On the presence of God and the color purple

Photo by Steve Givens

In my reading this morning for a class I begin next week, I read the following, which brought me up short because I had forgotten it, even though I read the book mentioned many years ago (and saw the movie):

In [Alice Walker’s novel] The Color Purple, the heroine, Celie, had never been introduced to any image of God other than the old white man with a beard, legalistic and authoritarian. Her friend Shug is much more awakened. Celie is astonished: she says to Shug, “You telling me God love you, and you ain’t never done anything for him? I mean, not go to church, sing in the choir, feed the preacher and all like that?” But Shug’s God is a lover who is “always wanting to share a good thing,” who is “pissed off if we walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” (from The Art of Spiritual Guidance, Carolyn Gratton)

Oh yeah. Now I remember…powerful reminder.

Photo by Steve Givens

I don’t have much to add to these thoughts because they are so spot on. I just got back from church, and there I experienced God because I sought and found him in the readings, in the music, in the great sacrament of the Eucharist and in the body of believers gathered around me.  But I also know that the God I love and worship is bigger than that room and smart enough to know that all will not seek him there. God can never be confined to a building or to a set of beliefs. He cannot be bound even by sacred scripture and the most intimate experiences of sacrament and prayer, however real and powerful I believe those to be. He is there in those sacred moments in church, surely, but he is not limited by that experience.  How could the creator of the universe be? And why would he want to be?

Photo by Steve Givens

But neither is God hard to find, nor is he only for the initiated, favored or chosen. God is present to all of us, whether we recognize it or not, whether we choose to thank him or not. He is present in the incessant chirping of the cicadas outside my door, in the flow of water down a mountain stream and in the rising and setting of the sun. God cannot and will not be separated from these sure signs of his creation. God is in the sacredness of our ordinary lives and in the mundane tasks we carry out everyday. God is as readily found, if we look, as the noses on our face or the color purple. Just look.

For more on this topic, you can read an earlier post, “Standing Still and Learning to Be Astonished.

Photo by Steve Givens

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