The Awakened heart - God does not show up
Whether we are distracted or not, whether we know it or not, whether we even want it or not, a communication between the soul and God keeps going on beneath the surface and self-awareness. It is given, everywhere and at all times. There is no need to attain it; there is nothing we need to do to make it happen. Neither can we escape from it. As the Psalmist's words, "Where can I flee from your presence?..." (169)
As I read these words by Gerald May, in The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love you Need, I was thinking about the phrase I often hear from Christians, "God showed up." Sometimes it's said as a sort of testimonial of something remarkable. At other times it is expressed as a prayer: "God, show up in/at_____." The phrase always bothers me a bit...I think it's because it betrays the sentiment that May is presenting above - that God is with us always.
So, the "God showed up" phrase keeps putting God "out there" - or putting God as an occasional actor. In reality, in our faith-walk, it is far less about God "showing up" and far more about our noticing the ways God is already present and active in the midst of our daily ordinary lives. Again, whether we know it or not, want it or not, or are distracted or not...God is present always. He doesn't just "show up" on a whimsy or in response to our pleas and prayers.
The little interior glances mentioned last week, will surely help in recognizing the sense of God with us always. May says, though, that cultivating a deeper, conscious connection with God is where "we encounter the grits and guts of love" (170). And in the midst of "practicing" this direct encounter with God, we experience more than simple "sweet" or "neat" God-things. Leaning in to open ourselves to let God love us is where we are deeply transformed. This often happens as what we think is true of God collides with what is actually true of God.
May suggests that we too often prefer our handed down, faith tradition images of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as opposed to the ways that God is actually revealing himself - or herself - to us. Digging deeper requires a yearning to be in tune with God - and then a corresponding attentiveness, openness, willingness, and joining in to "what is" vs. trying to control what "should be." I think many of us don't go here because this can open us up to great disappointment with God, our tradition etc. Don't worry - it is a grace-gift meant to open you to what God is actually saying right here, right now, in the midst of your real life. You cannot experience the heights, depths, widths and breadths of God's love (that surpasses our understanding) without relinquishing control of your preferred images of God. It'd be like having a poster of Alicia Keyes on your wall and worshiping her, getting to know her music and tour schedule and memorizing little factoids about her. You could know everything about her - or think you do. Then imagine one day she walks into your workplace, asks for you, and invites you to coffee. It's likely you'd discover things about her that are not expressed in her music, in gossip rags, or photographs.
FOR REFLECTION AND PRACTICE
- Scan through your life to those moments where you experienced beauty, connection, a deep stirring etc. It could have been when watching TV, folding laundry, out in nature, or with other people. Take note of those moments - what patterns/themes do you notice?
- How many of these moments were in what you would define as "spiritual" moments at church or in some religious gathering? How many were outside of those gatherings?
- In this moment might you ask God, "Who do you want me to know that you are?" and see what rises up in your soul.
Pray: "Lord, I want to know you and be more in touch with this ongoing conversation. Please grant me the grace to let myself be who I am, just as I am - and to let you be who you are, just as you are.
Please let us know what you discover. What are your challenges in connecting to this always present communication with God in your life? And, if you didn't catch Tuesday's reFlection on a beautiful breath prayer - check it out!