I’m noticing a connection in the different names for God. Jehovah. Allah. Yahweh. Hosanna. Adonai. All have the sound “ah” as part of them. Is there something we should notice here?
Is God, (which is not a name so much as a descriptive) the surprise, the awakening? When we are surprised in a gentle way we often say “Ah-ha!” It is a sound of coming to ourselves, of waking up. It is a sound of an awareness that is deepening. It is a sound of new understanding and growth. It is a good sound. It means that we are stretching ourselves and growing into awareness and consciousness.
Or, another idea, do we find God in the exhalation? A breath out is an “ah”. Of course, God breathed life into us, so the sound we breathe out is that same breath. It didn’t change from going into us to going out of us. And when God was breathing into us, God was actually breathing out. God breathes out, and we breathe in.
Another idea, is God to be found hiding in “amen” and “alleluia”? In our giving thanks, we are pointing back to God. With our God-given breath we are giving it back in praise. I’m reminded of the idea of giving up the first born of the livestock. It takes a lot to give up the firstborn – you aren’t guaranteed a second. It takes a lot to give up your breath, for the same reason.
There are no guarantees. But we are made to love and serve God, and not to hoard up any of the gifts we have been given by God. To use our breath to praise God is the simplest and most honest gift we can offer.
Wherever we go, there we are. Wherever we go, there is God with us.
There is a Jewish podcast that I listen to a lot. The writer/speaker likes to talk a lot about the first word in the Torah. The word is b’reishit. It sounds a bit like “Bray-sheese.” It is often translated as “in the beginning”, but the author says that “with beginnings” is better. It isn’t about the beginning of time, but beginning itself. Every moment is a new beginning, a new chance.
He has said that if you rearrange the letters of the first word, it spells the “song of the aleph-bet (the alphabet)”. That is pretty poetic, and it makes a lot of sense. I’ve heard that the Jews believe that God spoke or sang the world into existence with the Torah.
The writer/speaker has talked about many different meanings and depths to this word, this beginning of beginnings, but I don’t think he has ever talked about the fact that the Torah begins with the second letter of the alphabet and not the first. So I will.
Why would the Torah’s first word start with B, and not A? For starters, God is always surprising us. The underdog is constantly getting promoted in the Bible stories. The second son gets the inheritance most of the time. The last shall be first.
I think God wants us to not expect things with God to be the same pattern as it does with the world. God’s ways are not our ways. The rules change. Don’t become complacent. What you thought was going to happen isn’t always what is going to happen. You are not in charge.
But then, it all goes back to the sound, Ah. Sometimes you only notice something when it is missing. By having B as the first letter and not A, it points back to A. And A, “ah,” points back to God. And God is the beginning of everything.