In the Letter to the Hebrews, we are given an exalted view of what it means to be a human being. The author quotes the sublime Psalm 8:
Who are we that you should be mindful of us. . .?
Who is any one of us, that you should care for us, each uniquely?
Yet you have made us little less than the angels,
and crowned us with glory and honor.
How does God care for us? In a highly focused way. What makes God “God” is an unimaginable intentionality of love for each and every creature, and for each of us. We could say that God’s love is given, not generically, like the rain, but uniquely, like a mother’s love, to each creature. It is Love that sustains us in being. It is as though each creature, each person, each one of us were the only recipient of God’s loving care. And we human beings have been given the gift of aspiring toward that kind of love, to love each person, each part of creation, intentionally and with a sense of wonder.
We can speak, then, of a unique place for the human within God’s creation. For we are not only the intersection of matter and spirit with the capacity to love with intentionality, but we have the reflective capacity to see that, to stand in awe and wonder over this gift. We further have the power to question, as does the Psalmist: Who are we, that you have made us this way? Why do we exist at all, having been drawn out of nothingness by your love? In wonderment, gratitude, and questioning, we discover that from this capacity to love springs forth the capacity to pray: to praise, to adore, to sing and give thanks—intentionally, and with all our being. This is a gift given to no other creature under heaven.
But . . .
In the face of this, so much tragedy, death, sin. Darkness seems to prevail. The gift has been occluded. Day after day after day takes up the story. To be human is also to feel unmoored from God, and God from us. On the one hand, we know God’s love and stand in awe before it; on the other, we are ever waiting for it, as though it had not yet come. It is at times ungraspable, unbelievable. In our daily lives we come to feel like Estragon waiting for Godot—a Godot who never arrives.
Little less than gods? With God’s mercy, this is perhaps one way of trying to express the conundrum of being human. Yet, as the Psalmist elsewhere says (139:6), “All of this is too much for me.” We are left with a gaping openness toward the unanswerable, waiting for God—the God who nevertheless has already offered his love. How do we hold all this together in our mortal state? unfinished…