Why are we so concerned with what God looks like? In the Christian tradition, we have always sought some rendition of God: think of all the museums with religious art depicting different visions of God through the Middle Ages, especially. I'm sure your church has some sort of painting, tapestry, carving, stained glass that visually represents God, that you've seen since you were a child and have internalized as your own vision of God.
Has anyone seen God? Even Moses only saw a burning bush.
And who gets to decide what God looks like? It is the people with power who create God to look how they look. They feel that God is reflected in them, that they are the image of God, and they disseminate this creation. They forget that God created us, not the opposite.
Does God have to be a male father figure, or incarnated in a white Jesus with a long beard and sandals? Do these images of God really help us any longer to feel close to God, to understand God, to be empowered by God?
For many people in the church, these images are alienating. Women and people of color are blatantly excluded from images of divinity. Not to mention the blind: ever ask a blind person what his or her image of God is?
Isn't it time we open up our other senses to God?
Close your eyes, and feel God, smell God, hear God, taste God.
God is holistic. God is universal. God is invisible. And yet, God permeates every experience. We touch divinity in every moment. We just need to be aware of the contact.
In the Andean culture, what we in North America call cosmovision is called cosmosensation. Andean communities recognize the complexity of the world, the fact that it cannot be perceived with only one sense, but rather one must employ all senses to interpret the world.
God manifests in the growth of fruit, the baking of bread, the milking of cows. These are sacred acts of creation. These are the elements that sustain us, give us life. They are, themselves, God.
God is the sweet stain of raspberries.
God is the crunchy crust of sourdough.
God is the cool refreshment of ice cream.
And so when we eat, we must choose to eat in honor of God. With justice, passion, love, and solidarity. Maybe that means organic, maybe it means vegetarian, maybe it means local, maybe it means in community. But always with a consciousness for the divine interconnection we share with the world in each bite.
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I thank the Rev. Neddy Astudillo for inspiring this reflection with her class Eco-Theology at the Latin American Biblical University in Lima, Peru. Neddy, from Venezuela, attended McCormick Seminary in Chicago and now lives in Beloit, WI working with Angelic Organics. If you are in the area, look it up, go visit, participate in an educational seminar, and get your CSA through them!
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Alexandra Buck, originally from Chicago and growing up in Milwaukee, now lives in Lima, Peru, where she has the opportunity to meet incredible people from all over the world. She works with a Fair Trade artisans program called Bridge of Hope, part of the PCUSA Joining Hands Network. She finds God in the amazing variety of tropical fruits available in her nearby market.