Will you join me in a prayer of St. Francis?
God to enfold me, God to surround me,
God in my speaking, God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping, God in my waking,
God in my watching, God in my hoping.
God in my life, God in my lips,
God in my soul, God in my heart.
God in my sufficing, God in my slumber,
God in my ever-living soul, God in my eternity.
St. Patrick wrote this beautiful hymn to give voice to how God is within us, around us, giving every breath we breathe as a gift and a confirmation that God chooses us. St. Paul said it in his sermon to some curious bystanders in Athens: “In God we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
I don’t know about you, but when I try to think of God’s presence in my life like this, my head starts swimming: that God so envelopes you and me that there is nothing that can separate us from God. And if we were separated from God, we would simply cease to exist. We belong to God, and we always have and always will belong to God. It is God’s own breath of Spirit that fills our lungs with every breath.
So if God is so inherently present in our existence, how is it that we don’t experience it every day?
How is it that we can feel God’s absence, when our very breath is God’s Spirit moving through us?
What is missing in us seems to be awareness. Our eyes are shrouded, closed. We can’t see what is right in front of us. This is seems to be a theme throughout the greatest of the world’s thinkers.
In his allegory of the Cave, Plato talks about how we’re like people living in a cave with our backs to the fire.
All we can see are the shadows-
shadows cast by ourselves, without being able to see ourselves;
shadows of our neighbors, without being able to see our neighbors;
shadows of reality, without being able to see reality.
Buddhism says that we live in ignorance, and our goal is to become enlightened.
Islam says that we live in forgetfulness, and our goal is to remember who we are and to whom we belong.
And Jesus commands us to remain wakeful, so that we can see God among us. (Matthew 25:13).
“If your eye is healthy,” Jesus teaches, “your whole body will be full of light” (Luke 11:34).
But so often we arrange our lives to be lived like mules with blinders on: undistracted from our work, our routines. Undistracted by reality. Undistracted by God.
Why do we do this? Why do we cut ourselves off from the beauty… the power… the reality in which we actually live? Religions struggle to find the answer to that question.
Traditional Christianity would say its sin that blinds us- but what causes sin? Are we born with it? Are we nurtured within its blindness? Some Christians would say that living in sin will send us to eternal hell, but I don’t think that’s right. I think that sin… blindness… ignorance… forgetfulness… causes us to live in dim and fearful existence, because are not aware of the divine which surrounds us. “O God! Give us eyes to see!”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote. “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God;
But only he (sic) who sees takes off his (sic) shoes. The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” (“Aurora Leigh”, Book 7, line 820)
Dear friends, can you remember a time, a moment, where you felt you really saw the world as God has created it? When you felt like you could sense the presence of the divine?
Is there a moment, a memory that comes to you?
That moment just before the sun went beneath the horizon?
The northern sky when the Milky Way blazed like diamonds?
That moment when she took your hand and said you meant the world to her?
In philosophy, I was taught that there are two kinds of time. There is Chronos: chronological time. It’s how we order our days: wake up at 6… at work by 9… pick up the kids at 5… dinner at 6… bed by 9. Monday through Friday, followed by the weekend chores. The linear ordering of our days. That’s Chronos- chronological time.
But there is another kind of time, the kind of time that gives meaning to our lives. It’s called Kairos time. Kairos time is our experience of turning points, of opportunities and insight.
The time you saw your father cry. The time you held your newborn child.
The time you really understood how much your grandmother loved you.
Chronological time plods forward, with no sense of overall significance.
Kairos time is when we change, deep within ourselves, and are transformed.
Kairos time is what gives us life, and hope, and the sense of God in our lives.
Is there a time in your life, dear friends, where you felt changed? When you became, in some sense, a different person, set upon a different life course? Does something come to mind?
To become aware is to become alive to the experience that in God, we live and move and have our being. To open our eyes to the common bush aflame with God, and know that this, this is reality. And we have always belonged.
O God, open our eyes, and give us the gift of being aware– awake– alive to you.
In the name of the One who has always held us, and will never let us go, even Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Resource: Richard Rohr, Center for Contemplation, Mature Spirituality, Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Scripture for Dec. 1, 2019 Reader: Mike Ball
Paul stood in the great marketplace of Athens and said, “Athenians! The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is God served by human hands as though God needed anything. No! God is the one who gives life and breath and all blessings to creation. From one ancestor, God made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and gave them the days and boundaries of their existence, so that they would search for God… and perhaps even find God. For as your own poets have said, “In God we live and move and have our being, for we too are God’s offspring.”
Friends, listen to what the Spirit would say to us today.