God is Relationship

double bass and tents (2)God is not a hypothesis. God is Relationship; Contemplation; Practice.

Actually, “God did it” is a good enough hypothesis for my day to day use: I am fascinated to hear of inflation, or Planck energy, or that the size ratio of an atom to a superstring is the same as the Universe to a ten-storey building; but I get the feeling that the scientists are bending over backwards to explain, and know that theories change over time, and are more complex than I can know with school physics. It happened. I am glad people try to work out why, but do not want to spend the effort necessary to understand the theories. My religion is so much more than an explanation of the World competing with the natural sciences.

God is relationship. Sometimes it seems that I understand what is going on, but most of the time I do not, not really. God is my sense that everything is going to be alright. God is what is, surrounding and supporting me. God is in me, responding, for so often consciously I have no idea what that response might be. God is the moments when I can’t go on, yet somehow do. God is a punch-bag- “Why have you forsaken me?” God is a friend whom I can talk to, a friend who, like human beings, surprises me as I learn new aspects of their character.

God is contemplation. God is my silence when the world changes because I notice it. I kneel in my ritual space, and hear what is around me. I sit in the silence of the Quaker meeting, with the other worshippers. God is the world made new, heaven in a wild flower, when I find a leaf and am entirely absorbed in its beauty and complexity. God is the moment Now divorced from fear and regret, anticipation and recrimination. God is in my devotion to what I do right now- washing up, cleaning my teeth, washing my hands- so washing my hands can become a ritual which brings me to awareness of the moment and all my experience in it- water, movement, the complexity of a hand. This delights me.

God is practice. God is in daily meditation, and changes I notice in that. Not that I get better at it, necessarily, because monitoring my “progress” takes me out of the practice and into evaluation of it, ambition, looking back to past experience not experiencing now. It is not about a state of mind which is purer or better than others, but about accepting each state of mind, each way of being and doing.

God is these things, as a unity, as One to love and fear. Do not ask me what I believe, or classify me- agnostic, theist, whatever.

18 thoughts on “God is Relationship

  1. I’m stunned by the sheer beauty of this post, Clare … it’s quite thought-provoking, moving, and very, very heartfelt. Kudos on making my day ! My goodness you write well. Did you go to a State School or a British Public School?


      • I’d wager Public School, wouldn’t you? She’s a woman of definition and strength. Who couldn’t like here. Andy you …. I have quite the crush on you. But you know that, I suspect. ๐Ÿ˜‰


        • People who hear my accent often think I went to an independent school, and why should I deny it? Only because it implies that the Scottish education system would not only fail to educate me but crush any intellectual curiosity in me. We are a touchy race, proud of our education system, which is separate despite the Union. We tend to use the term “public” school for state schools, and “independent school” for fee-paying.


      • Grammar school is a bit of a mis-nomer. For example, my parents went to grammar school (state funded) in the days when selective education went grammar school, secondary modern and technical college. They would be in their 80s if they were alive. I don’t think Clare is so old.

        I went to an independent/direct grant/fee-paying school. I suspect that is the intermediary type of school you are referring to. It was an all girls school, and the boys equivalent was called Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. That’s why it is confusing. You can get private schools with grammar school in the title and state-funded ones. Fully state-funded schools – in my day – did not require the passing of an entrance exam. Our school did. This middle grouping also offered free places to bright kids, which were different to scholarships. Our school offered free places paid for by the trustees, the local authority also funded some places. My school was never referred to as a grammar school. Its actual title was Girls’ High School. But state schools were often called high schools too.

        A rose by any other name.


          • There used to be a three stage system with grammar schools, technical colleges and secondary moderns, with the eleven-plus exam admitting some to state grammar schools. My friend got into a grammar school for a larger area, effectively one tier above the other grammar schools, in the 1950s, and says it helped her escape the Welsh Valleys, the last part of the UK which had EU development funding. My mother did not get into the grammar school, because where she was only 2% of girls did. Labour worked to shut them down in the 1960s, and now only UKIP supports grammar schools. There are about 150 state grammar schools left, and some of these are in areas still using the old tripartite system; and some using the term are independent, fee-paying schools.

            It depends how good the eleven-plus is at determining merit, and whether eleven is the appropriate time. My father had a friend who, as head teacher of a secondary modern in Kent, I think, got some of his pupils into Oxford.


            • I attended International Schools because we could move from continent to continent and stick to the same curriculum. They give the option of International Baccalaureate or American H/S Diploma (or both). I started taking standardized tests when I was 6. I don’t know what they use now, but in my day it was the Stanford Achievement Test. It’s based on the curriculum and the score tells you where you are. For example a 7.5 means your knowledge corresponds to someone in the seventh grade, fifth month.
              Depending on results students stay in the main class, go into the advanced program, or get moved to the special needs classes. It’s also possible for students to be in one program but take specific classes from another. Personally, I think the system works extremely well because it’s education tailored to abilities.
              We also get a say in what we want to study if we finish the standard curriculum early (in case we’re in the advanced group).
              Like everything there are downsides. Every year I was scared to death I might not make it and be put into the standard group (but that’s due to my own neurosis). On the other hand the anxiety meant that by 12 I had read every book on the American and UK national curriculums and then moved on to the classics. It also allowed me to do university entrance exams at 15.
              I don’t think it would cost more for any school to adopt that system. All it really does is let students move at their own pace, so they’re not part of a monolith. They can develop their talents or dedicate more time to their weaknesses. It does take away from the ‘group unity’ many crave in youth, but that was never really an issue for me.
              Mike’s brother and sister-in-law took their children out of English boarding schools to move them to an IBS school and couldn’t have been happier with the results. The boy learnt very quickly and the girl needed more time and the school accommodated both their needs.


            • In my comprehensive school, we were streamed from age 14. Up to 16, then the compulsory school age, there were non-exam classes at the bottom, and two to four exam classes above. The great advantage I see in a fee-paying school is the smaller class size, giving teachers more time for each pupil. But, yes, accommodating the needs of the individual child is a great thing.


  2. I just wanted to say that I totally accept your rejection of my private-blog-invitation ๐Ÿ™‚
    In my view it changes nothing. People should only direct their energy where they feel it should be directed. I shall continue to visit with the same regularity.


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