Many years ago I wrote a poem I titled, “Where Do I Find God?” It wasn’t a good poem or a bad poem, just a poem, an effort to speak some truth.

As often happens when I sit down to write, poetry or prose, I start out thinking I’m going someplace but end up being directed to another.

When I write, I am at least as much spoken to as speaking. The last line of that poem makes the point. “Where do I find you God? I don’t. You find me.”

Another story of a journey that didn’t go as planned, or at least as hoped for, happened to me one summer a number of years ago when I took three of my five grandsons on a cross-country drive.

I prepared with maps, sites to look for along the way and books on CDs set in country we would be driving through, etc.

My hidden agenda was that they would ask me about “the meaning of life.” I was prepared to share, but they never asked.

I loved sharing the journey with them but regretted that the opening to talk with them about what I wanted most for them to know never came up. At least I was smart enough not to burden them with what would seem to them to be abstractions without handles, which my answers to questions they were not ready to ask would have been.

A few months after the trip, the whole family was sitting around a dinner table and I told the story of never being asked. The oldest of the three who made the trip with me responded, “We didn’t have to ask, Dupah (That’s my grandboys’ name for me.). We know that you think the meaning of life is relationships.” Close enough. We didn’t talk about it on that trip. We lived it.

My hope now is that they will come to know how big the concept of relationship is, how deep into our hearts and souls and the cosmos relationship, as the essence of reality and grace, extends.

Martin Buber gave us direction toward that understanding when he wrote, “There is no reality without relationship.”

Dame Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century English Christian mystic, spoke of a key, an approach that opens the doors of ever deepening relationship, when she said, “The soul is highest, noblest, worthiest when it is lowest, humblest, gentlest.” What I take from this – and there is more – is that humility is key to relationships that lead to love/Love.

You can see now why it is just as well my grandsons didn’t ask me about life’s meaning.

They got what they were ready for when they were ready. They weren’t ready for Buber or Julian. I wasn’t either at their age.

But, on the chance that you may be ready for more of where Julian can take us, or at least curious, here is what she said that speaks to me about relationship with God: “We come from the womb of God: we are made ‘of God.’ God is in everything. God is nature’s substance, the very essence of life.”

J. Phillip Newell sums this up for me in his discussion of Julian’s wisdom in his book “Christ of the Celts.” “What Julian hears is ‘we are all one.’ … And any true well-being in our lives will be found not in isolation but in relation(ship).”

Teilhard de Chardin says that which is found in authentic relationship is “presence.”

I’m tagging this thought onto these reflections for two reasons: to invite your imagination into exploring God as presence and to alert you to my next column in which I’ll explore the idea that relationship with the presence is not only to all other people but to the Earth.

At least that is where I think I’ll be going in our next Reflections journey together.

Bill Gregory is an author and retired UCC minister. He can be contacted at:

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