By GEORGE A. KENDALL
Perhaps the greatest joy that has come to me in the last 73 years, the thing for which I feel the deepest gratitude, is the gradual emergence, over those years, of a clearer and clearer consciousness of the order of all things, the consciousness of the universal community of beings, an ordered whole, which has beauty, unity (in multiplicity), goodness, and truth — in short, what we call being.
The knowledge reflects many years of analysis and struggle to find clarity but in the end is something I know, intuitively, as a presence. Along with that has grown the appreciation of the goodness of human community to the extent that is achieved in this world, as well as the goodness of the moral law that guides us. When I experience being in this way, there is also, in the background of my thinking, an awareness of the divine presence.
That is so because I can see what I see because I am given light to see it with, the light that shines in the darkness and reveals the world to me, the light that is God (“in His light we see light”).
But we don’t generally look directly at light but see things in the light. The light is the background, the things seen by the light are in the foreground. When I try to focus on the light, on God, in isolation from the order of being, to make Him the foreground, what generally happens is that He is replaced by some mental image I have of Him, whether it is the stern old man with the white beard, or something more abstract, like the “ground of being” or “ultimate reality.” When I do this in prayer, I feel no divine presence, because I am usually not focusing on the divine at all but on the image. It appears that, to the extent that I see God at all, I see Him in my peripheral vision. We pray by faith, not by sight.
Certainly, our relationship to the ordered whole which is the creation (with all that entails) implies something about our relationship to the Creator. … Continue Reading