The God Particle

Unknowing: Week 2

The God Particle
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rick Hocker, a friend and author of the delightful allegory Four in the Garden, recently shared this reflection with me. I hope it will give you a taste of the “unknowing” experience I am trying to describe.

And even for those who seek, God often seems to be elusive. Why? Perhaps it is because God is closer than we can objectively or outwardly see.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). This same God who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16) chooses to dwell inside creation.

Let’s consider a drop of water as a metaphor for God’s indwelling presence. Waterdrops in the atmosphere are created when water vapor condenses on tiny particles of dust. At the center of every waterdrop is a particle. Similarly, every soul is wrapped around a particle of God, but this particle, although small, is boundless since the infinite God isn’t confined. God is found at your innermost center . . . and beyond.

It’s not just that God dwells inside you, but God is at the center of your spiritual makeup, an integral and enduring part of who you are. God is not added to you, but you are added to God. God is the foundation onto which your soul is built. Everyone you meet is also a God-particle wrapped in a soul.

Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) describes the soul as a castle with a series of mansions through which we journey. She wrote that God’s mansion “is the center of the soul itself.” [1] If we were to plunge into our innermost center, we would find God. The practice of contemplation or “centering” ourselves is, in essence, reconnecting with God as our center.

So how do we encounter God when God is found at our center? First, we must believe that our connection to God already exists. Our belief in connection creates connection from our side (we can never not be connected to God). Second, we quiet our minds and peer inward with our heart’s eyes, placing our consciousness at our innermost center as best we can. This inward gazing is like diving into a well, but the well is full of debris. When we encounter debris, we lay hold of it, bring it to the surface, and deal with it courageously. Otherwise, it will block our way. We find God by peeling away ourselves. God is hidden treasure (Matthew 13:44) buried in the center of our souls, and we can find God when we tear away the onionskin layers of self.

If we persevere in clearing this well of its clutter, we’ll discover that the water of this inner well—the water in which we’re swimming—is God. We’ll find ourselves floating in God, encompassed by love. In a wonderful reversal, soul is now wrapped in God, and God moves to the outside as described in John 7:37: From our “innermost being will flow rivers of living water,” which is God’s self spilling out into our life and into the lives of those we touch.

References:
[1] Teresa of Ávila, Interior Castle, trans. E. Allison Peers (Dover: 2007, ©1946), 154.

Rick Hocker, unpublished material. Rick is the author of Four in the Garden, an allegory of relationship with God. Learn more at rickhocker.com.

Image credit: Stars and Clouds at Nighttime (detail), Arnie Chau.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The first time you practice contemplation, you’ll only experience a darkness, like a cloud of unknowing which now happily envelops you. You won’t know what this is . . . You must also know that this darkness and this cloud will always be between you and your God, whatever you do.The Cloud of Unknowing

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