What’s in a Name?

Photograph © 2015 Peggy Kornegger
My aversion to the word God began in childhood because of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who regularly showed up at our door to convert us to Christianity. My father used to try to argue them out of their stance that only they knew who or what God is. They, of course, saw my dad as one of the lost who needed to be saved. This was my first experience with proselytizing. As adults, my parents had moved away from their Christian roots to a more “free-thinking” approach to religion. They felt that humans can never really “know” if God exists; it is a personal belief. So I was raised entirely outside of traditional religion. My parents took me to a Unitarian church once, but I wasn’t really interested. They always allowed me my own choices with regard to religious beliefs or practices.

So I had no spiritual framework other than Nature and my parents’ unconditional love, which I eventually recognized as God in its purest form. I remained suspicious of the rigidity of religion, as well as its patriarchal structure, for many years. The word God to me exemplified all of that. It wasn’t until I read Mary Daly’s book Beyond God the Father in my 20s that I began to open to a spirituality beyond religion. Mary asked her readers to imagine God as a verb not a noun—an active verb, neither male nor female. That fascinated me and enabled me to break through to infinite possibilities around the idea of God. The words Source, Divine, Goddess, Great Mystery, Universal Consciousness, Spirit all held meaning for me. I liked having many names for God, which is really unnamed energy anyway. It’s humans who want to name it.

As I began to follow my own spiritual path, I found that everything held a beauty of its own in the human quest to find and understand God. Even traditional religions, before they became distorted by human attempts to concretize and contain spirit, held many eternal truths at their core. I came to my own open-ended spirituality and no longer cringed at the word God. It’s just a word after all. Now I embrace God as the sacred living energy in all things and all beings, even those Jehovah’s Witnesses who believed that their God was the only one. They too are playing a role on the Earth at this time in the greater evolution from separation and “rightness” to oneness and non-judgment.

In truth, we are all God’s witnesses in this world, every one of us a precious being with the ability to recognize divinity everywhere, inside us and outside us. In the deepest sense, there is no inside or outside, only seamless infinite love that connects us all. That is God, beyond words, beyond definitions. You can’t explain, argue about, or understand God with the mind. You can only experience that blessed spirit, that love, as it flows through you and from you into the world.

Shakespeare wrote: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” It doesn’t matter whether you give God a name or definition or even if you believe God exists. The sweetness of that sacred presence is at the heart of your existence as a soul on this planet. And it continues beyond earthly life into infinity. Nameless or named, the universal consciousness that we call God or Goddess is an integral part of our lives. And s/he doesn’t care what term we use. When I let go of my past perceptions of the word God, I came to see that loving divine connection in every single aspect of my life.

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