I was riveted to my MacBook monitor earlier watching a Bishop Barron video from his travels around Italy and Spain working on his latest Pivotal Players installments. He was speaking about St. Ignatius of Loyola and his thoughts on finding God in the ordinary, in our every day experiences. Something as simple as looking at a map of Europe presented Bishop Barron with a grace for which he was tremendously grateful. In moments like that, we can remember how close God is to us, how we exist at all because He is constantly considering us; because of the love He has for each of us. Those insights can leave us breathless, maybe even a bit ‘choked up’ with tears within that experience of such a God. We are moved interiorly and that brings us even closer to our transcendent Creator.
For me, a realization of the immanence of God occurred while I was praying with my two little granddaughters a couple of nights ago. I had flown to their Army post to help as my daughter and her husband were preparing to receive their household goods after about a month and a half of living out of suitcases and driving across much of the country.
I offered my services, rather selfishly, actually, as I knew ‘helping’ would include many opportunities to spend time with my grandchildren. I decided to stay in a hotel the first few nights as the house was in total move-in disarray. And, though there is a guest room for visitors, I knew from 22 Army moves of my own that the sheets, pillows, and comforter would be in boxes for at least one day and maybe two or more. I also knew that there would be other unopened or half empty boxes in the guest room, making it difficult to maneuver between the bed and the door. I could also have my own bathroom for showers, etc., if I stayed in a hotel rather than sharing with the 3 little grands. I am happy to do that, but after a long day of unpacking, organizing, and trips to the store or wherever, it was nice to retreat to the quiet solitude of my hotel.
I did spend the last night before I flew in the family’s new home. The bed was made, all boxes were gone and I had told my daughter and son-in-law to go to the movies and out to dinner since they’d had very little alone grown up time since departing their last duty station at the beginning of June! That last evening the kids and I ate pizza, put on jammies early, and watched Mary Poppins Returns on Netflix. Then it was off to bed with them!
The night before that, my last night in the hotel, I asked if the two girls, 6 1/2 and 4 years old, could have a sleepover with me at my hotel. Their mom and dad said yes, much to the delight of all 3 of us! The youngest of the grandchildren is a little boy who is only two and he much prefers to sleep in his own crib and to have his mommy put him to bed. So, off the 3 of us went to my hotel. We stayed up a little later than the norm, as one does at a decent sleepover. And we ate a snack, too. When it was time to go to sleep no one argued, thankfully. And before goodnight kisses, I joined my darling granddaughters in their evening prayers.
They were so earnest, so serious, so reverent. That’s when I had my moment of grace, filled with such gratitude and moved to (slight) tears at the experience. I found God in the ordinary, bedtime prayers. But it was so much more as we prayed together in thanksgiving and supplication to our Lord. But the grace continued, as only a benevolent God can allow, extending time and filling our hearts with peace, as the girls took turns, without arguing about who should go first, singing songs of their own composition in strong, clear voices. Then I got to sing, although I sang a couple of Disney songs at their request. One was from Cinderella (A Dream Is a Wish) and one was from Sleeping Beauty (I Know You). The girls were silent and, though it was probably due to fatigue at that later than usual hour, I like to think they listened attentively and appreciatively.
Then they fell asleep. I remained there in awe and relished my moment of the immanence of God. He was with us all day long, I’ve no doubt, in the busyness of our day. But that evening, when we were still and peaceful, I experienced God’s presence in a profound and special way. What a gift for me. And I hope it was for the girls, too.
I will try to be more aware of God’s presence in the every day, the ordinary from now on, and to be grateful for Him being here, there, and everywhere. But I also plant to take the opportunity to commune with the Lord more often, to speak in praise, but also to listen. I also want to really see God around me. He is in all, He is always with us. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me recall that. And at other times, I will just sit in His presence and be. If we are ever mindful of God’s presence with us, it gets easier and easier to rest in Him.