Defining God in the Context of Me

by Mike Soika

Now that I have finally, fully, firmly retired – I want to change my website.  The current website,, was designed to support my consulting business.  But now that I am no longer seeking work, it seems appropriate to make changes.

But the act of mulling over website changes fostered unexpected spiritual questions.  My initial instinct was to define my new website by the roles I play:  husband, father, grandfather, brother, sailor, friend, Quaker and so on.  But in thinking about these roles, I realized that they are all variations of saying: me….me….me.  It seemed both egotistical and spiritually counterproductive. 

Is it enough to simply say:

I am a child of God?

Or, that I am a spiritual seeker?

Or, that I am an agent of God on earth?

How do I define “me” without acknowledging the light of God – or “that of God” as the eternal core of my being? 

Catholic Monk, Thomas Keating taught that “Our basic core of goodness is our true self.  Our center of gravity is God……God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing.”

I am comfortable living with the paradox of knowing that the light of God emanates from me; that I am a unique expression of God, but that I am not the Divine.  The best illustration of this – from my perspective – is the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, As Kingfishers Catch Fire in which the author writes “Each mortal thing does one thing and the same….what I do is me: for that I came.”  The struggle for me is a common one:  how to get out of the way and simply allow the light of the Spirit to shine through.  Much easier said than done.

For me, the greatest unknown is how active God is in the world.  I used to find comfort in the idea that there was a reason for everything that happens in the cosmos and that the Spirit was somehow making things all come together according to a divine plan. And a corollary to this belief was the concept that all I had to do was pray – earnestly – and God would provide an answer to my desires and quell my fears.

It is difficult to describe the existential fear that consumed me when I let go of these comforting concepts about the divine as a supreme being who is active in our individual lives and in the world and who is constantly making things happen according to plan.  I used to believe that God was like a lifeguard, who if you got into trouble and prayed for help, divine assistance would appear.

What I now believe is that God’s work in the world only happens through us; that we are all being called upon – constantly – to hear the word of the Divine and to act on it.  Unfortunately, many people don’t take the necessary time to listen deeply to the voice within, and thus – evil, neglect, greed, and hate are a very real presence among us.

It is not that God is impotent, but rather, the Divine is eternally patient and willing to whisper into the ear of many in order to find the few who will hear that still small voice and bring it forth into the world.

I strive to listen for the voice of God, and pray that I will be humble enough and brave enough to act on it.

Never Too Far From Shore

A solitary seeker standing on shore,

listening for the divine,

dives in and swims

with a strong, meditative stroke.