Ego eimi. These are the only Greek words that I know by heart. Ego eimi. In seminary, I was invited to use these words to find my own metaphors. I was invited to take this powerful phrase and describe myself. Ego eimi. I am. These are the words that Jesus speaks over and over again in the Gospel of John. He reminds us who he is — but each time he does, Jesus reminds us about God. Before Jesus spoke these words, these are the words that God spoke to Moses. When this good and faithful servant wanted to know God’s name, God replied: I am.
God is every metaphor we can name. God is every memory we can summon. God is every object we can hold. When Jesus dares to speak these words for himself, he reminds us that God is too. In the Muppet-saturated experience of my youth, I see God speaking in every object that we might use to describe ourselves. God’s voice is there first.
My spiritual director nudged me to think about how God might be speaking today. I don’t mean in the language of my denomination where God is still speaking (though obviously she is). Instead, it happened that I told her a story about something that is bugging me and her reply was simply, “What would God want you to do?” Because God doesn’t always speak in metaphors or objects. Sometimes God gives us a direction that doesn’t make any sense. A direction like: Remain. This isn’t the word that God spoke to me today. It’s the word I’m tripping over in Sunday’s Gospel. What does it mean to remain when living alone is the new norm? What does it mean to remain when we don’t stick around for conversation? What does it mean to remain when we feel more and more isolated? What does it mean to remain now? Do we need a new metaphor? Do we need more words? Or do we need to hear that voice reply, as it once did to Moses, I am?