When I was a child, my godparents gave me the children’s book, Where’s Wallace? Somewhat like the better-known series, Where’s Waldo?, the book would lead readers on a wild goose chase to find this little orange orangutan through a bevy of scenes chock-full of people and activity – a city park, a circus, the beach. I saved this book with its colorful plates for my own children, who would gleefully search for Wallace every few nights, each time finding the cute little guy as though for the first time.
Jesus in Mark dodges in and out of crowds along the shore, in towns, and among hills, surrounded by people one minute and completely alone the next, hiding like Wallace – only in Galilee, not at the zoo. At one point, Jesus walks on water to gather with his disciples in their boat as they travel along the nearby shore. Crowds on shore see Jesus and his disciples and run alongside the boat: There he is! There he is! We found him. Hiding, now exposed! Where’s Jesus?
My friend and fellow priest, Brett Backus, likes to remind people that God is not hidden: God lives, right here, he tells parishioners while would thumping his chest and heart repeating the words as refrain. God lives, right here. God lives, right here. Reminding anyone who will listen that God is always closer to us than we are to ourselves.
I’ve thought about Brett’s claim a lot over the past few years. I really do believe, God lives, right here. Right here, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that what Paul calls us? The finite human body becomes church, housing the very spirit and presence of God. Not an earthen Temple like the one David vowed to build God (though God declined his offer). In the human soul … and yet, God lives, right here, tells only part of the story.
God also lives in nature. In the moon and the stars, the mountains and seas; in the snow and in the rain and hail. God inhabits the known universe, not to mention the unknown. God lives in this dimension and the next … and the next and next. God lives, right here, yet God inhabits far more. I feel and know God living in each breath I take, in each moment of each day. In time and out of time, in eternity, yet in the temporal. Like one little ditty goes, God is in … in, in, in. Always in.
Perhaps most of all, and I’ve been pondering this as well, God lives in the narrow space between you and me, even more so than abstractly within any one of us. I cannot, after all, contain God, nor is that what it means when I say, God lives, right here. That God lives here, and no place else.
Consider the obverse of where God lives. Where does the devil live (assuming there is there such a creature)? Satan? Or without anthropomorphizing evil, where does evil exist, if not between and among the actions and reactions of people, one to another, clan to clan, nation to nation? I am wondering whether evil exists only between and among people – there could be no evil if we didn’t treat each other so poorly. The devil lives in the darkness we express, one to another.
Perhaps, too, God – who is far more than the personification of good – lives also in the love we express – in those little spaces between and among people. God comes alive when I love you. When I reach beyond myself to uphold you. To care for you, and – in Jesus’ case, when so tired and needing to be alone – heal you and feed you abundant bread from tiny scraps.
God lives in the love, and maybe that, too, is why Paul tells us, God is love. God lives, right here, and look – there, also.