“The Pharisee with head unbowed prayed in this fashion: ‘I give you thanks, O God, that I am not like the rest of men – grasping, crooked, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on all I possess.” – Matthew 17:11-12 (NAB)
The struggle between man and God may be this: only one of them can be a mystery. The other must be like him.
A child is his own mystery, and he circumscribes God, as he does everything else, by making connections. God is like a king or a father, for instance, or like a clockmaker. Essentially, God is like the child.
But a child – and a man, too – as his own reference point, is like nothing else. Long into adulthood, I defined myself by what I was not – a sinner, for instance, or my father. My religion was apophatic, but I was its object. I prayed unbowed.
A mystery is the coming end of objectivity and metaphor: “We shall see face to face.”
When my midlife crisis scrapped my identity, I learned that God is beyond metaphor. He is not like anything he created, though his creation is like him.
I learned that I am one of his children.