a museum, carries its first centuries as a Roman Catholic church and eventual ones as a mosque proudly. I loved crossing a footworn marble doorway, with its restored frescoes of saints above and its giant leather Arabic symbols inside. In that moment, we stepped into another culture quietly (but certainly as outsiders).
Another experience I vividly remember was spending an evening walking around Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and then flying directly to Rome and tootling around Vatican Square the very next morning.
To me, visiting holy spaces, no matter where they are, is all about being respectful. At the monasteries of Meteora in Greece, like other women tourists, I was asked to don a borrowed skirt over my yoga pants before entering. Who wouldn’t comply?
So I’m back to the questyion: why write NOW about God? I’m still just as humbled as when I jotted those notes about the statue. But I’ll bumble along anyway.
Perhaps it’s the sense of wonder as I woke up to the near-full moon shining into our bedroom window today; the notion of the science of the stars, as mind-boggling today, though we know more, as it was in Galileo’s time; the connections I feel with others, far away in miles but close in thought, as I make my daily invocations for their health.
Or maybe it’s just because someone said “God bless” to me this week, and I’m vividly aware of the many many blessings in my life.
Life is too mysterious and short and amazing to think there’s no Higher Power.
So, must simply end with this wish: God bless YOU, today and always.
Third in another month-long series of blog posts —
stay tuned for more March Madness.