The Dark of that Unknowing

God, as he is really in himself, is beyond all definition of ours at all… They only truly know him to be this or that, who witness him truly to be this or that to and within themselves. And those know him not… [who] come not to find him and feel him so to be… in his own light, by which he draws nigh to, and is not far from every one of us. By which [light]… in some measure, though not in the same measure, he manifests something of himself in every conscience.

Samuel Fisher, quoted in Rex Ambler, The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery

Fisher, writing in 1661, has touched the key, I think, to our contemporary heart-searchings over theism and nontheism, Christian Quaker and universalist Quaker. If God is God, then by definition he is “beyond all definition of ours”. We are small and recent creatures on the quite small third planet of a medium-sized star in one of the spiral arms of a beautiful but rather average galaxy, one of more than 100 billion in the universe we have so far been able to observe. How would we be able to hold in our dear and glittering minds the ground of all that being – and all that is, unimaginably, besides?

Attempting to specify God, or to delineate those who have access rights to God or not, is not so much wrong as ridiculous. All we can do is love those who, like ourselves, have that of God within them. We are all just entities, and share far more of our limitations than anything that sets us apart.

Other than that, all we can do is keep silence, and wait. Only in the dark of that unknowing – that relinquishment of knowing – will come our own real and lived experience, the presence and Light of that which is within and beyond us, as it is within and beyond all things. In itself it is No Thing, for it is without limit or beginning, and is not dependent; yet within it all things live, and move, and have their being – loved even, and held beyond time and distance.

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