OK – so it is the middle of the night — my eyes are dry and my spouse is going through a period of problematic breathing (snoring?); so I decided to read my email and come upon today’s first reading for mass. It’s Exodus 3 and it contains the following:
“But,” said Moses to God, “when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.”
I used to pass a sign at a church that misquoted this by saying “I AM WHO I AM” – That gave me pause, because it seems to miss the point. “I AM WHO I AM” seems to imply a being that is smug and uninterested. I read that and get the picture of a God who says – “Just deal with it” and sits there doing his own thing. I AM is the “not a name” reference to God as the foundation of the universe. I AM refuses to fit into that box that we so often want to shove God into. I AM is not God captured in a consecrated host for communion but God beyond all names, present in everything and every moment. I AM is the source of our being.
When this reading comes around in the cycle, I am called back to one of my favorite literary genre’s: fantasy/science fiction. In fantasy, one often discovers wizards who will never reveal their true names because to know a wizard’s true/real name gives power over him/her. And so it is with me – with all of us, I dare say: we try our best to give God a proper name so that we have some control. This way we hope to have God do our bidding instead of the other way around.
And so, at 3 am, I sit with joy at the realization that I AM is more than I can ever grasp. I can rest in the understanding that this is “a good thing.” I think I’ll find my eyedrops and head back to bed secure in the knowledge that I AM is always present to me, if I listen. (And, that is easier as the snoring has ceased);