More Beautiful Names for God

We humans grasp at metaphors for the divine because God is so utterly and always beyond us, within us, ahead of us, and around us.  We know any comparisons miss the mark, but the Mystery is so compelling, we keep trying to wrap our minds around it somehow.

God as Lamplighter

We often think of Jesus as light of the world, and know that in our better moments, we shine like lamps. Interesting to think of God like the lamplighters in “Mary Poppins,” busily climbing poles, and to think what that must’ve meant to people before electricity was widespread. How they must’ve transformed the darkness into warmth and welcome. Indefatigible, God lights the stars each night and the dawn each day. Sometimes, deep rose tints splashing clouds at sunrise wake us, bleary-eyed, into beauty.

God as Gardener

One stroll through a farmers’ market at harvest season shows God’s abundance. The air is fragrant with strawberries; those crimson jewels will gleam in my cereal or yogurt soon just as they light up the Rodriguez’ farm stand now. Mistaken by Mary Magdalene as the gardener after the resurrection, Jesus like a seasoned farmer also told the parable of the weeds and wheat. Let them grow up together, he advised, or you’ll ruin the wheat trying to pull the weeds. Wise—both for our inner lives and for the cantankerous problems we struggle so hard to solve. How much the farmer leaves to chance—no control over weeds, birds, calamities that could easily befall a small and unprotected seed. Good to remember that next time we turn into control freaks!

God as Dancer

The early Christians coined the marvelous Greek term “perichoeresis” to describe the life of the Trinity. It means the three persons “dancing around,” a dance that fills the universe. We too are part of this all-pervasive dance, invited, never coerced to be partners with God. God is always coaxing us out of our narcissism, anxiety and self-obsession, into a wild and beautiful dance.

While this can only skim the surface, a much fuller, developed and exhilarating book on the subject is Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance: the Trinity and Your Transformation. He says there that everything, simply by being, offers praise to God in this universal circle of dance. “Might a hand reach out and lead us into the divine dance, whispering in our ears that we were always made for this?” (p. 21)

The Shaker song “Lord of the Dance” sings of God dancing all creation, then Jesus inviting others to join his dance, and continuing the Dance even after his crucifixion. “And” Rohr adds, “the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear and doubt, or any self-hatred.” (p. 193) Imagine your favorite dancer, style, and music. Then imagine God doing that, being that, your joining in. Like the famous line in “Anna and the King of Siam,” or “The King and I,” “shall we dance?”

Perhaps these initial suggestions can prompt the reader’s own wondering names for God. Even as we try to name, we know God is the mystery beyond any name, and the vast gathering of myriad names.

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