This is the sixth of a series of guest posts and dialogues around the question: How does Whiteness Separate us from God?
Written by Jeannie Lynn
“If you want to get in touch with the reality of a thing, the first thing you must understand is that every idea distorts reality and is a barrier to seeing reality.”
-Anthony de Mello
“The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.”
Nearly two years ago, I accidently saw God in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.
On that particular day, I met a young woman who was waiting by the side of the road, with a cardboard box in her hands, and inside this box was God.
Its picture (after coming home) is below:
Earlier that same week, at a church down the street from my Pittsburgh apartment, I had learned the term “Panentheism” as defined by Original Blessing author Matthew Fox: “God is in everything and everything is in God.” It seemed like a nice thought, that God could be closer than watching us from somewhere else. But now after seeing this tiny part of God that we commonly refer to as a rabbit, the theology suddenly became a breathing thing. Standing in the July sun, I could find no words to describe the shocking transparency of this black and white thing-in-a box, which was so new to life, to its own neuromuscular system. No description, that is, except God.
After that day, I gradually began to perceive that same startling what-it-isness more and more frequently, and I believe it is always here, in everything, although most of time I disregard it in favor of the dazzling cognitive busywork of categorization and comparison and preference and association.
One particular example of this kind of distraction, in the context of Amanda’s blog question, is whiteness. *
When I look in the mirror or down at my body and think or say “white,” the energy of my attention diverts from the actuality of my visual field, to that second screen that people often refer to as the “mind’s eye.” Somehow, I lose awareness of the textured patterns and shading, the contours, the movingness and heat of myself-as-I-am. Instead, maybe all I see are the meanings and ideas that are associated with the label “whiteness” in my mind, and which are dead outlines. **
It doesn’t seem to matter whether my associations with whiteness are positive or negative, whether I feel pleasure or pain when categorizing my self-image as “white.” It still represents a kind of cheap thrill or sugar high which bears little resemblance to the dynamic actuality of this creature, myself. Identification with whiteness or any other label as projected onto that second screen of my mind’s eye absolutely lacks the power and potency connection to What-Is , to God.
I don’t believe that White or Rabbit or any other construct can separate what is already true from myself, itself. However, these constructs, way too often, result in a case of mistaken identity, of the thing-as-it-is.
*Because God is in everything and everything is in God, I believe that labels and categories are also a part of God, but I tend to mistakenly treat them as gods in themselves.
**I don’t actually believe that anything is dead.
Jeannie Lynn lives and works on the east side of Pittsburgh, as a nursing assistant and GED tutor. She prefers to spend most of her spare time in conversation with her rabbits.