A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence

As my son and I headed to our music lessons last night, the sky to the north was the colour of lead. Given that and the humidity, rain would’ve been no surprise.

But as I stepped outside after my lesson, I saw something amazing: a double rainbow.

It might not be rare, but I’d never seen one before, and I wished I had a camera so I could snap a photo to show my son. (The best I can do is suggest a visit to the Weather Network’s website.) I could only say, “Wow. That is so…beautiful.”

And then I remembered what God told Noah about rainbows after the flood:

“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

~ Genesis 9:14-15*

When we have a spiritual “dry spell”—when we feel as though God is far from us—we have only to look to nature to see how close he is. Notice a cooling breeze on a hot summer day when we’re gardening. Warming rays of sunshine on a chilly winter morning. Crocuses springing to life after a long winter. Refreshing rain after some humid weather, and the rainbows that follow. Just read chapters 38 to 41 of the book of Job for more thoughts on God’s work in nature.

If we need reassurance that God is everywhere, that he hears our prayers and knows what we need before we ask, we can look to creation. We can praise God for the beauty he shares with us and the constant reminders he gives us that he is present, if only we’re willing to notice them.

Praise him, sun and moon,

praise him, all you shining stars!

Praise him, you highest heavens,

and you waters above the heavens!

 

Let them praise the name of the LORD!

For he commanded and they were created.

And he established them for ever and ever;

he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.

~ Psalm 148:3-6

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Today my morning didn’t get off to a great start: it was raining, the sky was grey, and I had to take my car to the shop because of a flat-tire warning.

After a long wait, I learned that, in an area busy with new home construction, I’d driven over a nail. And I’d have to come back in on the weekend to have the tire repaired.

Feeling tired and frustrated, I was returning home when I heard these words from the CD I was playing, India.Arie’s Voyage to India:

All of this is not by chance

That’s how I know that God is real

This beautiful song, “God is Real,” talks about how the amazing wonder of creation—the elements, sunrises and sunsets, flowers, rain, ocean life and more—shows the singer that God is real because none of these things could just happen.

I like to think that I see the beauty in nature, and I remind myself that we have God to thank for it all. But I started wondering how often I fail to see God in other people and their actions. Like the service representative at the car dealership, who saw that I was tired and stressed out and found time to have my tire checked and schedule a repair, even though the shop was busy.

Or my taekwon-do instructor, who is patient and encouraging even though I often have a self-critical attitude and not the “indomitable spirit” we talk about in our student oath.

Or my mother, who is seldom too busy to talk, no matter what day or time I phone and regardless of whether I call to share good news or vent.

Or my son, who is not embarrassed to be seen with me in public even though he’s a teenager and I drive a station wagon, listen to ’80s music in the car sometimes, and still prefer vinyl to CDs and MP3s.

If I choose to see God in the people I cross paths with during my day, I can’t help but have a greater sense of his presence and be more thankful for the way he uses others to bless me…and remember that he also uses me to bless others, whether with a smile, a word of encouragement, or a kind act.

I pray that we would see God in the people around us. And I pray that this weekend, as we remember our faithful departed, we would recall how God worked through them during their lives on earth.

Occasionally, I have to ask my son to change his shirt before Mass on Sunday. I remind him that the church is God’s house, and that makes skull t-shirts kind of inappropriate.

While the church is God’s house, I think we tend to forget this point the apostle Paul made in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?”*

The priest reminded me of this verse yesterday during his homily. He gave us a prayer that he advised us to say often throughout our lives: “God within me, I adore you.”

This prayer is short but profound. We can easily forget that, just like the temple in the Old Testament, any church is far too small to contain God’s presence. As King Solomon said in 1 Kings 8:27, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!” We can forget that God is with us—not just in that hour or so on any given Sunday morning, but always—and that we receive Jesus when we receive the Eucharist. We can think it’s all right to leave the practice of our faith at the doors when we leave and pick it up the following week, or when the summer holidays are over, or the following Christmas or Easter.

In fact, at all times and places, God is with us. The writer of Psalm 139 recognized this when he asked God (in verses 7-8), “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?”

If we remind ourselves that God is within us, we will be more mindful of his presence and our need of the wisdom, gifts and comfort available to us through the Holy Spirit.

We can take a cue from the words of the hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I pray that we would be more aware of God’s presence not only on Sunday in his house but every day in our hearts.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition).


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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