Growing up, it was my impression that if God was going to speak to you, he would do it directly or through angels. The Old Testament is full of examples: Moses, Abraham, Noah, Lot. In the New Testament, Jesus constantly interprets for others the word of his father. I remember people talking about talking to God. Being young and unsophisticated I naturally assumed that when they spoke to God, God spoke back to them directly in words they could hear inside their head. When I prayed the silence was deafening. Thus began my crisis of faith, which to this day has not been completely resolved.
I sometimes joke that I was born without a faith gene. It is not that I do not want faith; it is more that I do not feel faith. I am an academic in my religion. I have studied religions for years, searching for my faith, hoping that I would stumble upon it if I looked long and hard enough. I searched both monotheistic and polytheistically. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism Paganism. Not once did I hear voices. A psychiatrist might exclaim that this is a good thing. I, however, was disappointed. I wanted to hear the voice of God. I wanted to know his nature and how I fit into the world. I remember once taking an online quiz offering to tell me what religion I identified most with. Turns out I am a "compassionate Quaker" which to me is a redundant statement as I have never met a true Quaker who was not compassionate.
Failing to hear the voice of God I eventually decided that he was not there and I stopped searching for him. I gave up and resigned myself to a bleak existence, which is exactly what I got. I felt hollow for years, my only comfort coming from a life of fruitless diversions of the mind, and an ever-increasing numbness of the soul. I was always willing to talk about religion with religious friends. I was not willing to believe. Over the years I built up quite a body of people praying for me. Apparently it worked: a recent personal crisis propelled the change and a series of events has brought me before you all today.
I have yet to hear God's voice directly and I suspect I may never hear it, but I have come to realize that the entity we describe as God has been speaking indirectly to me my whole life. He spoke to me through the individuals I cared for when I worked for the developmentally disabled. Teaching me what true courage and humanity means. He spoke to me when he gave me the opportunity to see someone die for the first time. Removing my fear of the unknown. He spoke to me in college when I studied geology, biology, chemistry, physics and math. Showing me the interconnectedness of it all. The oneness.
Today he speaks to me when I behold things of incomparable beauty like the bright cloud enshrouded half moon I saw between the pillars of the St Johns Bridge when I recently drove over it. He speaks to me when I see a mother and a child on the playground or hear some piece of music that gives me Goosebumps. He speaks to me every time my wife forgives me for doing something truly stupid and hurtful without my understanding what I have done. I now realize he speaks to me in these ways everyday. Teaching me, guiding me, telling me "Here I am, Here I am" I need only listen.
I also realize that not only does he speak to me daily, he speaks to others through me as well. Every time I offer a hand of love, or compassion, or friendship. Every time I let someone into traffic or open a door. Every time I repair a piece of medical equipment that will help keep someone alive. Every time I share my poetry with others, God speaks through me. I find I am the richer for it. I find that I am grateful.
Thank You for letting me speak to you today.