Where do you encounter God?

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Where do you encounter God?  Do you just encounter Him in your prayer time?  Or do you see Him in everything around you?

Do you see Him in the strength of the rocks, the sturdiness and height of a pine tree, the depths of the ocean, in a smile or in the peace of a loved one as their earthly bodies begin to fade from this temporary home?  Do you hear Him in the songs of the birds, the sound of the water falling, in the laughter of a child, the kindness spoken through a stranger or words you read in a book?  Do you feel Him in the caress of a loved one, through the touch of the wind or the warmth of the sun?  Do you know His presence is with you when you smell the scents of the wild flowers or the newness of spring after fresh falling rain?  Do you taste His sweetness in the most delighted pastry or His passion in the bitterness of a glass of wine?

Are you aware of His presence through each of your senses?  Everything around you, within you, that is a part of you encounters the presence of God.  Are you too distracted to recognize Him in the smallest detail surrounding you?

I’ve read that when you lose one of your senses, the brain rewires and  enhances other senses.  Over a year ago, I began to notice that I was losing my hearing.  There were some low tones that I absolutely could not hear.  I love nature and I love walking or sitting near running water from a fall, a fountain or just across a bed of rocks.  I also love to sit and listen to the birds.  I find so much peace and rest in God’s presence when I am outdoors tuned into the sounds of nature.  Losing my hearing was a bit scary and losing this piece of God’s presence in my life was just as bothersome.

In the spring of last year, after visiting my ENT, I was diagnosed with a genetic hearing disorder.  My options were surgery that had a 1% chance of total hearing loss or hearing aids the rest of my life.  After consulting with the surgeon, I decided to have the surgery.  I remember contemplating a bad day in surgery, resulting in losing my hearing.  The more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, I began to feel at peace that if I lost my hearing perhaps God just wanted me to tune my other senses and see His presence through my sight, taste, touch and smell.

Through this experience and others in my life, I am realizing in this journey with God I can see, hear, taste, feel and smell His presence all day and all around me.  And so can you – all it takes is to awaken your senses and awareness.

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In nature, you can see the possibilities and strength of God by observing the strength of the rocks and the height of the pine trees.  You can discover how intricate and special you are by observing the details of a flower, a leaf, or a butterfly.  You can watch the bees as they move from flower to flower and only pollinate the flowers they are intended to and recognize you have a unique purpose just as these bees do.  You can taste of His passion each time you consume the Eucharist and are transformed through Him.  You can feel the embrace of His love through the hug of a child or a dear friend.  As the wind blows across your face, you can feel His breath, breathe life into your being.

Today, I challenge you to pay attention to the smallest of details and see God revealing Himself in some way to you in your unique life as you journey closer to Him in this temporary home.

Be Still…

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11

pexels-photo-326055.jpegHave things in your life been hectic, with little room for God? Are you struggling to sit quietly in prayer to listen to what He wants to tell you? Is your mind full of clutter and preventing you from being in the stillness, the presence of God?

Sometimes I think when we are at this pivotal moment where we are struggling to find this time, to free our minds, to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be still, God places us in a circumstance that does just that. He calls us to rest in Him when we are tired, weary, worn out from the busyness of life.

For me, I think this has been recent. I was at a pivotal moment where I was worn out, struggling to find time to pray. When I did find time, my mind was everywhere but there. I remember long ago when I was at the beginning of my spiritual journey, I told my spiritual director that my mind was full of clutter and I couldn’t pray. She suggested that perhaps God wanted me to bring this clutter to prayer. Again, recently, I found myself at this point, struggling to pray with all this clutter. Except this time the clutter was more about all the things I needed to do or to not forget I needed to do. Every time I sat down to pray, when I found a few minutes, my mind was focused on everything I needed to do that day.  My days had become too busy, too busy to even set aside a small amount of time for focused prayer.

Several months ago, I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a hospital bed for 2 days with nothing to do, but rest.  This little episode caused me a lot of downtime, a lot of rest. I found myself often wondering what am I going to do with all this restful time, in the absence of the busyness? Then God whispers, “be still and know that I am God.” I am the God who created day and night, water and land, all the animals that roam the earth, and most of all you. Trust in my ways and embrace my love by resting in my arms today. Rest your mind and let me guide your thoughts and your path. I will direct your life, through the story I have already written and the living master piece I have set before you. Now let me direct you by first being still and listening to the tiny whispers you hear. For in Me, you find all that you long for, all that you need. Rest my dear one. Rest!

In the busyness of your life consider setting aside time to be still and rest in the presence of God, at the feet of Jesus.  Quiet your mind and listen to what He is saying to you.  Your prayer is a conversation between you and Him, let Him speak to you as you rest your mind and your voice.

