Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What helps you recognize God?

Our question of the week at St. Joseph’s, in anticipation of this Sunday’s Gospel on the Presentation of the Lord, asks: What helps you recognize the presence of God in daily life? Is it prayer? Struggle? Being “tested?”

For myself, I often find it’s a combination of these things. When life is swimming along, it’s easy to express gratitude to God and to bask in warm feelings.

When the tides turn, I find my focus shifts more intensely to prayer and it tends to be more transformative.

One year in particular that stands out in my mind in 2001, when in the space of 12 months my dad passed away after a painful battle with lung cancer; 9/11 happened; and one of my daughter’s young friends suffered a devastating brain aneurysm. Everything in life seemed askew, from the immediate world of my family and community to the larger world stage.

Yet, it was in those difficult events that I started to see God’s presence in the things of daily life in a much different way: appreciating the grace-filled lifelong love of my parents for each other as my dad’s life was nearing its end, seeing the world rally in compassion for the victims and their families in the tragic events of 9/11; and witnessing how one young girl’s crisis could impact so many people and their faith in so many positive ways, large and small.

What are your struggles this day? How are you being tested?

Would you know Jesus if he were to come to you in the midst of your difficulties?

Give yourself the gift of some quiet time in prayer this week.

Spend time with people who have the wisdom of years and lifelong faith, like Simeon and Anna in this week’s Gospel (Luke 2:22-40).

And stay warm.

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