God is a tool. Um, that came out wrong. Let me explain.
I had to give up on the great God debate. It was wearisome. Does God exist? Is God real? I had to come to the conclusion that I had to believe in God because I couldn’t live my days believing otherwise. I had to commit to a higher power or kill myself. Yeah, I know, dramatic, but this is my blog and this is my truth.
So I’m a lapsed atheist. The God idea is fundamental to who I am.
It’s kind of like when someone asked Carl Jung if he thought God exists. Jung said, “I don’t believe! I know!”
To know! Fundamental!
But in the end, I’m not too interested in the actual existence of God. I mean, if God is unknowable, then there is no point in trying to figure it all out. Might as well not worry too much about it and go to more baseball games and smoke cigars and watch Buffy.
That’s one camp. The other camp would say that the only way to know the unknowable is to seek, and it is in the seeking that we find.
Dude, did I just get all zen for a minute?
Maybe. But it’s true.
My friend Susan Deax-Keirns would always tell me, “What we go seeking for, we go seeking with.”
The deep “God” parts of us know truth, meaning, divinity, and those parts wake up when we go on quests for universal truth and courage.
Did I just go all Church of Religious Science? Maybe, but it’s true.
So the God idea is just that, an idea, a tool, that we can use to ease our pain, to find meaning, to give us courage. Does the God idea have to be factual?
Is Harry Potter factual? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no, Harry Potter is not a factual account of a child wizard. But how much joy, comfort, and solace have people felt reading the Harry Potter books? I know for me, I had just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath and The Making of the Atomic Bomb and I was feeling world weary—I needed a story to take me away and tell me the world is good. And the Harry Potter books did just that.
Darn, this post is prolly controversial. But I don’t want it be. If you believe God is factual, you are right. God is the ultimate fact, the ultimate reality. And if you believe God is a fairytale told to little children to get them to sleep at night, you are right, God is a story.
But if God is everything, God can be both, right? God is EVERYTHING and God is NOTHING.
I love the story about the first Sikh guru who went on a quest to Mecca and along the way, he stumbled into a little guest house at midnight completely exhausted. The Sikh Guru fell asleep with his feet pointing at Mecca. Well, the owner of the guest house was furious. “How can you dishonor Mecca with how you are sleeping?!?!” The Sikh Guru, still half-asleep, said, “Tell me where God isn’t, and I will point my feet there.”
I’m not pointing my feet at Mecca. Tell me what God is not, and I’ll write about that.
When I met Bree Ervin, well, everyone has a “how I met Bree Ervin” story, but here is mine. I was walking through a crowded hotel lobby at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and I bumped into this red-headed demon, who said, and I quote, “I’m Bree, and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I needed to meet you.” And meet me she did. We talked about God, atheism, faith, hope, love, and the greatest of these…is love. I love Bree Ervin. She is a dynamo: writer, publicist, wife, mother, poet, warrior, queen. And so, I enlisted her to write a blog on angels, thinking she would say no.
She said yes. This is the result. Take it away, Bree!
* * *
The truth is, I don’t believe in angels. I don’t believe in God. Or Hell. Or Demons. Or the Devil either. I am an Atheist.
That might seem like a contradiction. After all didn’t I open with the promise of not believing in angels, with the statement that I am a militant Atheist?
Sure. But in this, like in most things in life, you have to look a little closer.
I don’t believe in semi-divine beings with wings and a penchant for fighting over God’s favor. I find there is quite enough of that down here in the human realm, why sully up the heavens with it?
And yet, it turns out that angels, real honest to goodness angels are, in fact, everywhere. And no, I’m not talking about the Victoria’s Secret babes either, they’re even more improbable than the little godlets we all get so worked up about.
I mean angels. Real angels.
Let me explain.
Angel means messenger.
It comes from the Greek – ἄγγελος and before that, the Hebrew – מלאך. Both of these words mean messenger. In fact, if you read the Bible in its original form you will discover that most of the angels described in its pages are not supernatural, paranormal beings with wings – but people. That’s all, just people. People with a message.
Some of these angels became prophets or priests. Some were just one time runners. Many became scapegoats.
I tell you this, not to take away whatever magic or power you wish to imbue the world with, because while I may not believe in God or angels, I do believe in Magic. No, I tell you this to open your eyes and mind and heart to the magic and power that really is here.
Because when we break through the semantics of what we’d like an angel to be, to discover what an angel actually is, a shift happens. A very important shift.
Suddenly angels are everywhere.
When we begin to look at the world, and the people around us, as if they might hold a piece of the divinity we seek, we open ourselves to a new realm of possibility. It is one that we do not have to tithe for, or pray for, or be judged by. It is not one we have to fear. It is, instead, a reality of exaltation.
When you see the person making your morning latte not as a loser who couldn’t do any better, but as a piece of the divine, who just might be carrying a message for you, your perception shifts. You listen closer, you open yourself more, you see deeper.
Then, one day, the full shift comes and you realize that if all of these people that you interact with on a daily basis are part of the divine, then you must be too. If they are your angels, your messengers, then you are theirs. All at once it matters what you say and how you act.
When we see each other not as competition, but as compatriots all trapped in the same endless maze, it becomes that little bit easier to offer a helping hand. When we start to really account for all the help we receive every day from friends, family and anonymous strangers, it goes beyond that and becomes a genuine obligation.
Aaron Ritchey’s book, The Never Prayer, asks the question, “When do we struggle to change the world and when do we let go and embrace life’s broken beauty?”
When we open our eyes to the miracles of life all around us, when we open our hearts to the messages laid out before us, when we begin to see the angels everywhere – the answer becomes simple. We struggle to change the world, always. For we are the angels we’ve been waiting for.
Thanks, Bree, I owe you my life. And dude, you used Greek and Hebrew on my website. I’m so in love with you again.