What does God see? Is God looking at you kid?
Seeing separation and change from a bigger perspective Humphrey Bogart delivers the line "here’s looking at you kid" like no other. Lately I have found myself feeling like I have been looking out at the world through a bubble, observing separation, change and wondering about God's window.
From my bubble I have sought connection and am adapting to physical separation in new ways. Zoom prayer on Thursday mornings with our Sisters around the globe has been one highlight. Many acts of kindness such as staying in the light and sharing grief through yellow hearts has united us. We can connect our current climate liturgically this past weekend, perhaps seeing that Ascension Sunday is really when Jesus started to work from home!
Seriously though, this month's illustration has come through interactions, listening and contemplative prayer. In my ministry (MSJ Milperra) we have gradually been easing students back into face-to-face learning. Discovering a new ‘normal’ with wipes, sanitiser and physical distancing. From listening to our community I’m hearing that there is apprehension, curiosity and uncertainty as we look out into a new world. Having traveled through Laudato Si week this past month I have been reminded that the window / view of our creator God is much much bigger than I can see or imagine. As we move into Pentecost this weekend and then into ordinary time, I am further reminded that our God never leaves us. The tears that come through grief, the joy that comes through an embrace… the spirit is with us, everything is gift. The psalms give many reminders that throughout the ages in times of plague, war, famine, and uncertainty, God is always with us, always watching us, always saying to us "here’s looking at you kid."
As we now look out our windows into the unknown, I pray to remember to give the gift of time, to wait, to know that our God is one who is watching us always, a frame within a window frame... bigger than we can imagine, plans beyond ours… longing to touch us, longing for us to gaze back with open hearts.
I hope that this month's image and the links in this month’s News Flash also connect us with our God who is all, in all and loves all.
Prayers of connection, hope & patience
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Pslam 139 (The Inclusive Bible translation)
1 YHWH, you’ve searched me,
and you know me.
2 You know if I am standing or sitting,
you read my thoughts from far away.
3 Whether I walk or lie down, you are watching;
you are intimate with all of my ways.
4 A word is not even on my tongue, YHWH,
before you know what it is:
5 you hem me in, before and behind,
shielding me with your hand.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
a height my mind cannot reach!
7 Where could I run from your Spirit?
Where could I flee from your presence?
8 If I go to the heavens, you’re there;
if i make my bed in Death, you’re already there.
9 I could fly away with my wings made of dawn,
or make my home on the far side of the sea,
10 but even there your hand will guide me,
your mighty hand holding me fast.
11 If I say, “The darkness will hide me,
and night will be my only light,”
12 even darkness won’t be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day --
darkness and the light are the same to you.
13 You created my inmost being
and stitched me together in my mothers’s womb.
14 For all these mysteries I thank you --
for the wonder of myself,
for the wonder of the works —
my soul knows it well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
while I was being made in that secret place,
knitted together in the depths of the earth;
16 your eyes saw my body even there.
All of the days
were written in your book,
all of them planned
before even the first of them came to be.
17 How precious your through are to me, O God!
How impossible to number them!
18 I could no more count them
than I could count the sand.
But suppose I could?
You would still be with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy those degenerates!
If only these reprobates would leave me alone!
20 They talk blasphemously about you;
your enemies treat you as if you were nothing.
21 Don’t I hate those you hate you, YHWH?
Don’t I loathe those you defy you?
22 I hate them with a total hatred,
and regard them as my own enemies!
23 Examine me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts —
24 see if there is as misdeed within me,
and guide m in the way that is eternal.
Watch a 30 second time lapse video below. This video shows the illustration coming together.
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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This month's email features:
> New list of Spiritual Nourishment resources that I have created for Covid-19 and beyond <
> Discover a new Video Series I have been working on <
> Move over Any Warhol, meet Sr Corita Kent and more...
View this month's News Flash: April 2020 #10
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Jane Maisey rsj