Monday, October 15, 2007

Kaleidoscope

A couple of weekends ago at an afternoon retreat someone asked a question.

What is your view of God?”

The question struck me oddly. The word “view” caused me to be a little off-kilter. The question was fine. Nothing wrong with the retreat leader's choice of words...just happened to be the way I was hearing and interpreting them.

For me, “to view” simply means to observe, to look at. This can be done passively. You do not have to react or participate.

I do not want to passively view God. I do not want to simply look at him. I want to participate with and in him. I want to join John and the other disciples and behold him. To behold involves an inner reaction. Beholding engages your inner posture and interior attitude.

Another leader's answer to this question caught my attention. She explained that her view of God was like a prism. Her perspective was affected by the angle of the facet that was reflecting the light. Turn the prism, and you see another facet—a different color. Same prism. As she described this I thought of a kaleidoscope.

Remember when we were children, and we would buy the cheap kaleidoscopes in the dime stores? They were little cardboard tubes not much bigger than a toilet paper roll, but vividly decorated. I would squint my eye and look through the tiny eye aperture and rotate the cylinder. I loved all the pieces of glass spilling and turning and shifting. They created different images with even the slightest turn.

Perfectly symmetrical, precisely balanced.

The last time I looked through a kaleidoscope was in an eclectic art boutique
several years ago. For a few moments I was a child again; I was fascinated and intrigued.

These kaleidoscopes were not cardboard. They were exquisite. But I pressed my eye close to the small opening anyway, and I rotated the cylinder. Even now I can see the geometrically perfect designs appear. I can see the explosion of color. And I can hear the percussion of sound.

The kaleidoscope allows you to do more than view. You get to participate. You are engaged because you can turn the cylinder as much or as little as you want. Your eyes dilate as the different pieces catch the light and shift the reflections and change the patterns. If you rotate and shift even a millimeter then a new pattern forms.

Ever the same. Ever changing.


What is my view of God?

My view of God is seen through the small aperture of my reality.

My kaleidoscope view of God is seen through a cardboard tube that can only
contain so much. It is limited. Finite. And there are times when my mirrors are
dusty and askew. But...

Just when I think I have moved the tube in every possible way--

Just when I think I have seen every pattern--

I rotate my kaleidoscope closer to the light and the pattern changes yet again.

And for a brief moment I behold just a fraction of Him.

Just a fraction, but it is enough.

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