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imagesThere are days when I think my life is one big diet. You see, my name is Linda and I am a foodie. I love to cook, bake, eat, read cookbooks, eat some more, and…eat again. Unfortunately, keeping my love affair with food and my complicated relationship with exercise balanced is difficult. I am almost as familiar with diets as I am with my overfilled spice drawer. It seems there is a diet for every lifestyle and body type. Some take it off quickly, some slowly and methodically. Some focus on eliminating carbohydrates; others emphasize protein; while others say everything is “okay”, but moderation is the key. It seems the only common denominator is that with some diligence and attention, they all work.

I was bemoaning my plight with weight one day while talking to a dear friend. She sat there nibbling on a Snicker’s bar. I do mean nibbling! It was portioned into tiny squares that she insisted would satisfy her for a week – one square at a time when she had a craving for something sweet. A week! That’s right…a week. I am lucky to make one candy bar last seven minutes, let alone seven days. She paused, then told me my problem was I thought of a diet as a noun when indeed it was a verb.

An internet search of “verb” offered a consistent definition: the part of speech that expresses existence, action or occurrence; a state of being. Wikipedia informs us that a noun is the part of speech that denotes a person, place or thing. 

With all due respect to English and grammar majors, I would like to dig into these definitions. A noun tells us about something. When we see a name, we know something about the object the name is assigned to. For example, if I mention Scarsdale or Adkins, most diet junkies will immediately know we are talking a high protein plan. Yum! Yet, it doesn’t indicate any action, just thinking and recognition based on a word. It’s simply a noun…something that describes a person, place or thing.

Some words have a duality where they can be descriptive or show action, depending on how they are used. Diet in a general sense indicates something I know about…the noun. Then, there is the diet I immerse myself into…the verb. This is the action I take to not only know about the diet, it becomes living the diet. It is to plunge oneself into the expression of existence, to take action, to enter a state of being. Diet…the verb.

It’s kind of like God. When we say “God”, we get a sense of something we know about – depending on our tradition. Yet, knowing about something indicates a certain detachment. It’s like that something is out there without any significant connection between us. It’s the understanding of God as a noun.

But, something happens when we think of God as a verb. All of a sudden, we enter into a relationship with God – a relationship that isn’t based on dogma, doctrine, or knowing whether there are 66 or 73 books in the Bible and naming them in exact order. It’s a relationship where we see the perfect work of the Divine in and through all that is beaconing us to join in the dance of love and life. It’s when we plunge ourselves into the expression of the Holy’s existence; when we enter the state of being that we were created for; and we take action to live in harmony with all of God’s creation recognizing the creator in the created, it’s then that God becomes a verb.

Admittedly, I have days when I want God to be a noun so I can merrily go about my business unaffected by the world or world events. I don’t want to think about poverty, famine or war. They are just too big! Please, just let me get my groceries and go home so I can hide from the pain and suffering out there. Oh, I know enough about God to keep from shop lifting or being totally nasty to others. But, I’m not really concerned about what’s affecting them today. Please, please, just let me get on with my business and get home. God as a noun…

Then I see the mom with 3 kids trying to manage a grocery cart while keeping everyone safe in the parking lot. I can push her cart. God as a verb… I see the elderly woman who dropped her bag and oranges are rolling everywhere. I can pick up oranges. God as a verb… I see a handout asking for volunteers to mentor high school students. I can mentor. God as a verb… I see the check out person looking frazzled from long lines, crying children and demanding customers. I can smile, look her in the eye and tell her I appreciate how difficult some days can be. God as a verb…

Each of the Gospels tells a story of Jesus healing the blind. In other words, those who were without sight (hmmm, insight?) were brought to a place where they could see the world around them. (I guess that includes other people and all of the ‘stuff’ they are dealing with.) Those who are familiar with the stories are also familiar with Christ stating, “Your faith has made you well.” Faith – believing in something enough to live as if that something matters. It’s seeing God in and through all of creation and plunging into that crazy dance of faith with God. It’s recognizing where and when and who needs something we can offer. God as a verb… 

To know about a particular diet is a start, but it isn’t enough. You have to live it for it to be effective. And so it is with God…

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