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Not a New Metaphor - Gina Burkholder, August 2, 2020

Alison and I have been talking about God a lot lately, typically at bed in time when I’m more tired than she is and I decide it’s a good time to discuss whether God created all the planets or was it the big bang. We talk about who made the world, how was it made, she makes up hymns and we play church. We talk about why black lives matter and why people protest. We talk about differences in people and inclusivity.


God has always been too abstract for me for me to explain to anyone, but especially to my kids. I’m a visual and tactile person. I need to see and physically touch something to fully understand it. I can’t see or feel or hold God.


A metaphor finally made sense to me while talking about God and faith recently. It all kind of clicked into place.


God is like water to me. I know this metaphor is not new. It’s all through the bible. (insert specific verses - Jesus is the living water (John 4 + 7); we thirst for God like a dry land (Psalm 63); God is free water for everyone (Isaiah 55) ). It’s on motivational posts. It’s everywhere.


Sometimes God is something I can’t see, the water vapor in the air, I breathe in, God fills me. God is a cool mist or a dense fog. Something refreshing or something I can’t see through.


Sometimes God is solid ice, I slip and fall, I get up and try to stand firm. Sometimes I hold that ice, when I’m hurt. I wrap it up in some cloth, hold it close to the painful spots.


Sometimes God is something I try to hold, I grasp into the liquid and God slips through my fingers. I grab a cup and I hold God, I carry God with me, I share that water with others, I fill their cup and I empty mine. More often than not, I am afraid of water. I am not very aquatic, I prefer to float around the pool than jump in. Whoa, if that’s not a metaphor for God and faith, I don’t know what is.


Migraines have affected me for over 15 years. I try many things to make them go away. Strong medications, McDonalds Coke and fries, or just sleep until it goes away.


I wake up, I drink water, I put a cool wet wash cloth across my head, I wear my headache hat that is full of tiny ice packs strapped to my head. I breathe. Or at least I try to remember to breathe.


My migraines are usually stress related or hormonal. Sometimes the two of those things come together and my brain twists and my body becomes a lump of a skin suit.


During a recent migraine, Alison came into our darkened bedroom and said “Is your head still hurting?” I said “Yes”. She said “I’ll be right back.” She came back with a small cup of water for me. She is handing me a cup full of God, she is refilling my cup.


I may not be able to hold, or feel, or touch God, but that moment of Alison bringing me that little cup, that is God working through us and around us.



Image credit: Canva.com

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Germantown Mennonite Church 21 West Washington Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144  |  Tel: 215-843-5599

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