URC :: Spirituality

broadening and deepening prayer
United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:

“God, free me from God”

Mark Argent
9 August 2018

Meister Eckhart’s phrase “God, free me from God” offers something scary and rich. He wasn’t seeking to destroy or deny God, but was articulating a radical apophaticism which acknowledges the inadequacy of any language for God. Even the word itself can be limiting — it is so easy for one’s ideas of God to get in the way of the reality.

Perhaps this is what lies behind the critique of idolatry: at its best, art helps us to pray moving past the image and more deeply into God, but at its worst the image holds the intention and stops the exploration.

I wonder: what is it to resist the urge to name the divine, perhaps not even to talk of God, because no words are adequate, and instead to simply be in silence?

Some find this language deeply scary, particularly when the familar language is “God as parent/father” or “Jesus my friend”. But its a mysticism that catches something of the upside-down world of the Beatitudes. That’s not about putting a brave face on adversity, but is about entering the divine in a way that turns ideas of “having” and “lacking” upside-down.

There’s no magic formula, no solution that works for everyone, but there might be something very rich in the seeming impossibility of being with the divine in emptiness, which might be a silence people have chosen, or the unchosen silences of deep loss or what feels like deprivation.

The invitation? To encounter God in stillness and emptiness where it didn’t seem possible: to “let God be God”.