Faces on Faith: Bidden or unbidden, God is here
A recent gathering of two of my siblings, brothers I hadn’t seen in years, resulted in a fascinating discussion around the dinner table. Clinical psychologist brother Rollin and retired Moravian minister and missionary Richard joined my sister-in-law, Ed and me in a lively discussion on the “meaning of life” and “consciousness.” Suddenly Rollin said, “Bidden or unbidden, God is here.” He was quoting from Carl Gustav Jung, but the actual quote carved above Jung’s front door in Switzerland read: “Bidden or Not Bidden, God is Present.”
Richard, who was trained in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew at Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, shared some examples of God’s presence, when he and his young wife were sent to Language School in Costa Rica. Total immersion in Spanish resulted in his starting to dream in Spanish within a few months, but upon arrival in the small Nicaraguan village of Bilwaskarma, he discovered the Miskito Indians spoke no Spanish, but only their own local language. Food was kept in a wooden box, screened in front, with four legs sitting in jars of kerosene, to keep the insects and marauding creatures from their food. When his wife was in despair during the difficult birth of their child, a local Indian woman volunteered to move in to help her, and teach her how to protect their family when the Army ants came. Richard was there to train young Indian men to become Moravian pastors to serve the churches throughout the area. When a revolution broke out, many of his students slept on their porch to protect the family.
The subject of God’s presence was explored in the recent Shared Scholar Lecture, featuring Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell, held in the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. Newell is a poet, peacemaker and scholar, internationally acclaimed for his work in the field of Celtic spirituality. His topic was “Faiths Finding Faith in Each Other,” and numerous times during his talk, he told his audience to repeat: “Wherever you turn, God is there.” The discoverer and founder of Christian Science tells us in her “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures” textbook, “God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power.” So, regardless of our beliefs, whether or not God is a palpable presence in our daily experience, most of us would agree with poet Mary Oliver’s words: “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
June Sieber is affiliated with the Sanibel Christian Science Church.