A new week begins. It teases me with promise. I’ll take this over despair any day. Despair was getting old. It’s time for something new.
Under the warmth of a lazy Sunday morning shower, I realized that I haven’t been taking good care of myself and why that has been a mistake. Inspiration often comes from unexpected places: the aftermath of a lover’s quarrel, the words of a stranger, a beautiful sunset, the flight of an unusual bird outside the window.
In those random moments something within us is touched by something beyond ourselves. It doesn’t come in a clap of thunder and a flash of light or in a holy face in the side of a grilled cheese sandwich or in the streaks on a corporate window or the rings in the burl of a tree.
It is a whisper, a vague notion, a distant discomfort, a questionable impression. We are usually the only witness and an uncertain one at that. Is this really some higher power touching my life? Is this a figment of my mind or wishful thinking? Might this just be my better self intervening, trying to get me back on the right track?
I have to answer “Yes!” but does that yes mean that I have eliminated the possibility of something beyond myself touching my life? I have to answer, “No!”
Young, naive, wounded while I was in the convent. I used to pray that God would make me a saint but never let me know it so that I wouldn’t be guilty of a lack of humility. All these years later, I can smile at my innocence and my desperate attempt to redeem myself while making sense of it all. I doubt I’ll ever levitate, bi-locate or bear the stigmata. I’m sure that is the not the type of sainthood called for in modern times. Saints such as these seem weird to most of us. Their weirdness gets more attention than how they may reveal the Divinity that is relevant to our lives.
God can easily become an odd and isolated relic, a holy but perverse magician. God is more effective if He/She shows up in the fox holes of war or walks beside the prostitute or stands alongside the uninsured sick, the single mom in the welfare line or the emotionally and spiritually broken and any of those who seem to have little worth or power. This God is much harder to detect. Our desperation can cloud the presence and the existence of such a God. We grapple with the “whys” of it all and our doubt obscures the reality of His/Her presence.
It is at those times when faith is most relevant. A simple, pure gift that defies logic and reason but anchors us to something better beyond us, something that gives us hope and touches our lives with love in unexpected and quiet ways. This God comes to us in a whisper, calling us to join a cause not limited by who we are. This God allows our lives to be plagued by doubt. This God allows us to grapple with the challenges of life that lead us to the edge of all that is incomplete and broken within us.
Often, in those desperate moments, I close my eyes and see myself standing at the top of a high mountain. Head thrown back, arms outstretched and reaching heavenward, I beg for God’s help. Silence answers me. No voices, no words of wisdom, no sudden healing or miracles follow my plea.
I wait for what seems like a long time. I feel the wind buffet me. My arms remain outstretched, my eyes closed. I wait just a little longer for this miracle. The sun warms me. It touches my face. A gentle and easy peace slowly fills me. I open my eyes, sigh and head back down the mountain. No miraculous divine intervention changed my life yet in my pocket I carry a sliver of hope and the distant feeling that God is walking beside me.
This morning when I sat down to write, I had nothing in mind. I don’t like writing about God. I feel vulnerable. I worry about offending some one with some thing I say or believe. I worry about misinterpreting those vague and distant signals I believe God sometimes places in my head. I worry that I’ll look like a fool or worse yet, a nut. And yet, against my better judgment, contrary to my comfort and the opportunity to choose a less controversial topic, I write a Sunday sermon.