Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Appearing and Disappearing God

Does God hide?

I don't think I am alone in wondering how and why it is that God seems to appear and disappear - at times to be close and at other times to be quite distant. St. Simeon the New Theologian relates his experience:

I have often seen the light, sometimes it has appeared to me within myself, when my soul possessed peace and silence, sometimes it has appeared only at a distance, and at times it was even hidden completely. Then I experienced great affliction, believing that I would never see it again. But from the moment when I began to shed tears, when I bore witness to a complete detachment from everything, and to an absolute humility and obedience, the Light appeared once again, like the sun which dissipates the thickness of the clouds and reveals itself little by little, bringing joy. Therefore thou, Unspeakable, Invisible, Untouchable One, moving all things, revealing thyself and hiding thyself at every hour, thou hast disappeared and appeared before me day and night.

So it would seem that God is involved in some sort of elaborate game of hide and seek. But is this so, does God hide Himself from us? Is He playing games with us? It certainly does seem like that. But St. Simeon has more to say as he continues relating his experience:

Slowly thou hast dispelled the darkness which was in me, thou hast dissipated the cloud which covered me, thou hast opened my spiritual hearing, thou hast purified the pupil of the eye of my spirit. Finally having formed me according to thy will, thou hast revealed thyself to my shining soul, becoming invisible to me once more. And suddenly thou didst appear as another sun, O ineffable divine condenscension... O thou, who hast no place to hide thyself; for thou hast never hidden thyself from sight, never hast thou despised any one, but rather it is we who have hidden ourselves, unwilling to approach Thee.

So it is not that God disappears but rather that it is we who are like Adam and Eve, shunning our Creator. Is this a game? No,I suggest we ought to understand this as a healing process, as life long path to restoration, towards healing, towards beholding the Light. It is we who are blind, who are sick and need to come to learn to see our Physician who awaits us, who never left nor hid Himself.

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