There are a couple possible explanations for what happened to me this morning. One, is that I was abducted by aliens a la X-Files. Another is that I have brain damage caused by getting to the gym regularly. As much as I enjoy watching science fiction I’m reasonably sure I stayed earthbound this morning. I also think at my age my heart would go long before my brain from exercise. No, this lost time has another explanation but I need to share a little background before naming it.
The Divine, the One that I call God, began stirring things up for me in 2001 and moving me toward accepting a Call toward ordained ministry. I had just left a session at the NYSAEYC State Conference led by Geoffrey Canada. I called my wife from outside the hall where he had spoken. I recall telling her that a big change was coming in my life. I wasn’t sure what it was but I had a moment of clarity courtesy of the Holy Spirit. This, however, is not about the details of my Call. Not today. My point here is that my calling has been and continues to be like the peeling of an onion. I’m on a need-to-know basis with God. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” who John reports Jesus as saying, “will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you’” has been peeling the onion ever since. (John 14: 26-27 NRSV)
Onion peels have been piling up on the floor at an increasing rate in the last six-months. At times the smell of peeling onion has brought me to tears: tears of awe, tears of disbelief at what is revealed, tears of joy, and the occasional unexplained tears. All the tears are gifts of the Holy Spirit and I embrace them as I did my daughter on the day she was born. Just as the pace of technological and cultural change is accelerating in all of our lives, the movement of God in my life is accelerating. Both can be wonderful. Both can leave me a little overwhelmed. God’s movement in my life is both the cause and antidote to the whiplash that I feel at times.
One of God’s cathartic onion peels fell to the floor this morning. It was somewhere between Limp Bizkit and Mandisa on my iPod soundtrack that I lost ten minutes. So, where was I during that missing time? I was in communion with the Divine, with the One who loves each one of us extravagantly. I was with and within the arms of One who held me and my anxieties, the One who is calling me to a new thing and filling the floor with onion peels.
I left the gym this morning with more than better health and tear stained cheeks. I left the gym with the reminder, the revelation, that as I move forward on this path of faith that God doesn’t exist in a box, a gothic cathedral, a brick building built in the Seventies, in the woods, or even on a treadmill at my local Y. God is at all those places and within all those places. God is with you and with me and within both of us.
The extravagantly loving Divine One, whatever name by which we refer, reaches out to us. The Spirit can and does commune (communicate and manifest) with us in many different ways and places. When we turn from the Divine, hurting one another, when we use holy texts as weapons to exclude and hate, when we kill in God’s name, when we create god in our image instead of seeing the holy in each of us, we harm not only ourselves but God.
I yearn for the day when we will fully embrace the divinity within, between, and all around us. Until then, I will accept each onion peel as it comes and do my best to follow the Divine to where I am called.