That is from the Leonard Bernstein Mass written in memory of John F. Kennedy in the late 60s, and maybe it dates me – as it should – but I still think the question is a good and important one. Does God believe in me? Because if God CAN believe in me, then that says something about how particularly and intimately the universe is “hitched up” together, as John Muir put it.
It is one thing to allow the chance that there’s a watchmaker out there, winding it up and setting it on the mantle; but to take the chance that we – each of us – in threaded through with the same sanctity, the same spirit, that there is an analogy of being between us and the creative centre of the whole thing. And more than this: that we might be of great value, being made, cherished and named out of some deep and intimate love. That is a different cosmology entirely.
I’ve said it before: a god is anything that offers a blessing and asks for a sacrifice, the civilised world is crowded with them. But still, the question that calls me into both deeper solitude and more intentional community, making me sometimes less comfortable and usually a better neighbor, is this: what if God can come that close, moment by moment, over time and space, here and now?
Enough of weighty theologies! I am writing this in Caffeine, the coffee house in the centre of the Agora at La Trobe. Inside people are lining up for coffee, and sitting reading, writing, and in conversation. There is a buzz of voices, some laughter, a voice asking, “Can I help anybody? Who’s next?” And if I look around carefully, seeing only what is in front of me, but looking with as much discernment and care as I can exercise, than the answer is clear. God is here.
Laurence Freeman will be giving an address here in two hours. I have heard his tapes and read some of his stuff on meditation, very much in the tradition of Merton, Main, the “Centering Prayer” people and so many in the mystical tradition. This very noisy man will be interested in, and needing to hear, his talk on prayer. If you are on campus at 1:00PM, join us at the HUEED lecture theatre.