Freedom

Imagine you are walking along the beach.  The sand is sliding in and out of your toes as the ocean brushes over your feet ever so gently.  The sun begins to rise on the horizon.  The sky is painted in an array of orange and pink hues.  The view is breathtaking.  As you breathe in the fresh air, you smell the newness of the day that has been placed before you.  As you continue to peer across the ocean embracing all the beauty before your eyes, a seagull flies nearby, sweeping near the ocean surface.   What a delight as you imagine the freedom he has in the open sky.  Just as you imagine soaring free in the beautiful skies, the wind blows across your face and through your hair and you feel an immense freedom.  Peace sweeps through your entire body and you know deep within that there is a presence within you whispering “I am within you and will never leave you”.  At this moment, you experience the greatest freedom from the things that bound you in the world around you.  You want to stay in this place.  You soak up all that you can to experience it as long as you can, walking freely along the beach shore engaging all your senses.  The world feels as though it has stood still and it is just you, the beach and all that has been placed before you in the peaceful scenario by the one who has loved you from the beginning, your first love who “formed [your] inmost  being and knit [you] in [your] mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13.

In this moment God meets you where you are.   He meets you in this pivotal moment of your life as you embrace all he has laid before you.  Do you feel His encounter?  Have you wondered where he has been lately?  Have you been spiritually starved, caught up in the busyness of life?  Are you restless and feel like you never have a chance to sit down, let alone pray?  Or may be you just feel there is more to your life, more to you, God is calling you but you don’t know what for?  Or perhaps you are afraid to be still and listen, afraid of what you may hear?  May be you are afraid to surrender control of the things in your life, afraid of the unknown?  Whatever it may be, in this moment when you let go and let His presence sweep you into the solitude of you and Him, feel the freedom of knowing He is with you as He guides your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and thoughts.

So often we feel stuck in the mundane of life.  We check the boxes on our to do lists and even the boxes in our faith.  One day, we wake up and feel something is missing in our life.

Each of us was born with a desire, a desire for God.  We fill this desire or longing, with money, sex, status, material things, etc.  There is always something missing, something more.  That something more is God.  He is the only one that can fully satisfy that desire.  He created us to desire a relationship with Him.  If we never establish it and try to fill this desire with other stuff, we will never be full, something will always be missing.

A Walk On The Seashore

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Have you walked along the beach lately?  Have you ever taken delight in combing the beach for seashells or perhaps other interesting things?  I remember when I was a kid, we lived on a naval base in Florida.  We visited the beaches often.  I recall searching for sand dollars, seashells and shark teeth.  I also recall being stung by a jellyfish.  When we walk along the seashore there is no telling what we may discover as we intentionally search the sand below our feet.

Today, walk along the seashore with me.  Delight in the quietness around you as you hear the crashing waves of the ocean and feel the coolness of the water wash over your feet.  Notice the water turning over the sand as it washes ashore.  Do you see anything below?  Does anything stand out before you?

Now look at your day, your week, the footprints that are trailing behind you in the sand.  Has anything significant happened?  Let your thoughts turn over the events of the day or week, searching for those feelings that have been the strongest in your day or week.  Pause for a moment and listen to those feelings, what are they telling you about your day or week.  Wash the sand away from them and discover the gem of those feelings.  Are they feelings of joy and happiness or are they feelings of anger and resentment.  Perhaps they are feelings of peace or regrets.  Whatever they may be, search them deeper, uncover what God may be revealing to you through those feelings.

As you search deeper to understand these feelings, to discover what they are and what they mean for your journey, you notice someone walking towards you.  He approaches you with gentleness and love and invites you to breakfast that he has prepared right there on the shore of the sea.  You feel you know him but you are uncertain.  As you accept his offer for breakfast, your feelings you just uncovered reveal the fruits of your journey to you.  You know what God is telling you through these feelings, what He is asking you to do in your journey.  Everything is so clear to you and you realize this person offering you breakfast is Jesus, and He is guiding your thoughts as you overturn and uncover your feelings.  He comforts any feelings that are troubling you and He illuminates any feelings of joy and peace.  Sit by the shore with Him for a little while, be present with Him and embellish this moment of comfort and peace of all that you are feeling from the day or week.

In John 21:1-14, Jesus appears to His disciples at the sea, just as He has appeared to you.  They are out fishing one night and are not successful in catching anything.  Jesus is standing on the shore and asks them about their catch and then tells them to throw the nets over the right side of the boat and they catch a plentitude of fish.  At this point Peter realizes it’s Jesus standing before them.  Their disappointments of not catching any fish have turned into a moment of comfort and joy, not because they caught fish but because they see Jesus.

Just as the disciples delight in the presence of Jesus, may you as well because He is present with you whether you are on the shore of the sea or in your house staring out the window.

