The first thought that popped into my mind as I began to ponder the "Who is God?" question was that "God is a painter."
Then I began to ponder the word "painter." God as an artist. God as abundantly and infinitely creative and and creating. I considered adding a few more nouns. God as a painter, an architect, a builder, a potter, a designer, a musician, a dancer, a photographer.
Hmmm. Was I responding to the "Who?" question with a litany of what God does rather than an affirmation of who God is?
I thought about the young man who died this past week, by all accounts a brilliant mechanic and a kind and generous human being, especially to those who found themselves and their cars sideways in a ditch or tangled up with another vehicle. God is a kind of mechanic, putting seemingly disparate bits of material back together and creating anew. But I didn't want to limit my description of God to that of a utilitarian functionary of some sort. And the particular mechanic of whom I have been thinking was evidently . . . an artist. An artist with respect to both trucks and human friendship.
God is an artist. That's a what, and it's a "what God does," but most of all, to my way of thinking, anyway, it's a who. An artist is a who. An artist is someone whose very essence pours out of herself and into her creations.
God is an artist. Almost every form of human work and human relationship is a work of art ~ an expression of the one in whose image we are created.
Three intimations of God, the artist:
The universe, which many refer to as a revelation of God's self. If you had asked me when I was a little girl growing up in my God-indifferent family how I knew about God, I would have pointed to the world around me: the brilliant beech trees on the autumn hillside, the glittering ice in the winter sunshine, the caterpillars turning themselves into butterflies, the lightning bugs filling the summer night spaces, the oriole nest hanging from the tree across my grandmother's driveway, the goldenrod growing alongside the country roads, even the snakes leaving their discarded skins across the gravel road to our own house. Color, shape, size, form; such dazzling ingenuity. There is God, I would have said.
Loss and the burden of grief which follows. You might be surprised to hear me say that. I am surprised, myself, But when I look at the dimensions in my life which have opened up in the past four years, I can conclude only that a great artist has been at work. An artist who is not intimidated by an excess of thick black paint, or by deep gashes in the canvas, or by the ceiling caving in and raining chunks of plaster all over the entire exhibit, An artist who shrugs her shoulders, dumps the black paint into the canyon-deep gashes, crunches up the plaster and tosses it into the mix along with some left over yellow paint and glitter sticks, rocks back on her heels, and says, "Even that is good." Because out of Friday comes Sunday. Out of Week Three comes Week Four.* Out of thick dark comes glittery light.
Silence. I don't pretend to grasp how glittery light emerges from thick dark. But I am sure now, four years into what has become my life-experience of God and not-God, that God is an artist of silence. I say that as someone whose local orchestra, the one down the street, is one of the most celebrated in the world. I say that as someone whose bucket list includes the Westminster Cathedral and King's College choirs. But I say it also as someone who has practically seen with her eyes God painting with silence as the medium.
God's silence: Patience. Anger. Sadness. Hope. Desire. Infinite gift of self. God pours silence from God's self into the shape of love.
And so, who is God? God is The Artist.
(*For all you Ignatian-folks,)