Jung would agree: God is now here | Greg Asimakoupoulos

About the time I was contacted by the International Church in Luzern to consider becoming their interim pastor, my wife and I were reading a book by my friend Mark Batterson. In it, Mark called attention to a quote that the late Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung had inscribed on the entrance to his home in Zurich. In Latin it reads “Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.” The translation is “Called or not called God is present.”

According to Jung, he had the quotation engraved in stone above his front door to remind his patients and himself that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

When I read the quote and recognized the connection to Switzerland, I thought it would be the perfect saying to have displayed in the entry way of our apartment in Luzern. Searching the internet, I found the quote in an attractive font and printed it out. A visit to our local thrift store on Mercer Island resulted in finding the ideal frame in which to place the slogan.

For the past two months the quote Carl Jung cherished has greeted our guests. And since being here in Switzerland, I’ve learned that Jung’s grave marker also includes the Latin affirmation. Those six little words deeply impacted his perspective of life (and death).

Upon further research I discovered that Jung came across this Latin slogan in the 1563 writings of Erasmus. But the original quote can be traced back over two thousand years. It was supposedly delivered as Delphic oracle in Greece when the Lacedemonians were pondering an attack on Athens. That little piece of trivia piqued my interest in that my paternal grandfather was born and raised near Delphi in Greece.

But regardless of the origin of the phrase, what matters most is the truth of the saying. I have come to value its meaning. It is a simple affirmation that calls to mind the presence of the Almighty all the time everywhere whether we are aware of it or not.

Both Judaism and Christianity affirm the omnipresence of God. Psalm 139, for example, is an artistic portrait painted with words celebrating the beauty of this reality. There is no escaping God’s presence. We live our lives in the companionship of our Creator. It’s a truth whose consequences recently came into focus for me.

Before retiring as the chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores on Mercer Island last summer, I helped lead a ministry called BeFrienders. This unique program provides extensive training for residents in therapeutic non-judgmental listening skills. Upon completion of the various modules, this team of trained “listeners” is able to extend the pastoral care provided by the chaplain’s office. The BeFrienders were a real boon to my ministry.

One of the core values of the BeFrienders program is “Caring not curing.” Such an affirmation freed the trained listeners with whom I worked to simply be attentive to their assigned client and hear their heart.

Another core value of BeFrienders is “God is always present.” I especially resonated with that. Not only does it mirror Jung’s slogan, it freed my team to come alongside their clients assuming the Lord was already involved in the situation. And knowing that God is present, no challenge, problem or emotional pain was beyond healing. Such a truth was both liberating and faith-producing. If God is present, so also is hope.

Long before I became aware of Carl Jung’s Latin slogan, I saw a bumper sticker that called attention to the omniscience of God. Without any spaces the following words were displayed on the back of a sedan. As I focused on the bumper, I read GODISNOWHERE. Initially it looked as if the phrase was implying that GOD IS NO WHERE. But as I looked more carefully at the words that were in bolder print, I saw that it was stating quite emphatically that GOD IS NOW HERE.

And even though it’s too late to ask him personally, I can say with confidence the noted Swiss psychiatrist would agree.

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.