imagining god's embrace

imagining god's embrace

in this time of advent when we begin to hear the voices singing: come, o come and comfort, comfort we are challenged to re-envision our embrace of christmas in the absence of large and perhaps even family gatherings for what is now the second year in a row. but in doing so, we begin to separate out which of these comforts feed us like comfort food and which nurture the nature of our soul.

raised in the mennonite tradition, there was (and always has been – as far as i’m concerned) one food that has always invoked a feeling of comfort – zwieback. this small double bun (or tower buns as my nephews called them) brings out comforting memories of individual people and collective get-togethers. warm buns for faspa with melted butter and homemade jam or honey.

but in addition to satisfying our sense of physical as well as emotional hunger, the double bun is also a wonderful metaphor of our dual nature of body and spirit or our physical and spiritual being and … the zwieback reminded me for some reason of an experiment in quantum physics known as the double slit experiment. the experiment was created in an attempt to determine if - at its root -light is a particle or a wave. it turns out, that if you shoot a photon or light package like an arrow through one of these slits, it hits a target as if it were a particle. but if you split the light packet so that it goes through both slits simultaneously, it acts like a wave. further research in the field has revealed that this is true with larger and larger structures as well … and this made me think of how – by the nature of its duality, a zwieback might play into this.

the point is that we are often looking for comfort in a world of things … we prioritize nouns over verbs – the seen over the unseen and this is with good reason. but if we wish to experience the nature of god’s embrace, we will find that it pervades the living spiritual nature of embracing much like the living and pulsing nature of ocean waves. and we find that it is much more difficult to experience this kind of embrace in the comfort foods or comforting moments that make an embrace a thing – like a particle or a zwieback located within time and space. and while we look for and appreciate each and every one of these hugs just as we appreciate warm tower buns with apricot jam, we are reminded that each of these comforts only hint at god’s embrace – the spiritual dynamic that turns our attention away from the nature of the particle … or the bun and allows us to enter the living dynamic of god’s being … in god’s embrace.

for if it is our wish to experience the fullness of god’s embrace, we might practice turning from the things that hold us in their embrace … and learn to embrace god … fully.

after all … even zwieback – especially zwieback … are less filling than they are fulfilling, when we think of the love and the memories of the love in the hands that prepared them and the relationships they were prepared for.

may you experience the fullness of god’s embrace this christmas season …

and perhaps a zwieback … or even a pfeffernusse or two.


i try not to use capitalization in my writing to remind myself that we have given special preference to nouns - to things … while life or the significance aspects of life (in my mind) occur in the movement or the verbs of our being and in particular - god’s existence and being.

when we focus on the significance of nouns, we see the particles in the wave-particle duality - the committee responsibilities, our physical needs … and we miss the living presence of relationship, of existence and coexistence.