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God as a Hologram

About 8 or 9 years ago (it’s late 1999 as I write this) at a United Methodist Women’s study group, we were asked how God can be immanent and transcendent at the same time. (Immanent means being within the world, part of it, while transcendent means being beyond the limits of the world, beyond understanding. Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of God’s son, of God becoming immanent. Or, as I prefer to look at it, of God reminding us of Her immanence.)

This was an interesting question, because it has never been an issue to me. The idea of God being able to be both outside and within the world may be a bit hard to grasp in a purely logical manner, but things of the Spirit are never purely logical and it’s folly to try and deal with them in that way. So, when it was my turn to respond, I just said, “God is God, and can do anything.” Or something to that effect.

A year or two later, and in a different city a couple thousand miles away, I was pondering this problem while walking the few blocks from my bus stop to work. Not to try and make sense of it to myself, but to try and find a way to explain my feelings and thoughts about it to other people.

The idea of God as a hologram came to mind. (Or perhaps, was given to me as a gift from the very Being whose nature I was pondering.) Not the holograms you see sometimes as book covers or stamps, but the kind I read about in Scientific American back in the sixties or early seventies. A piece of holographic film doesn’t show an image—it’s just a piece of gray stuff with kind of an abstract pattern. But shine a light through the film, and a three-dimensional image appears.

Now here’s the interesting part. Every bit of that holographic film contains the entire image. Cut off a piece of it, shine the light through it, and you have the whole image. Not the upper-left corner of it, but the whole thing.

God is like that. This wonderful, loving Spirit that we call by so many different names dwells everywhere and in everything and in everyone—all of Him, all at the same time.

Everywhere.

It takes words and time to explain this, but once the thought “God is like a hologram” had entered my consciousness, the rest came in a flash. Although I had always believed that God is everywhere, suddenly I knew it. An awe-full chill crawled up my body and for a splendid moment I felt connected to Her, and through Her to everyone and everything else. It was a blessed instant of knowing a bit of the Divine, one I can sometimes recreate by thinking, deeply visualizing, what it means to have God alive and present everywhere and in everyone and everything.

To me, a core part of this revelation is that everything and everyone is Holy, because each of us holds God within us. That doesn’t mean that everything we do is Holy, or that we shouldn’t punish people who do bad things. It doesn’t mean that we should let people walk all over us. On the other hand, neither does it mean that we can walk all over everyone else. (After all, they’re just as Holy as we are!)

It does mean that we need to treat people and animals and the world itself with respect and honor. That the homeless person on the street is just as loved by God and just as much a container for God as anyone else. That it’s wrong to cut down trees heedlessly for our own personal gain, with no thought of the spiritual value of the individual trees or the value of the forest ecosystem as a whole.

God is everywhere. When you really know that to be true, it changes the way you look at everything.



Last updated Thu, Dec 19, 2002

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