Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Swallowing God


A Hindu spoke this comment:  “I know Christians. They are the people who swallow God.”  **
 
I sat in the quiet of my front living room in the early morning hours. The clocks all ticking. The sunlight beginning to fall out on the worn hardwood floor. I am up this morning early even though I had the chance to sleep in beside my husband. But I woke with a restlessness, an anticipation for the day. I sat down to pray and read. And read the above sentence in a worn little book I found in the clearance section of a local used bookstore. (Occasionally I find treasures there.)
The people who swallow God.
This comment is an allusion to Communion. The bread and the wine. The broken bread and the poured wine. They are his body and his blood. Given to us as a gift to remember. To be reminded of what He did, of what he is doing. Of his purpose in coming. Of his calling. Of his mission.
And when we swallow down the broken and swallow down the poured we are swallowing to remember His sacrifice.
The sentence caught me off guard. I didn’t like it at first. It rubbed me wrong.
To swallow God?
What are the implications?
I sat here in this living room with all my doubts and cynicisms and chewed on this sentence for a while. Sat here with the pages of this little book and my green pen (closest one to me) and marked the pages so I wouldn’t forget. Marked that particular paragraph so I could reread the words. Marked them so they would not be like the fiction which I move over with rapidity to fill an overworked mind.  
Communion is so we don’t forget.
The breaking of bread and the pouring of wine is so we don’t forget.
So we might swallow God.
I sat here and imagined swallowing God.
And I envisioned my frail tent-body attempting to hold him—the walls of me extending and stretching.  
To swallow God and hold him in close is not the goal or purpose. To swallow him and absorb him so he might be broken and shared with others—this is the purpose.
When I swallow down God the swelling of his infinite Presence will fill and expand me. Then out of all the pores I have been trying so hard to diminish, trying so hard to make go away, pin lights of him will shoot.
Out of every pore a laser light shining. Beaming out in little narrow streams. Out of every pore of me.
I want to swallow God.
Meditate on Him. Stand in his Presence. Swallow Him down and allow him to fill me to such a capacity that I cannot hold him and my pores open.
Recently in a post on Ann Voskamp’s blog she shared a conversation with her sister. Her sister was in labor and she asked Ann to remind her of her visual for getting through the pain of labor. Of birthing. Ann tells her to imagine her body as being a sandbag with many holes and that the sand slowly seeps out…leaks out all the holes.
Ann’s visual stuck with me. For days I sat with this thought.
In order to swallow God we have to be emptied. There is not room for him if we are filled with many other things. I cannot swallow him down if I am full of other stuff.
I sat with Ann’s thought for days. I imagined myself as this leaking sandbag. The sand spilling out—the grains sliding toward the hole. And the flesh bag of me becoming flatter and flatter.
I was surprised at what leaked out—of what poured out of the holes. I realized that not only did the negative need to pour out, but even some of the positive. Things that were good that I held close—filling up my bag. All the good stuff I have collected over the years. It too needed to slide through the hole onto the ground.
At first I thought this would be a waste. Surely this sand was good for something?
Then Steve and I helped my daughter and son-in-law lay their patio.
I watched Steve and David cut holes in the sand bags and pour out the sand on the dirt. The sand piled high and the bags emptied. Then Katherine spread the sand on the dirt to create a foundation for the stone pavers. I watched her rake the sand. Pulling the straight metal edge of the rake across the sand’s surface. Then David came, sat down right on the edge of the patio and placed each paver on that very sand.
And I remembered.
God never wastes anything. Every grain of sand is accounted for.
But, I must be emptied in order to swallow God.
The holes and leaks and pores of me will provide the pathways for the sand stuff to pour from me.
When I am finally emptied, and I am not sure how long this will take, there seems to be a great deal of sand stuff in me, then I can swallow down God.
Like the broken bread and the poured wine.
And I will remember.
And there will be room for Him. But this frail tent-body won’t be able to hold him and he will pour out of the pores of me.
 Are we the people who swallow God?
Do we have room to swallow Him?
Is there space in these sand-bag bodies? To hold the very Presence of God?
When we chew the bread and drink the wine of Communion do we have room to swallow it down? To allow God to swell in us?
I am too full.
Over the next while I am asking God to leak the sand out of me. To break me open and let the sand slide right out. Poured out on the ground. Then he can take it and use it however he wants. For whatever purpose.
And when I am emptied, then He will have room to fill me with himself. I am praying for him to allow me to swallow him down.
I want to swallow God and then open my pores wide open—like windows to sunlight.

  

**(This comment was said to Ed Farrell, page 37 in Robert Benson’s book Living Prayer.)