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Thinking about God, the World, and Hats.

Updated: Jan 16, 2022

Recently I've been reflecting on the ways we think about God. It seems we think about God in the only way we can - as a very large version of different human roles such as Master, Savior, Creator, Companion, Teacher, Artist, Healer, Artist, Gardener, Parent, etc. We also project not so nice roles onto God: Judge, Punisher, Critic, Policeman, Boss, Negligent Parent, etc. when we don't agree with how things are going.

From these human points of view, God wears many hats and has infinite names, all of our own making, and our experience of God (and ourselves) follows these limited projections.

What to do? Thankfully, God provides us with his real name in both Sanskrit and Hebrew. In Sanskrit, So'ham means, "I am That," which could be understood as "I am the All," which implies that God is both the Creator and all-pervasive Consciousness, as well as the Subject of all possible statements - that is, he is everything in creation. In other words, God is both the Creator and the Created. Similarly, in Hebrew, the Lord is known as YHWH, which translates as Yahweh, "the Self-existent," or "the becoming one." He is also known as "I am That I am," or as "I will become what I become."

These names reflect the basic truth of reality: only God truly exists, and everything in creation is an expression or form of God. God, in other words, wears all the hats.

This particular hat is also worn by me. It's a Panama hat, a brimmed straw hat of Equadorian origin. It's resting on the extended handle of my suitcase, which is sitting outside the Phoenix airport as my wife and I await the shuttle that will take us to our home in Sedona. The bright dots of light are created by the sun shining through holes in the aluminum screen at the shuttle pick-up zone, which makes a light-filled yet mostly shaded area to wait in. I was enchanted by the way the screen re-creates itself by covering my hat with the same pattern of light and shadow it has, so I made a photo of it to celebrate how my hat thus became semi-camouflaged, a canvas to reveal the painting of light and shadow made by the screen.

As the photographer, I am God playing Paul the photographer, who is creating a small world of light, shadow, and shape in the Sedona Shuttle pick-up zone at PHX. I am also God experiencing Paul's enjoyment of this image, which is both playful and visually interesting (at least to me).

I encourage you to consider what hats you wear in this life, and what bits of creation you help bring into being, however small they may seem to be. What joy do they bring to you and to others?

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22 jun 2021

Deja vu! I once owned an Eddy Bauer Ecuadorian Panama hat almost exactly like that one. I only wore it in Alaska. I was the only one on the North Slope with a Panama hat. But my hat never got to play with the sunlight in such a delightful way that Paul's does. Paul's camera has a way of grabbing striking images that are both static and animated in an almost mystical and enchanting fashion. Whenever I find myself transfixed to a beautiful, unique image such as our sun-speckled hat, I, too, come to the realization that I am the universal conscious energy that is witnessing, enjoying, and appreciating a simple aspect of myself, and I just love it when…

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23 jun 2021
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Hi Bill! It's great to hear from you. Your words are also rich and full of music and significance. For me, photography is a form of seeing the divine in the so-called "ordinary" - the light, the textures and colors, the mystery of how so many things are both ordinary and extraordinary, plain and divine. In many ways, carrying an iPhone has made me a much better photographer because I always have a decent camera in my pocket, and have many opportunities to see the divinity in this world more frequently.

You've also inspired me to post more regularly since I know now that at least one person is enjoying my posts.

We're back in Eugene until mid-September, and I'd…

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