An Encounter by the Creek

“We must speak to God as a friend speaks to his friend, servant to his master; now asking some favor, now acknowledging our faults, and communicating to Him all that concerns us, our thoughts, our fears, our projects, our desires and in all things seeking His counsel.” – St Ignatius of Loyola

Imagine that you are sitting under a tree, near the edge of a creek flowing into a small pool.  The water flows across each stone, one by one, moving uniquely across each stone as if it were a unique part of the creek.  The colors before you, on the side of the creek, are vivid and the sound of the water dropping into the pool sounds like a musical instrument resonating in your head.  The breeze is gentle and cool.

As you watch the water flow over each stone in the creek, you notice each stone in your own life, moments of pain and moments of peace.  As you look up from the view before you, you see this man beside you.  He is very gentle in nature.  His eyes appear to be full of sorrow, yet his face appears to be pure as the driven snow.  His eyes reveal a story of pain and of love.  There seems to be something very familiar about him but you can’t put your finger on it.

You greet him with a smile and a warm hello.  He sits beside you embracing the view before you.  His demeanor seems very welcoming.  You look into his eyes and you can feel this deep sense of trust within him, not something you would feel with a complete stranger.  As you sit with him, you feel an enormous amount of peace all around you and everything seems more vibrant and full of life.

He turns to you with gentleness and invites you to share your sadness, your joys, your thoughts, and your desires.  You feel very comfortable opening up your heart to him, you don’t know why but he feels like the perfect companion.  You begin to share your deepest desires, your deepest hurts, your fears and the moments that bring you joy and happiness.  He looks at you with love and compassion and holds out his hands so that you can feel the warmth of his love.  It is at this moment that you realize your new found friend, this stranger beside the creek is your first true love, your best friend.  He is your Lord, Jesus, listening and loving every bit of you and waiting to embrace you with his exuberant love.  Will you accept his invitation of friendship?  Will you sit with him as he gives you his undivided attention?

 

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He Guides You

Listen to the water pouring from the fountain.  Can you hear the fast movement of “drip, drop”?  Envision the water as your soul, mind and heart pouring out to Jesus. All your thoughts and the feelings within your heart are pouring just as the fountain.  As the water free falls from its highest point, feel the surrender of your own will.  Let Him guide you, give you strength and wisdom to bear your crosses in your life with love and humility.  Feel the stirring inside you.  You know He is near.  He is present in the wind and in the flowing water from the fountain.  He sings a song of peace to you as the birds chirp.  He whispers ever so slightly that He will never abandon you.  He will walk with you, sit beside you and guide you in each intimate time you spend with Him.  All you need to do is open up your soul, mind and heart. He loves you and wants you to come to this place and sit with Him and pour out the deepest part of your soul, mind and heart.

Journey in the Woods

Take a journey with me into the woods.  The morning air is brisk, yet calm and peaceful.  As you embark into the woods, you aren’t sure where the journey will take you.  You just know that God knows.  This journey you are pursuing is not just an earthly journey through the woods, but a spiritual journey.  Your mind is open to what God wants you to see, hear, smell, or touch.  It is His tour.  He is guiding you through the trails laid before you.  As you enter the woods, everything looks brown with no room for color.  Suddenly you hear a choir from Heaven, a delight to your ears, as the birds sing a beautiful tune to you and the creek beside you flows along enhancing the rhythm.  As you walk along, the leaves beneath your feet crunch with each step and sprinkled throughout, you see signs of life, of hope, as you marvel at the tiny purple flowers along the path.  There is life and beauty amongst the dullness and death.  There are many knots along the way reminding you of the tangles and knots in your life.  If only God could help you sort them and find the base of their entanglement.  Further into the path, the creek is jammed and the flow of the water finds another route.  The gentle peaceful flow begins to flow faster and more rapid when obstacles are in its way.  Yet the creek continues to flow despite the changes.  You finally reach a clearing, your destination to talk with God about all you have seen, to understand what He is telling you through all that you have seen, heard, smelt or touched.  He looks at you and asks you, have you seen the beauty in the midst of the dullness, in the knots, and in the obstacles?  You ponder His question and realize that all that you have seen are parallels to your life, the sorrow, lack of joyful moments, the entanglements and adversity.  Then you realize that in the midst of this, you have also seen hope, beauty and peaceful surrender.  At this very moment, you realize that the scenery before you was perfectly placed, just as the things in your life have been perfectly placed.  You sit in the clearing for a moment and surrender your will, knowing that the fruit of what you have seen, heard, touched or smelt in the woods, despite the wilderness surrounding you, is a result of hope and life.  At that moment, you feel peaceful, unafraid, and joyful because you are loved and you are not alone.  Your journey bears fruit in the midst of all things, including adversity and sorrow.  As you begin to journey out, you see a butterfly leading your way, a sign of your transformation from death to life.