18 June 2006

Where to Look for God

In Every Nook and Cranny of Life
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century, teaches us not direct our glance upward but downward, not aspire to a heavenly transcendence nor seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality, but to fix our gaze upon concrete, empirical reality. Do not confine your search for God to houses of worship for God permeates into every nook and cranny of life. Look for God in the marketplace, the street, the factory, the house, the mall, and the banquet hall. “For God your Lord walks in the midst of your camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:15)

In Our Work and Social Life
The Rebbe of Lubavich, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, emphasizes that it is not enough to rest content with our own spiritual ascent, the elevation of our souls in closeness to God. We must also strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of our involvement with it – our work and our social life – until not only do they not distract us from our pursuit of God, but they become a full part of it.

At Ground Level
In his acclaimed novel, The City of God, E. L. Doctorow echoes these thoughts:

If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture, it will be ground-level, on the street, it’ll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else. It will be cryptic, discerned over time, piecemeal, to be communally understood at the end like a law of science. They’ll put it on a silicon chip.

Everywhere God Looks Back at You
Photographer Jan Phillips writes in her book on photography and creativity, God is at Eye Level, and quotes from Rabbi Elimelech:

My eyes find God everywhere, in every living thing, creature, person, in every act of kindness, act of nature, act of grace. Everywhere I look, there God is looking back, looking straight back…. Whoever does not see God in every place does not see God in any place.