A common question in spiritual direction is to wonder how God has been present and active in one’s life. This is a challenging question because it assumes you can know, when many people doubt the very existence of God and others are quick to deny that God could have done something good for you when God didn’t do something good for someone else.
While there is no formula for how God is present and active in one’s life, and no certainty, because the divine is beyond our comprehension, there are particular kinds of experiences that draw me to make that claim and reveal the image of God that I hold. There are times when something that happens brings life and energy and tears of joy and gratitude and deep peace. This is easy to imagine if something good occurs, such as a successful surgery. But it can also happen in the midst of misery when a tiny ray of light breaks through, such as when the partner left behind experiences the comforting presence or a word from the partner who died.
A sense of being accompanied; circumstances rolling out that leave one door open and then the next and the next; finding oneself in the right place at the right time, when you didn’t know from reason that things would work that way—all these touches that I have known feel like being in the flow of God’s living stream, or in the energy-field of God’s love. The way things play out is far beyond what I might have orchestrated. There is a different feel, physically and spiritually, and gratitude pours forth.
Finding oneself spoken to by a dream or a passage of scripture or the words of a hymn or song that simply shows up in your mind; getting a sense that something is to be and the sense grows or deepens or is affirmed by your spiritual community or companions; being awed by something you see or that happens—all point beyond us, taking us out of our ego smallness and open us to love and oneness.
I believe that God is in the midst of such experiences, and that each of us and the world around us benefit from such awareness of and attentiveness to the Holy.
What is your image of God and how does that impact how you experience, or don’t experience, God’s presence and action?
Do you think God may be present even when you have a sense of God’s absence?
Look back over a period of time—a day, a week, a year—and see if you can be aware of a sense of holiness, or of having blocked such a possibility. Listen to your heart’s song.
For further reference:
“My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast . . . for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy” (see Psalm 63).
“Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here am I, Lord.” (See Acts 9: 1-19.)