So, I just finished reading a book by Madeleine L’Engle (isn’t that a wonderfully elegant name?), entitled A Circle of Quiet. In the first chapter, she explains how each summer, she chooses a new word to study, think on, and consider.
The summer she wrote Circle of Quiet, she chose to study the meaning of the word ontological. Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality. Because Mrs. L’engle repeatedly uses the term, it has become ingrained into my thinking, and I have thieved it for my own word this summer.
I tend to trace everything back to God, somehow, someway, which is proper, given Psalm 24:1 …
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.
So, I’ve analyzed whether God is ontological, whether you and I are ontological, whether the rustling leaves I hear as I sit on my porch and hammer out this post are ontological. If something or someone IS, then they have existence. Andrew’s pet bunny, Fizzles, no longer IS. She’s buried in the dirt pile my dog (Annie) is rolling around in as I “speak.” Unless all bunnies go to Heaven, she’s nothing now – no longer in a current state of existence.
The grass blades ARE.
The aspen, petunia, and rolly polly ARE.
You and I ARE.
“Funny” that I would study ontology during summer, when my temptation to doubt the ontology ~ the isness ~ of God peaks. I’m not entirely sure why this tendency is mine. I know my my schedule gets harried, my think time gets scarce, and perhaps when I am not as intentional about thinking of, reading about, and believing in the isness of God, I am more prone to wander. Also … I’m hot. And thirsty. And sticky and grouchy. And speaking of sticky, what about those pesky flies? What nerve they have to crawl on my face and not so much as flinch a wing at the wave of my hand. Have they no fear? No knowledge of the swatter hanging three feet away?
My husband found a massive bull snake in the backyard (IN the backyard!) this summer, and he did not kill it. It’s still out there … s-s-s-s-somewhere … probably plotting to slither its way into my pillowcase. My summer wish is for that reptile’s existence to cease. And do not pull that “but he eats the flies” business with me. Did I mention he was massive? He would not be able to exist on a mere diet of flies, and I’m sure he prefers rats and bunnies and this snake eat bunny world is somehow supposed to be …. interesting? Cool? I fail to enjoy this aspect of creation.
Perhaps my summer struggles are silly, but nevertheless, they irritate, and in my flesh, I succumb to my yearly search for reassurance …
*tap, tap, tap
Are you there, God? Amidst all the creepy crawlies and craziness we call fun in the sun, You’re still up there and down here and everywhere, right?
And I confess …
Lord, I believe.
And I plead …
Lord, please help my unbelief.
To “be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10) can be a practice in physical stillness. But the deeper meaning is to practice internal stillness. To practice ontology ~ simple existence. To be like God, and just be. When we practice being, by basking in His being, internal, tidal waves of panic are no longer ontological – they cease to exist.
God IS a myriad of things: love, justice, peace, sovereign, infinite, jealous, omnipotent, omniscient, Father, Jesus, Spirit, Mediator, the Way, the Truth, the Life. I could go on forever, it seems. But today, this summer, I am grateful God just IS. Period. And that, no matter how rush-rush life becomes, He never changes. He will forever exist beside, in, and all around me. He is not hurried or frantic or in a fit of summer panic. He simply is.
Revelation 1:8 says He was, and IS, and is to come; He is past, present, future. My finite mind cannot fully comprehend it. But His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that His eternal isness is indeed truth. That He is Truth. And His witness prompts me to, even if I am too busy to bow the knee, bow the heart ~ to, in Spirit and in truth, worship.
In that worship, I find quiet.
In that quiet, I find faith.
In that faith (and in checking my pillow every night for the snake’s isness) … I find peace and rest.