I say the Nicene Creed. I say the words “I believe” this and that. I say these words in good conscience, because saying I believe in God is not the same as saying I know what those words mean. I don’t. Words fall short. I don’t know what words such as “Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father” mean. Then again I don’t know what the words “I love you, Genie” mean either. I say those words with all sincerity to my wife of forty four years, too, but also in blind ignorance of their ultimate meaning.
Rational argument is not the point. I know I love Genie because I find myself cleaning the house in anticipation of her return from a trip. I find myself putting flowers in her office and in the kitchen. I do these things without thinking. These actions are as close to proof of love as I’ll get.
The actions are not an argument but evidence of a love that seeks to make the daily life of one woman as blissful as possible. Neuropsychology and religion are not the point. The point is that Genie walks into a clean house, and there are flowers. And that is in spite of the fact I have sometimes treated her horribly.
I say the words “I love you.” I know I mean them though because I take half a day to clean, to shop for flowers, to think about taking Genie to bed, to experience a flutter of anticipation as she walks out of the airport concourse and I see her again. Yet while waiting for her there I’ve been casually watching a flight attendant’s ass. I’ve been a saint and sinner, a jerk and a better man than I once was, loved by my wife, children and grandchildren, yet sometimes still a tyrant.
The words of the Creed and my words of love are metaphors for something that is ultimately indescribable but ever present and never perfect. What I know is that whatever the Creed means, I have been overwhelmed by love. I have seen “Light of Light” in action, felt its power while not understanding from whence the light pours into me…
You have been reading an excerpt from my book WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace. Please buy the book on Kindle or as a paperback and read more. Please note: Contact me to speak to your school, church or group in 2015… and please use this book as a study group book.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace