Archive for May 3rd, 2011

Hiding from God and God’s Hiddenness

May 3, 2011

I have written a number of times about the “hiddenness” of God. It is a very important aspect of how He makes Himself known (though I know that is a paradox). His hiddenness both protects our freedom and removes compulsion from our relationship with God. There can be no compulsion where there is love. I found a small verse from the writings of St. Ephrem the Syrian that offers some thoughts:

Lord, Your symbols are everywhere,
yet You are hidden from everywhere.
Though Your symbol is on hight,
yet height does not perceive that You are;
though Your symbol is in the depth,
it does not comprehend who You are;
though Your symbol is in the sea,
You are hidden from the sea;
though Your symbol is on dry land,
it is not aware what You are.
Blessed is the Hidden One shining out!

St. Ephrem’s use of the word “symbol” is in its ancient sense: something which makes present that which it represents. It is not something which stands in place of that which is absent (the more modern definition). St. Ephrem is celebrating the mystery that the God who is “everywhere present and filling all things,” is also the Hidden One, and yet also the One who is “shining out.”

This mystery comes to rest in the human heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” We do not see God because He is everywhere present – we see Him everywhere present because our hearts are made pure. The darkness of our hearts does not reveal God to us – it distorts our perception of the world, of people, and certainly of God. Thus the darkened heart often projects its own darkness onto a concept of God and teaches falsely.

It is in this darkness of the heart that we find ourselves “hiding” from God. It is instructive that in the narrative of Adam and Eve in the garden following their sin, they seek to hide from God. God does not hide from them, but rather seeks them out, calling them by name. Their response is a distortion of the facts. Man hides within his lies.

God does not hide from us in order to condemn us – the “hiddenness” of God is a hiddenness in His light. And so He draws us forth from the darkness and into the light that we may know Him – everywhere present.

Blessed is the Hidden One shining out!