God In Me; God With Me; God Through Me

By michelle, 2 December, 2023
Thoughts inspired by Neil Douglas-Klotz's "The Revelation of the Aramaic Jesus"

From my Chasing Dragons | Hiding in Caves Substack.


Thoughts inspired by Neil Douglas-Klotz's "The Revelation of the Aramaic Jesus"

“I only do what the Father tells me to do.”

Gandhi says, “Whatever is done for me, but not with me, is done to me.”

Here’s my latest epiphany. It hit me while I was driving to my parents’ house, quietly meditating on the Aramaic Jesus.* Here is what energized my thoughts:

God is living and breathing and has His being through his creation. God experiences consciousness through creation. I am part of God’s creation. Therefore I am part of God’s consciousness. God is experiencing life THROUGH me.

When Jesus says that he only does what the Father (Aramaic would be Father/Mother) tells him to do, we can imagine him communing with God like, “What do you (Father/Mother) want to experience today?” And Spirit then infuses the flesh (Jesus) with intent (Father/Mother) to become action WITH. Nothing is done TO Jesus. It is always done WITH Jesus. (“No one takes my life…I give up my life.”)

Our Western theology has produced a god who does things “to” us. And interprets “life with” as blind obedience/servitude/enslavement. What are these words through the Aramaic lens? Would it not be more of Spirit and humankind co-creating consciousness and experiencing life together? Blind obedience/enslavement is colonized thinking. When the Apostle Paul talks about becoming a slave to Christ, it is both transformation of his relationship to Christ (from Jewish to Christ-follower, therefore surrendering his privileged Pharisaical identity) as well as entering into voluntary slavery (surrendering his Roman identity to be in solidarity with the lowest and most marginalized in his society). When American Christians try to use that terminology without similar transformation, it doubles down on colonization and is very destructive.

Additionally, our pride causes us to respond to a colonizing god by wanting to do things “for God” (but not necessarily with God). Therefore, when we harm others in the name of “God”, and we think we are actually doing this for God, but we are operating outside of love. Therefore, we are definitely not with God. As Gandhi said, “Whatever is done for me, but not with me, is done to me.” With that in mind, I think it is safe to say if we are trying to do something for God, but not with God, we are harming God. This makes me understand what Jesus says about whatever we do to the least of these, we do to him in a whole new light.  Oof!

I watched a video of a young boy dancing in a school recital. He had such freedom of movement in his body (most likely because nobody had told him he shouldn’t or couldn’t yet). To me, he completely embodied the essence of God joyously celebrating dance and movement.  It made me think of my children. What does God want to experience through them today? How can I help them see God is WITH them, especially when they feel the most alone?

When I think about my own life, what does God want to experience through me, through my humanity, today? My humanity (weaknesses, experience, observations, etc.) is the point! It is what makes life different between me and my mother or my neighbor…or even my enemy.

As I meditate further on God IN Me, God WITH Me, and God OF Me, I feel an intense joy and deep abiding love. I’m beginning to experience what the mystics reveled in. And what the ancestors before the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus hoped fervently for. The realization that God never forsook, never rejected and never abandoned Creation. In this regard, God really is like a mother. 


ABWUN D’BASHMAYA

Abwun d’bashmaya - Aramaic traditionally translated as Our Father, Who Art In Heaven

d’bashmaya: This is really three words in Aramaic—d-ba-shmaya—but most English translations use four words here, something like the KJV’s “which art in heaven.” Yet one of these four words is not actually there, and an important word in Aramaic is left out. The Aramaic says literally:
D: moving to and from, there and back. Followed by a second preposition 

B: with, along with, in and, at the same time within. It is vocalized by adding a distinct “a” sound…it links what we feel in our interior life with what we perceive outside us. [pg. 32]

Totally just had a breakthrough after reading and studying the Aramaic word d’bashmaya, part of what we call The Lord’s Prayer. If God is ever present and yet ever-changing (moving upward/outward and within), yet we are taught with words that are static ("thou art"), what that speaks to my soul is that when my life and circumstances change, especially through things outside my control (e.g. illness, suffering, great loss, even “deconstruction”), my changing (or leaving or moving) is perceived as “outside God’s presence”, since I am told God “never changes”. My reflection of the divine would never match if I am movement/change and God is not. We can say God is everything and everywhere, but if we don’t grasp that God is always moving and ever expanding and contracting (therefore breathing), then any “changing” on my part where my inner world and outer world are in conflict will feel deeply disconnected, especially if we internalize as “sin”, “rebellion” or " disobedience” any experience or value that contradicts a stagnant status quo. Again, my disconnect or tension between desired peace (inner) and perceived chaos (outer) is movement that would never match a static God. I really think this is a MAJOR point of colonized thinking that we in the West simply do not understand.

Everyone talks about deconstruction these days. But nobody really talks about perpetual change. In the Church, we talk about transformation, but rarely evolution. If we do not have language for God that embraces fluid and ever-increasing change - a dynamic energy that matches our lived reality, it’s no wonder we constantly think we’re deconstructing. We keep being told to build scaffolding to create permanent structures that constantly get blown down!

That is not what I get from the opening of the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic. I get a sense of a God completely in the midst of my deconstruction and transformation:

"Abwun d'bashmaya" (traditionally translated as "Our Father, Who Art in Heaven"):

"Abwun: From the divine source a breath from the heart is coming into the appearance of form in a mysterious way, giving birth to something new this moment: my life."

"Abwun d'bashmaya: 
O birthing, parenting of the cosmos,
you are creating all that moves and changes,
to and from, within and along with
a boundless wave of light and sound." [pg. 32]
 


 

BECOMING LIVING

“For the ancient nomads, nothing in time-space is ever static; everything is always moving and changing. What is usually translated as “is”, “am”, or “are” is really a verb meaning, “to live” or “becoming living,” an active verb. Although subtle, this is a very different way of looking at life as movement and change.” (pg. 32)

I am reminded of the story of Moses and the burning bush. When Moses sees the bush burning but it is not being consumed, Moses witnesses a bush experiencing burning, but not experiencing destruction. What an odd sight. Something definitely supernatural is happening. Then a voice speaks out. When Moses asks for a name, he is told “I AM” (our English translation). While this definitely conveys a completeness and an otherness as well, I can’t help but wonder what it would have felt like to actually hear something closer to the Aramaic.

Moses: Who are you?

God: Becoming Living

Moses has just witnessed the burning bush - if something could experience the element of fire but not destruction, he would have interpreted that experience as “becoming living”, not “becoming death”. So anything prophetically written about being “consumed by fire” would not convey final destructive judgment. Quite the opposite. A fire that does not consume. A spirit that is “becoming living” through experiencing creation. God was experiencing the life of the bush and the life of the fire, co-existing in the same space-time without either consuming/exhausting the other. (It reminds me of the Pixar film Elements.)

I simply have no words for what this means to me right now in my moment of change, in the liminal space of the now and not yet, an in-between space where fear and anxiety press in. That disquieting sense of change is now a place where I see the mystery of God playfully embracing “becoming living”. I too am “becoming living”.

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To learn more about the Aramaic Jesus, visit Neil Douglas-Klotz’s website https://abwoon.org