From a series of reflections (including my own) on hope in the Christmas season, a powerful passage from my colleague Jim Linhares:
The experiences we desire most deeply in life—love, joy, meaning and fulfillment—don’t come automatically for us or those around us. Fundamental things about life get in the way: the experiences of loss, loneliness, violence, vulnerability to forces we can’t control, the inevitability of death. Eventually, as mature adults, we come to see that these things will never go away. Under these very difficult physical, psychological and spiritual circumstances we have to figure out whether or how we can keep pursuing those deep desires. The term “God”—and many other terms in other languages and traditions—has served as a placeholder for the deeply felt experience that we keep going not only by our own efforts or by solving the problem of existence with our own minds, but by somehow being OPEN to a gift that is larger than ourselves. “God” is the name we’ve given to the source for that gift, that hope. I’d say we are in a period of human history in which the term “God” feels small and irrelevant to more and more people who have mistaken it either for something we human beings made up to solve our problems or for something completely beyond us that might as well be appealed to through something like magic.