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I Am That, I Am


To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake

As I walked the River Trail on Tuesday I was struck by a mystical experience of being one with all of creation. This awareness was prompted in part from watching the YouTube video that interpreted the Exodus 3:14 Bible story, where the name of God was spoken to Moses upon encountering the burning bush (I Am That, I Am), with a comma inserted.

I was quick to note a similar coincidence of punctuation with how the UCC uses of the comma as a symbol to denote that “God is still speaking” – or as Gracie Allen wisely said, “never put a period where God intended a comma.”

Matthew Fox expresses in a YouTube video of an interview with Rupert Sheldrake  that “part of every mystical experiencing of awe is being struck with a loss of words. Ineffability is part of a mystical experience. Therefore, every experience of awe is wrapped in an experience of silence. You have encountered something greater than yourself – a true subject/subject relationship – not an object relationship.”

Frenchman Rene Decartes, in the 17th century doubted the reality of everything and expressed the duality of mind and body in his famous statement “I Think Therefore I Am.” But people have been moving away from such a purely left-brained interpretation in favor of a more wholistic view.

Playwright Eve Ensler, in her June 20, 2016 On Being interview with Krista Tippett entitled I Feel, Therefore I Am (podcast episode #15) speaks of the affirming physicality of our bodies. She asks, “How in our daily lives are we connecting with ourselves and everything around us? That’s where transformation comes from.”

Perhaps the various “I am” statements attributed to Jesus – the way, the truth and the life; the vine; the bread of life; the light of the world; the [sheep] gate; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; etc. – are where theologians got the idea that Jesus was Divine? What an inconvenient truth if some of his other identity similes – strangers, homeless, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in prison – also refer to Divinity.

The Hebrew for “I am” or “I will be” is ehyeh. Changed into the third person this would be yahweh. The simplest meaning is: I will be whoever/whatever I will be, not bound by definition. So could “I Am” mean: to be here now; without time; not separate; not a being; not an object but spirit; speaking without words; more than can be put in words; ineffable?