Image courtesy of artur84/

Yesterday, I wrote a blog about seeking God and asked my readers to consider how they encounter and experience God in their lives ( I  do not believe it is an accident that I  found an answer to the question of how we encounter God while reading Chittister (2010, The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century)  this afternoon.  I discovered that over 1500 years ago Benedict of Nursia addressed this question. Chittister relates (p. 80)  : “God, Benedict says quite clearly, is within us to be realized, not outside of us to be stumbled upon.”

In addition, Chittister describes the following discussion between a “seeker” and a “teacher” to illustrate this ( p. 81):

“‘How does a person seek union with God?’ the seeker asked.

‘The harder you seek,’ the teacher said, ‘the more distance you create between God and you.’

‘So what does one do about the distance?’

‘Understand that it isn’t there,’ the teacher said.

‘Does that mean that God and I are one?’ the seeker said.

‘Not one. Not two.’

‘How is that possible? ‘ the seeker asked

‘The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the  song. Not one. Not two.’ ”

For some reason, I felt a great sense of relief in reading and realizing the wisdom portrayed in this discussion between student and teacher. I never realized before that God and I together are as natural as “sun and light” or “sea and wave”—-or that we cannot be one or two .  I know from systems theory that the whole is greater and different than the sum of its parts. I had just never looked at God before in terms of systems theory….except perhaps in considering the trinity.

I know my power comes from God. What I need to realize and accept is that God and that power are naturally part of  me….that I don’t have to do anything to encounter or experience God. I just need to realize God is naturally within me so that I will stop searching all over the universe trying to find him.  If I accept that God is naturally within me, it follows that God is naturally within any human being.

I need to carry things a step further and “listen to the words, directions, and insights of the one who is a voice of Christ for me now.” (p.85). In other words, I need to pay attention to and respect the words and opinions of others and not be impatient when they are not similar to mine—-the “God” in them may be trying to tell me something important.   I should have been a bit more patient and respectful of others in my Adult Formation class this morning  at church. I was in a critical frame of mind, and  I  felt like most of the class had been wasted on a discussion of the meanings of words over the centuries rather than what those words mean to us in our own lives.  That is where I missed the boat, in my critical frame of mind I did not really listen, and I may have missed something important God wanted me to know.

This may sound so far “out of the box” to some of you that you’ve already dismissed what I am saying as “nonsense.”  However,  I recognize  12 step principles in what Chittister is saying about “Benedict’s Rule.”  If I admit that I am powerless by myself, realize that God/Higher Power can restore me to sanity, and turn my will and my life over to the God of my understanding, my whole life, existence, and reasons for living are changed.

The biggest difference between the 12 step approach and what Benedict said is that the God I turn things over to is already within myself just waiting for me to realize He’s there—-and that I, therefore, need to treat every human being with the respect I afford God. The question then becomes not “What would Jesus do?” but “What would Jesus within me do?”

Pretty heavy duty stuff.  Please feel free to comment. Thanks for letting me ramble on about it. Hope you are having a beautiful Sunday. May God bless and keep you.