I believe that every act of theologizing is an autobiographical act. One cannot detach from our own subjectivity, experiences, history and socialization to theologize ex-nihilo. I bring all of myself to this enterprise. If, as Saint Paul’s states, I move and find my being in God who traverses being, then all of me plays an integral part in grasping what little I could grasp of God. So it is important then to set up the location from where I speak, although I will not go into the fullest of my own personal make-up and mystery. I speak from the posi- tion of having been stung by the question of God. I, like the Psalmist, thirst and desire God.
My first thought of God comes from practicing the old Puerto Rican tradition of asking my parents and older relatives for a blessing “¿La bendición?” to which the relatives will re- spond “Que Dios te bendiga.” As I reflect on this practice (which I continue with my kids), my first experiences of God were not through explanation of God’s existence of what God might be, but in an action from God. There is quite an intense spiritual reality at the core of this act of love and respect that kids engage with older family members. The child ask for words of blessings, words of comfort, and protection, something that the adults defer to God,as the one who can make those things happen. Que Dios te bendiga verbalizes the desire that the adult relatives have for the child to experience wholeness and goodness.
As I grew up, I pondered the question of what is that which adults say gives the blessing. The answer continually was God the Father, which was a bitter image for me to consume. God, as the father who might be the one bestowing a blessing, was complicated for me in my early years. It was difficult for me to correlate the goodness of the Father in the dysfunctionality of my father. And yet, in an enigmatic way, this woundedness plowed the way for me to be open to encounter the Father through the redemption of my own father. Although, I have entered into a healthy approach of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, my thirst for God is not satisfied. I am constantly propelled and drawn to peel concepts and ideas of God. My own sense of call to ministry comes out the woundedness of a God who keep prodding me to undo my notions of God.
Every Puerto Rican of my generation could nostalgically quote two TV commercial of our childhood. One is about paint, the other is about God. “El hombre del siglo 20 es un hombre solo” sternly stated the Rev. Mario Rivera Mendez senior pastor of Barbara Ann Roessler Memorial Church in Cupey, Puerto Rico through the magic of TV in the mid- 1980’s. In the commercial Rev. Rivera shared what he believed to be problems people might come across without God. At the end of the commercial Rev. Rivera invited the viewers to find the answers to all their questions in God, “Dios es la respuesta a tus preguntas.” While I understand his desire to present God as a relevant option to a struggling society, the commercial was troubling in two accounts. First, God was suggested to be merely an objective being as a choice for people to select among other options. Second, it presented God confined within the close-ended paradigm of answer. An answer, as a sentence is traditionally followed by a period. After the period the sentence is dead.
An answer serve a purpose, although when the period, its vigor is extinguished. God as an answered is consumed and discarded. By contrast, what if God then is not the answer, but the question. Questions end with an amusing little symbol reminiscent of a key. Questions unlock the possible within the expected and specified. Questions, unlike answers, do not extinguish themselves, they go supernova, radiating powerful energy bringing about possibility and promise.
“…I am aware of the need for constant self-revision and growth, leaving behind the renunciation of yesterday and yet in continuity with all my yesterdays. For to cling to the past is to lose one’s continuity with the past, since this means clinging to what is no longer there.
My ideas are always changing, always moving around one centre, and I am always seeing that centre from somewhere else.
Hence I will always be accused of inconsistency. But I will no longer be there to hear the accusation…”
Thomas Merton, A Vow of Conversation: Journals 1964-1965, p.19.
Via Prodigal Kiwi(s) Blog: Not “Clinging to What is No Longer There”..
This summer I baked lots of bread. I have this pesky idea that if I am in the process of being ordain as a priest, who will be sharing bread in a sacred manner, then it is important for me to be experience the sacredness of bread from the very act of baking it.