Seeing God Everywhere
I went outside in my backyard today, sat, and enjoyed a spectacular Spring day in Central Texas.
It wasn't hot. The breeze was slightly cool, and the air was light and smelled slightly of flowers. The trees around my yard were that multi-colored green. They get this time of year when you can see all the different hues of green happening on one branch.
In a few months, all that will change. It'll be hotter than the sun's surface on the rocks around the seating area, and flies will buzz incessantly around my head.
The air will feel like a blast furnace, and my now perky flowers look wilted and sad. Which is why I am enjoying these days beforehand.
Despite all my caustic comments about Summer in Texas, I enjoy the changing seasons, and there is beauty in each of them.
It's not a coincidence that today was also the day I re-read this line from the poet Mary Oliver:
Oh, feed me this day, Holy Spirit, with
the fragrance of the fields and the
freshness of the oceans which you have
made, and help me to hear and to hold
in all dearness those exacting and wonderful
words of our Lord Christ Jesus, saying:
St. Francis called Creation "The Fifth Gospel" because of his beliefs that you could experience the presence of Christ all around in Creation if you had eyes that were willing to see and ears willing to hear.
The eternal and universal Christ, which the Gospel of John calls "the Word" or (more literally) "The Blueprint," is God's creative, expressive Word for all Creation, including us.
This Word, John's Gospel teaches, was with God at the beginning of all things and was God at the beginning of all things. John goes on to say that nothing would have been created without the Word, but through the Word, everything is spoken into being.
To put this another way, Jesus--the Christ--is everywhere, present in all of Creation, in every expression of God's loving creativity, which includes the Universe and everything in it, you, me, and everyone that ever lived or will live.
How does it change how you feel about being a follower of Christ, knowing that everywhere you look, there is the potential to see and hear Jesus beckoning you to follow him?
Every day we are called to follow Jesus, to be his disciples. We don't have to be in a church service to hear the call or to experience Christ's presence. All we need to do is look around us with better vision, and our ears attend to the frequency of the Divine.
Every moment we have opportunities to see signs and symbols of the creative, expressive Word of God, Jesus the Christ.
And here's an incredible revelation: When we open ourselves up to experience God, we have difficulty shutting it off. When you are in this mode of being, you can't not see God everywhere.
I have always been struck by Thomas Merton's experience on the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, an experience that is actually commeorated by a historical marker.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, he saw everyone around him "shining like the sun." He wrote this about it:
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness…
That vision changed him. Even though the moment faded, the memory of it never did, and he found himself even more open to seeing God in the world and in others.
May you find moments today and every day from this day when you experience God in the world around you. And may the memories of what you see guide you to becoming ever more open to God's presence.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.