So, I’ve finally done it and decided to get with the trends and join in with the hype.
I am, as of Sunday just gone, a searcher of the unseen; a participant in capturing the invisible; a hunter of the unreal within the real world around me.
Nope, I’m not describing some mystical, transcendental experience.
Yep–as you’ve probably guessed–I’m playing Pokemon Go!
(With the kids, of course…)
To be clear, prior to last week I knew next to nothing about anything and everything “Pokemon”. But with some help from a work mate, and the very eager assistance of my two boys, I’m starting to come to grips with Weedles, Lures and the need to Evole.
Of course, it still feels kind of strange to me. I don’t normally wander the streets, only to stop at random places to either grab some in-game freebies or capture a rare, wild, animated, imaginary creature.
To repeat myself: I’ve only downloaded the game because of the kids. My eldest especially, who, in the past three months, has developed a extreme obsession for these games and every aspect of their myths and legends.
But I’ve found myself being sucked into this crazy hunt. The past week alone has seen me spend my lunch break walking the streets near work looking for the invisible, and fist-pumping the air when I caught a “Meowth” skulking about in my kitchen (after the kids had been in bed for an hour).
THE INVISIBLE RESIDENT
And yet, all this searching seems familiar.
Almost like it’s a human trait that is latent within us; sometimes it’s passive, whilst other times it’s actively roaming.
Aren’t we all searching for something? And in most cases, isn’t that something “other”; something that is not of this world, but still residual within it? Call it a search for meaning, or reason, or purpose–but it’s something that leads us to an origin.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, God is everywhere: permeating the reality about us. An invisible resident, so to speak. The fragrance, the presence and glory of the creator of all that is, is entwined within the fabric of everything about us; the cosmos is steeped in the divine reality.
That isn’t to say that God and the cosmos are one and the same (pantheism). But that the God who transcends (outside of it, other than it) is also immanent within it; close, near at hand, a breath away.
Like the “animals” in PokemonGo, God can be sought and found. Even in the murkiest of circumstances and locations.
Unlike the game though, it doesn’t require special equipment. All that is required is our human-ness.
The Mystics amongst us would say that the world is full of “thin places”, moments and places where the sacred becomes tangible; where the veil between what is unseen and seen becomes almost non-existent. As with Pokemon Go, all we need do is keep our eyes open.
However, sometimes, God doesn’t seem that easy to track down. The divine appears elusive and unobvious. And in a world that often seems abrasive, full of conflict and fractured, it feels like we’re “thin” on “Thin places”.
But the testimony of the scriptures is that God is always present. And that when the storms come, our searching intensifies and our sensitivity to the divine movements heightens.
Actually, to be human is to bear this divine image. To flesh it out in the world about us; to disclose the immanancy of the transcendent God about us; especially within the hardest circumstances. It’s then that we are to contribute to creating thin places. Even to become those thin places for others. As I say in my book, with regards to expressing love through worship, we are to perceive God and make him perceivable: this is the quintessence of worship.
Jesus–the visible image of the the invisible God, God made manifest–came to the world as it is, and fleshed out the sacred perfectly. When we watch Jesus, we see God. God amongst the weary, the broken and the sidelined of this world. God challenging corruption and hierarchy and patriarchy and elitism. God challenging our addiction to violent power. God bringing life and light and hope to the hopeless, faith to the disenfranchised, and unconditional love to humanity. God exhibiting a humanity that bears his image; humanity as it should be.
I wonder, what if the farthest we had to look for the sacred was in the person next to us? What if the farthest they had to look, was us?
Go, hunt down the sacred. Go be a Holy Spirit infused “thin place” for somebody else.
“For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.”
Habakkuk 2:14 NLT
Tristan Sherwin is author of Love: Expressed