I was stopped by a young boy who said he was doing a school project and would I help. I said, "Sure," and his dad filmed us as the boy asked," What are three words you would use to describe God?"
No time to ponder. Just answer.
I asked him if he knew what the words meant and he said he did. I just smiled and thought, "Well, maybe you do. And maybe you don't."
Because, despite their being the first words that sprang to mind when I was asked to describe my vision of God, I'm not entirely sure what I mean by them myself.
Oh, I know the definitions. What I'm not sure is why those three words sprang off my lips in 15 seconds.
On the drive home, I wondered about them.
As I peeled the peach and poured the cereal I was having for dinner, I wondered about them.
As I ate my summer dinner, I wondered about them.
The first was ineffable, too great to be expressed, too sacred to be uttered.
Yes, that is my first thought about God--a being so far beyond our comprehension that mere words cannot express the magnitude of being. God is the ineffable mystery of the universe. Now this doesn't mean that I don't think we can approach God through prayer. It just means that in the core of my being, I must truly believe that God is, above all, mystery.
The second was transcendent, beyond time, space, and limits.
For me, God is indeed transcendent. Being raised Catholic, teething on stories of saints and miracles, how could I not have transcendence as one of the core characters of the Divine? Although I don't always see evidence of miracles, I continue to believe in them. If I didn't, I would never pray--an experiment in answers, notwithstanding!
Finally, omniscient, all-knowing.
Although it was the last word, perhaps it lies the closest to the heart of my theology. I truly do believe that there is an all-knowing Divine that isn't just "out there," but "in here," as well. In our world, in our lives, in our beings. Now I don't believe that we are all gods (remember ineffable and transcendent came first and the people I know, myself included, are hardly that), but I do believe that in some mysterious way, we are all united in and through the Divine; in and through God.
Catholic teaching calls it "the body of Christ" and that terminology is the one that is the most deeply rooted in my being, but however you want to express it, the reality of Donne remains:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Maybe the question wasn't so much "How would you describe God?" as it was "Who is God?" In the end, the answers would be the same.