One of the dangers of working in a Jesuit environment is that certain buzzwords are tossed around with great frequency: AMDG, men for others, God in all things, etc. I am enough of a ritualist to see value in using the terms even when our mouths are moving more than our hearts. I am still bowled over when I hear the witness of others regarding where they find God. It’s not always where I’d expect. And it is good.
There’s nothing wrong with going looking for divinity where we expect to find it. My worry is that we put God in a box shaped like our presuppositions, forming an image of holy hypotheticals and deciding that is God. What’s beautiful to me is when we look around us at all of creation, proclaimed good when created, and allow our images of God to expand as we take in all the evidence.
When I was doing the nineteenth annotation of the Spiritual Exercises a few years ago, in a meeting with my director I was asked about the relationship between my singing and prayer. I immediately felt my hackles rise: when I heard people say “Singing is like prayer to me!” it sounded to my shamefully judgmental ears either insipid or as code for “I’m not a very good singer”. When I sing, my eyes don’t roll back in my head with bliss. Singing is work a lot of the time. I said all those things in response to my spiritual director.
Then I burst into tears.
When I do something at which I am good I am smacked in the face by the blessings of God. I am humbled, knowing there is nothing I could ever have done to have deserved my gifts, knowing that I can never repay them. Knowing this often moves me to tears. I was created me, of all the other things that I could be. Of course this is prayer – how could I have been so foolish to think it was not? How could I have missed the grace there?
The inscrutable will of God bombards me with goodness and my challenge is to recognize it. I’m not naive. I know that goodness has competitors in selfishness, indifference, and true evil. I don’t know why they are there, I don’t always know how to find God in them, but I believe that they are ultimately conquerable and are not what we are made for.
At the risk of not adequately acknowledging the wonder of divinity, I will state that sometimes God is ‘just there’, everywhere and always. Rather than putting of the search for God until I have time to do it properly, I have decided just to live. If I pay attention, I will see holiness in the world around me. May no day go by in which I don’t find holiness in more and more.