Mystery and metaphor

“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.

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Categorized as Devotional

By Peter

After stints as a trial lawyer and a church worker, Peter Stephens has settled in as a Virginia high school English teacher. Peter has read several books and poems. He wrote none of the posts below filed under "Passages." Click the link at the end of each post to see it in the context of the author's original post.