Side by side
I found out that in a church near my house the minister of the church had weekly consultation hours, so I decided to go there, despite the fact that these kind of things are very unfamiliar for me, and I didn't know what to expect from such a consultation hour. But it was very good to talk to him. He said that I should find my own language to talk to God and he said that God is with us. What he said matched very well with the Jewish religious axiomes where Levinas' philosophy is founded on. Everything he said I recognized immediately, both from my youth (the songs of Huub Oosterhuis) and from what I read in books of Levinas. So below I tried to write down what the minister said, with some of my own thoughts added to it (I added the concpet of Infinity and that the darkness hasn't conquered the light yet).
And one more comment: I still don't know if God really exists and what he would be like exactly. We can never know that for sure, in a rational scientific way. I don't need no factual proofs either. What the minister said I found very beautiful and it could be true. In a poetic spiritual way my intuition tells me that it has to be true. Half of my life I assumed God didn't exist, so why wouldn't I assume he exists now, for a change.
God is my mate, my companion, he is the fellow traveler of man. God is with us, God supports us, we can trust him. We can be sure that he is there, always, he awaits us. God sends his Love to humans, to all humans, his infinite Love. We can feel his presence, he is close to us, he listens to our prayers, he cares for our suffering. God travels with us and supports us, he gives us strength and confidence so that we are no longer weak, afraid or uncertain. God leads us out of the darkness into the light, he leads us from exile to the promised land, as Moses did with God at his side. When Moses called God, God came to him and said that he didn’t need to fear, because God is with him. So God guided and supported Moses as a travel companion. In the same way God is still with us as our travel companion and anchor for support. God is especially close to people who suffer, to vulnerable people like the poor, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. People who are hungry, ill, homeless, refugees, asylum seekers, people who are oppressed, who have no rights, these are the people that God’s heart especially goes out to. All humans are equal, but vulnerable people should be the first to care for, both by God and by humans (by politicians, policymakers, by the church, and by normal citizens as well). Any society should in the first place take care of drop-outs, of people who threaten to fall out of the society. The people who have no safe ground to hold on to, people without a home, strangers, widows who lost their partner, people who have to fight all the time to survive and to find a place where they can be at home and at peace, those are the people that we should care for in the first place. The way the Dutch government locks up foreigners in the Schiphol detention center (where the fire broke out) is exactly the opposite. Instead of treating people with respect and carefulness, instead of searching together for a suitable solution (with which both the foreigner and the state can live), they are treated as criminals, though most of them never committed any crime. This kind of inhumane policies leads to a dead end (even literally).
It’s not only me and God, it’s us together, we should stand together as humans. An individual is nothing all by himself. From the moment we are born we need others around us who love us and support us. In he first place our parents, and then the rest of our family, friends and other people in our surroundings. Nobody can live completely alone. A human being is a social being. Martin Buber (Jewish philosopher) wrote a book called “Ich und Du”, but Rosenstock-Huessy (also a Jewish philosopher) argued that it shouldn’t start with “I”, he plead to turn it around into “You and I” (or “Thou and I”). The egoism of completely being locked up in ourselves doesn’t bring us any further. The only person who can liberate me is the other (as Levinas said, the third Jewish philosopher in this list). Through the face of the other God is revealed to us. God is a secret for humans and he will remain so for ever. But we can feel his presence, we can feel his Infinite Love and Goodness. God is Love, God is like a passionate lover who loves all humans. He can’t forget them, he thinks about them and cares for them all the time.
There is no need to fear God. When you try your best to be good, God will forgive all your mistakes an sins. God is not a violent merciless master who aggressively punishes humans all the time. God is Love, as a warm bath, as a big positive Light that conquers all darkness of evil, injustice and suffering. God’s light is stronger than death, his power is eternal, it cannot be conquered by death.
Through the other, through my fellow man, I can meet God. Do you know when the night turns into day? According to Judaism it happens when the face of my fellow man, the face of the Other, appears in front of me. We should try to stir up the fire / light of goodness in ourselves and others and we should try to come closer to God, to the Infinite Light of Goodness. We should spread his Light. Then we will be strong, we can face all problems, no matter how big they are. And the darkness hasn’t conquered the light yet.
I will end this post once more with a song, you can imagine me walking with my travel companion God by my side ;-)
So we ain't got a barrel of money
Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we travel along
Singing our song
Side by side.
Through all kinds of weather
What if the sky should fall
Just as long as we're together
It doesn't matter at all
Don't know what's comin' tomorrow
maybe it's trouble and sorrow
but we'll travel the road
sharin' our load
side by side.