A follow up note on an old topic:
1. Several times in the early years of this blog, I shared my jumbled-up imaginings of God as a greased watermelon (in that He sometimes hides from us, but only in the sense of delightful pursuit rather than the cruel and detached way).
p.s. I'm reading Sabbath, Dan Allendar's contribution to The Ancient Practices Series. In his chapter "Play Day" he tells us his readers that God the Creator did not Sabbath due to "lack, loneliness, or necessity", rather he chose a day of Sabbath for reasons "free and groundless -- that is, without reason, other than delight." Imagine my delight when Allendar, later in the chapter, uses the metaphor of God's playing a form of divine hide & seek with us as an act of holy play?An excerpt:
Belden Lane offers a terrifying and thrilling proposition: perhaps God is truly playful. When we experience God's absence, perhaps God is "like a mother playfully hiding from her child or a lover playing hard to get, God hides from those God loves, occasionally playing rough for love's sake. The purpose of God's apparent absence of God's hiding, is to deepen in the lover a longing for the one loved, to enhance the joy experienced when fear dissolves and the separated are rejoined."
It is disturbing enough to cast God out of the garden. It conjures our deepest fear, as C.S. Lewis spoke about, being the toy in a divine game that is cruel and vile. Yet what do we do with the book of Job? Satan strolls into God's presence with a gamble that God takes as a worthy contest. Even as a literary convention, it is radically disturbing to our sensibilities. No wonder we don't like play, especially when it has to do with faith. Instead, we want the tried-and-true, the established and fundamentally solid. It is just too much freedom and risk to play with God.
Lane argues that our play with God requires us to be wakeful and simultaneously disengaged. It is the mystery of all deep play. To enter the realm of play, we must give ourselves to something or someone and turn away from all else. It is both a pledge and a betrayal.
We hide and desperately hope to be found. Our good mother knows when to return quickly when our fear is beyond our capacity to endure the anxiety of her absence. She also knows when her departure is necessary to sustain even when our fear rises beyond the heavens. God knows our frailty and our courage and never confuses one for the other and knows how to comfort and call forth when we would prefer God to simply answer us as we desire. More than any other purpose, God plays for the victory of union. We seek and hope to be reunited.
(chapter 5, "Play Day", Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allendar)