Playing pick-a-boo with God
Sometime ago the thought for a posting titled “Playing pick-a-boo with God” came to mind following an interesting interplay with my two-year old daugther but I never had the time to follow up and write it. I feel, the time now is right.
Here is the original story that prompted the idea for the title:
One evening, as I was putting my younger daughter to bed she was playing a bit rough, poking me in my face as I was laying next to her in the dark room. In my attempt to protect myself, I covered my face with two hands. As I did that, she got very concerned that I had disappeared and started calling on me “Daddy, Daddy!”. I was, of course, just there with her, but you know how little ones react — if they don’t see your face, they think you are not there. The moment I opened my two hands and she could see my face, she sighed with relief and exclaimed “I love you Daddy!” It was a very sweet moment and I tried it again — she started poking my face, I hid it behind my hands, she started asking where I was even though I was next to her, and the moment I uncovered my face, she would say with relief and joy that she loved me.
So, that story made me think about our love for the heavenly Father and our need to see Him in order to make sure He loves us too. Of course, He does love us, and not seeing Him does not mean He is not there, next to us, lovingly supporting us in our growth. Yet, immature as we are spiritually, we want the proof He is there.
But then even when He does show us He is there, we pull back and pretend He is not.
So, we play this pick-a-boo game with God…
Now, I don’t object the idea of playfulness in our interaction with God — I am pretty sure God has a good sense of humor, and A LOT OF LOVE for us all (otherwise we would all be in deep trouble). What I am thinking of is the delusion that God is not there when we don’t look at Him; I am talking about the delusion that God is not seeing when we are not seeing Him.
The only mature response to this is the constant reminder that God is indeed, near us, every second of our life:
O My servants! Deprive not yourselves of the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory. Let the flame of the love of God burn brightly within your radiant hearts. Feed it with the oil of Divine guidance, and protect it within the shelter of your constancy. Guard it within the globe of trust and detachment from all else but God, so that the evil whisperings of the ungodly may not extinguish its light. O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. If no one be willing to direct his steps towards its shores, if every one should fail to arise and find Him, can such a failure be said to have robbed this ocean of its power or to have lessened, to any degree, its treasures? How vain, how contemptible, are the imaginations which your hearts have devised, and are still devising! O My servants! The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 325)
The reason I started thinking of this again was my reading for an online class I am talking now at the Wilmette Institute on Islam. One of the fascinating things I am discovering is the gentleness of Islam (in its original message as conveyed in the Qu’ran), where there is no concept of original sin but awareness that man is forgetful. Thus, the need for the constant Remembrance of God.
I am a Baha’i and mercifully God has ordained only one daily obligatory prayer rather than five of them, but the concept is the same: the need to remind myself of God’s constant presence is a key to my spiritual advancement. When I read Tablets of Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l Baha, and even memoirs of early Baha’is, they always start with the invocation of God’s majesty. It is only now, in my spiritual adolescence, that I am starting to understand the reason — the need for the Remembrance of God.
LXXV. Tear asunder, in My Name, the veils that have grievously blinded your vision, and, through the power born of your belief in the unity of God, scatter the idols of vain imitation. Enter, then, the holy paradise of the good-pleasure of the All-Merciful. Sanctify your souls from whatsoever is not of God, and taste ye the sweetness of rest within the pale of His vast and mighty Revelation, and beneath the shadow of His supreme and infallible authority. Suffer not yourselves to be wrapt in the dense veils of your selfish desires, inasmuch as I have perfected in every one of you My creation, so that the excellence of My handiwork may be fully revealed unto men.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 142)