© Noel Harrower 2018
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                                 God is beyond human comprehension, but this does not indicate that there is no God.  Disbelief arises from the fact that human minds are limited and are inclined to adopt familiar concepts. Over the centuries, civilisations have created an image of God as a super being. I do not see God as a being at all. Perhaps this creative energy is best described as Sacred Wisdom. Although we cannot comprehend the mystery, it is important that we try to get glimpses of it. Darwin has unveiled the mystery of evolution and most of us now believe it. In the light of this, what is meant by the Biblical statement that “Man is made in the image of God?” Should it be denied? I don’t think so. Certainly, it is impossible now to see ourselves as the supreme achievement. We are a species and our physical bodies are clearly related to others, but the fact remains that we have been gifted with the power of intelligence, imagination, speech and the ability to create. Is this just chance? I don’t believe so. Perhaps we were gifted in this way so that we can image creative wisdom. What other known creature has the power and understanding to explain the laws of natural selection? Our spirituality is demonstrated variously in different cultures. Just as species are varied across the globe, so our human cultures and the deities reflect our habitat. Creative wisdom is imaged differently in India, China, the Middle East and the Western World. Each vision has its own virtue. Thank God for that! God is a feeling of the heart, rather than a concept of the mind. Feelings are every bit as important as ideas. We deny them at our peril. We are living in an insecure, materialistic society, where the media creates much of the news, crowns the celebrities and decides on “the top story of the day.” TV sets dominate our living spaces, and emotions shaped by the media, take the forms into which they are poured. This helps to build an artificial world in which, beneath the ceaseless demands of our 24-hour culture, human beings subconsciously yearn for new myths, and identify with TV pack-leaders. Pent up feelings then break out, sometimes in violence and sometimes in huge outpourings of grief. As a young man, I left the church because I felt it did not seem prepared to take a moral stand on huge issues such as nuclear weapons, war and peace, great wealth and great poverty.  Instead I became a campaigner, with such bodies as CND and the United Nations Association, but later in life, through the promptings of an Indian spiritual movement called the Brahma Kumaris, I came to realise that to effect any real change from materialistic values, it was essential to inculcate a strong spiritual consciousness. I learned their meditation techniques and went to a wonderful international peace conference on a mountain top in Rajasthan, where I met some of the most spiritual people on earth, and came away bemused and bewildered.  I started reading widely and later became involved in the Interfaith Movement. Eventually I came back to Christianity because it gave me the framework and the discipline I needed within a culture I understood. A group pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, where sixteen of us explored Celtic Christianity, and shared our spiritual journeys helped enormously. I remain dissatisfied with many churches, but have found one broad enough to accommodate my views, and dare to call myself a Christian because, although I challenge traditionalists and see many Bible stories as metaphorically true, I try to follow the path that Jesus taught. Of course I fall short, but I find it well worth the effort.   I now find that the concept of the Trinity, which was once a mystery to me, makes more sense. I see God as a neutral, creative energy force, with Love as one of its strands. This strand reaches down to human beings through the Holy Spirit, which is made manifest in some holy people. Personally, I find the best reflection in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but I accept that others will find their divine inspiration elsewhere. We can all be transceivers for this flow of loving energy. Indeed it is our birthright. I was born in the north of England with Scottish ancestry, worked mainly in the Midlands and have now retired to the south coast. This is reflected in my prayer routine. The day usually begins with a quiet period of meditation. I do a simple body prayer facing the four directions, which for me represent my birthplace, heritage and family (the north), the beginning of a new day with all its possibilities (the east), my present home- town, church and current responsibilities, (the south) and my great adventure of discovery now drawing towards its close with the going down of the sun (the west). For me, prayer is not a matter of sending God a wish list, but rather of way of tuning in to the right wavelength. There are many frequencies in the ether. Human beings are all transceivers and capable of receiving messages from the Holy Spirit (the Christ Spirit if you are a Christian) and of passing this blessing on to others. I believe this is why we are here. Other creatures have different qualities and fulfil themselves in other ways, sometimes travelling vast distances by primeval instinct, but I feel that we human beings become a toxic species if we do not accept our birthright and use it purposefully.  I am now a member of the Exmouth Transition Town Movement and feel strongly that the churches should be giving a much greater moral lead on climate change and global issues, but at least I can fight for this from the inside. Human beings seem to be uniquely empowered to do this. What other species on earth can tell the story of climate change? Our responsibility is awesome. One way of doing this is to be a member of a congregation of worshippers, and to play and pray your part in that community. Without this company, I can feel isolated and dis- empowered. I have chosen to join a United Reformed Church which has a broad approach and I go to meetings of the Progressive Christian Movement, which identifies with some of the ideas of Mathew Fox, Marcus Borg and Bishop Jack Spong. The discipline of church membership has given new meaning to my life. I have responsibilities as an elder, and also as a trustee of The Open Door Centre, a Christian charity in Exmouth, which runs a coffee bar and provides practical help and advice to needy and vulnerable people. This is the practical application of my spirituality. Below is my credo:                                   God can be felt, but not identified Quantum Physics suggests that everything in the Universe, including human kind is composed of a network of particles and waves and that everything is connected. There are no tangible boundaries between material objects and the space around them. It follows that all creatures, plants, the earth and the air itself relate to each other. We are then quite mistaken if we feel we have a right to dominate other species. Instead, we have the ability to appreciate our place in the web of life. This could be a unique and intentional gift of understanding, although perhaps other creatures sense this instinctively. As we are part of the environment, seeing ourselves as separate from it, or even worse as superior, helps to destroy the balance of the whole delicate ecological structure. Something creates and maintains all this. We do not understand this something, but down the ages human kind has recognised this and named it. In our language the word is God. The North American Indians spoke of Sacred Mystery and the Hindus call the life principle Atman. There is no way that we can comprehend God because it is out of our range. If we try to understand God, we run the risk of reducing it in our imagination. Most Christians see him in their own image – a super-being or father figure. It then becomes easy for others to scoff at an image of human creation. The closest we can get is to say that God is the intangible energy force which maintains the universe and that although it cannot be codified, it can be felt when we focus our attention on the wave aspects of ourselves rather than the particle aspect. All civilizations have recognized this vibration. They have usually encoded it in their great myths, which are the closest they can get to truth. When they cease to believe their myths, the civilizations begin to fade away. As they wane, new civilizations are born. This has to happen, it is part of the programme, just as ice melts and day follows night.  Whenever the civilization loses touch with the vibrant heart of creation it is not playing its true role. It is redundant and the cords are broken. Is this what we are now seeing in our own so called secular society, where parents are distracted from the natural world by constant material bombardment and many children are growing up without the three essential values of faith, hope and love? In summary, the unknown God will never be seen, only felt, but its reflection can be found in the sayings and writings of the great masters who have felt this vibration so strongly that it left a deep imprint on their lives and teachings. Such messages are as essential for human well-being as the migratory instincts of birds, animals and fish in their own lifecycles.                              ------------------------------------------------------------- Noel Harrower
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