Where in the world is God? Is God only over there, here, or everywhere?
I have been hearing these questions through many people lately - honestly, my face is a wee bit sore from striking the confusion pose! In prayer I have been trying to listen to where God is at this time. Spoiler alert, I don't have the answers. But, I do get a sense that God has always been present and always will be. We only need to look at the Old Testament to see that things don't always go in a straight line. At this time, I'm simply trusting with patience, waiting, living "in remembrance" of our ever present God who "is all, and in all". Perhaps with this weekend's Gospel in mind, the challenge of faith is to seek and patiently find God in our journey, wherever that journey may take us?
There is one quote that has also been sticking with me from our Mary MacKillop ("there where you are you will find God"). So, when my parish priest asked me to create an illustration around this particular quote, I trusted, prayed and inspiration struck. I wondered where Mary would be today, I could see her leaning up against the doorway, helping at a food bank, or perhaps restricted like us, only able to go to the supermarket for essentials. I hope this illustration reminds us of Gods presence here, there and everywhere. Certainly through the ups and the downs, never in a straight line, and especially with us when we are trying to find toilet paper or hand sanitiser at the supermarket!
As Julian of Norwich also reminds us: “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. God is the ground, the substance, the teaching, the teacher, the purpose, and the reward for which every soul labours.”
I have also created a new Resources tab at the top of this webpage. There you will also find a 'Colouring In' page with some free high resolution downloads of this illustration and others. Great to use for prayer / mediation (individually or for parish or school). Be sure to watch the 30 second time-lapse below for a bit of fun too.
May we always remember that here, there, everywhere - we are forever blessed.
Further Articles for reflection:
Patience with God - Ronald Rolheiser OMI
Where is God in the agony of coronavirus? - Sr Christine Schenk
Where is God in a Pandemic? - James Martin SJ
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Check out this month's News Flash: May 2020 - #11
This lent has certainly been a whopper like no other. Through listening i'm hearing that children are frightened, adults are stressed, plans are out the window. It seems that we are trying to wrap our heads around what's happening in the world without loosing the plot completely. Sure, with uncertainty we can understand that fear is driving panic buying behaviour. It’s scary; many of us feel like sporadically crying while we sit on the back porch in our PJ’s thinking, 'how did this happen?' Honestly, now more than ever I really do feel like I’m the living embodiment of Manuel from Faulty Towers - I hear myself say to God... "Que?"
This month’s artwork is a rendition of the Last Supper (Luke 22), and is paired with what Jesus teaches us in Matthews Gospel about fear, worry, uncertainty and planning: “… Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. … So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Read the full passage - Matt 6:25-34)
In the midst of chaos I'm finding that turning to God and listening has reminded me of these two passages. I’ve always experienced a sense of God in nature, and especially so in birds. Last year around Easter I created just the outlines for this month’s painting. I hope that this now painted image may remind us to unite in heart, to not worry, to remember that we are not alone. Birds fly off for a time, but they eventually come back together when the time is right, they share their resources and grow together.
Even-though there is fear in the air I have also been hearing and seeing explosions of creativity, charity, and kindness really is starting to shine through. Richard Rohr reminds us to choose love and not fear: “We’re not pushing the panic button; we are the panic button. And we have to allow these feelings, and invite God’s presence to hold and sustain us in a time of collective prayer and lament.”
Chris Middleton SJ seems to sum where to go from here rather well too: "The challenge then, is to find ways to maintain communication and connection, to be creative and to be stimulating, to maintain perspective and a sense of humour and to look to ways to be generous, thus taking care of self and others."
So, moving forward I'm rolling with the new commandment Jesus also gifted us at the last supper (John 13: 34 - 35): “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” As always, I don’t have answers, I can only listen and try to act with loving kindness. I hope this image connects, and as we move into Easter I leave you with snippets of wisdom from a letter our St Mary MacKillop wrote to Sisters for Easter 1890:
"... May this Easter time find us all so united. It is the greatest blessing I can wish my dearest children.
... My own dear Sisters, wherever you are, may Easter bring you happiness. May it find you in the sweet love of God, united and happy. I don’t wish that any of us should shrink from our crosses - we should rather in the spirit of our vocation dearly love such; but then we should bear them cheerfully.
... Remember now, goodbye to for ever to all old scores, and for the future let us live and love in the charity of the Sacred Heart.”
~ Jane (aka Manuel)
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View this month's News Flash: April 2020 #10
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Jane Maisey rsj