What would it be like to see the world and ourselves as God does? Of course we have only glimmers and hints of this vantage point, but it’s helpful to entertain the perspective, even briefly and dimly.
And perhaps it’s not that way-out/crazy. Some of the finest insights in scripture are expressed as ways of seeing. “I have seen the Lord,” Mary Magdalene told the other disciples, in disarmingly simple words. (This was, after all, the Lord they had seen crucified, then entombed, lifeless.) Later, the other disciples would echo her, telling Thomas who had been absent: “We have seen the Lord” (John 20: 25). These words become the distinctive signature of every Christian, as we see Jesus in the circumstances of life, each other, and the beauty of our world. Recognizing even the faintest traces of his face, we rejoice.
Through God’s lens, we might come to see ourselves as “friends of God and prophets” (Wisdom 7:27). God views us not as estranged relatives who live at some distance, but as close FRIENDS who share in God’s holiness. Jesus repeated this during his last supper: “I do not call you servants any longer because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
To appreciate this intimacy, think of your best friends. With them, you can be silly, relaxed, often wrong, but OK with flubbing it now and then. Thankfully, they don’t delay friendship ‘til you’ve got your act completely together. With them, you can laugh, cry and endure a lot of Ordinary Time.
If we see ourselves as God’s friends, it removes the pressure. No longer do we fumble for the absolutely perfect wording of prayer. Do we turn to the script in a book when addressing a friend? So, with God we can be honest, outrageous, fussy, overjoyed, troubled, tired, angry, perplexed, exuberant, numb, humorous. We can stand firmly anywhere on the broad gamut of human thought and emotion, confident in a listening friend.
Seeing as God does places our most humiliating failures, stupid mistakes and embarrassing gaffes in a new light. While we may clench our teeth and agonize over those, God dismisses them with an airy wave. “Oh, that?” God says. “Forgot it several eons ago, somewhere back before Tyrannosaurus.”
For God’s sense of time is broad and deep. One way to appreciate it is to try remembering what we worried about three years ago. For most people, that’s a stretch. So too, God may see the formidable obstacle that blocks the path right now and dismisses it as less important than dandelion fluff.
To be continued….