He can be found, felt…perceived in any place.
Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Brother Lawrence, St Ignasius, and countless others, past and present, tell us how and where to find God, to hear His directions and desires for our lives.
This morning I was reading Nouwen’s book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life. In today’s passages he was discussing finding God in the books that we read and in nature. These venues can be especially helpful, often making it easier for us to hear His voice, see His beauty, feel His presence, taste and savor His many blessings on our lives.
Still, another message hit me as I read. As clearly and as demandingly as if it were flashing in neon atop a tall billboard I was struck by the certainty that:
If God is everywhere equally present, then He can be found, felt…perceived in any place.
If God is everywhere equally present, as I believe and have been taught, then, simply being conscious of Him in our midst is the key … and the challenge.
No matter where we are, who we’re with, what is occurring, God is there. Walking down the street, on a treadmill at the gym, on a forest path, along the water, in a line at the grocery store, driving down the road.
To be sure, some places are more conducive to feeling our Lord’s presence, but He’s everywhere, just waiting for us to join Him in His holy purpose. Waiting for us to walk with Him along the way He has planned for us. Waiting for us to acknowledge His presence with us.
No matter the circumstances of our surroundings — whether beautiful, natural, sanctified and holy; or man-made full of industry and technology, metallic maybe, full of cold hard surfaces, filled with loud noisy people of all sizes and shapes; or even places polluted, foul, and rank with the discarded, the misused, the abused — He’s there, waiting for us to beckon to Him, waiting for us to cry out to Him maybe, that Now is the time we need to draw near to Him.
Our first steps toward Him may be shaky and feeble, but as with any new endeavor, practice helps us remember Him more and more often. We will soon learn to call upon and recall those ways and places where we discovered Him earlier. Deep in our hearts we remember the warm blessing of His love as He showered it upon us. We remember (or maybe realize for the first time) that He was with us no matter where we were or what we were doing. We remember over and over again, if we are searching for Him, that He is constantly sending us messages – through the words of people we encounter, the material we read, the sites and sounds that draw our attention. He’s there loving us, waiting to participate in close relationship with us every minute throughout our day.
How did I deserve such goodness, I wonder?
That’s easy. I didn’t. I don’t.
He is simply there for me – for each of us – waiting to bless us, waiting to take each part of us, no matter how broken, or even fetid it may be, and wash it clean. With His blood He prepares and purifies us to be His, so that we may become a blessing to share with others.