The Taser's Edge

Hearing and Speaking the Divine Name

I love it when constancy is the sound of God’s realness and nearness.  This summer I noticed for the first time that the sound of the air conditioner or the refrigerator can be revelation, if we are listening.

I couldn’t tell you what the source of the sound I’m hearing this morning is.  I think there’s just enough distant and near traffic alongside the blood moving through the veins in my ears for it to sound like a background of wind, or more accurately Spirit, behind and under everything.

Things having being (sometimes) remind me of God, and that is a great joy.  It’s not just that these things ‘exist’ but that they ‘are.’  So for me, the question of the ‘existence’ of God really doesn’t matter.  Does God exist?  That we would ask this threadbare question means that we will end up at best with a threadbare answer, no God or a God who doesn’t matter.  A more important question is this:  “Is God?”  There is a question that matters for everything that also “is.”

From the burning bush, God says, “I Am,” and it appears throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as God’s personal name.  We Christians throw around the transliteration ‘Yahweh’ because we think we know something, and because it is still a foreign word, we throw it around lightly.  We are incapable of reverencing it.

But what if we began to call God “I Am?”  That, after all, is what Moses heard.  We might realize quickly why observant Jews have honored the Name by avoiding speaking it for thousands of years.  We might have to notice that it is no casual thing to speak the Name of God.

“I believe in I Am” (a condensed version of the ecumenical Christian Creeds in their entirety).  If we begin to know what we’re saying in that simple prayer, then we will find that five words can totally exhaust every emotional and spiritual resource we have.  Reach 1st grade understanding, and we would speak it and then not be able to pray for a year.  Reach an adolescent understanding, and as we spoke, our whole bodies would rattle and smoke like a satellite burning up in re-entry.  In fact, if we actually could understand the fullness of that phrase, we would be totally incapable of speaking it at all.