During my younger years, I learned about Jesus and God. Baptised and confirmed at an early age, I attended religion and bible history classes, bazaars to raise money for the poor and Church on Sundays. As an adult, I studied the bible with like-minded friends, read the prayers and the scripture at church services and taught Sunday School. Over the years, I picked up a lot of information about Jesus and God. Then one day, while driving home from work, I wondered if it were possible to actually know God and Jesus in the same way as I knew my best friend. Thus began my quest to meet God and Jesus in the realities of living day to day.
I began looking for God around me, to begin noticing when something would occur that was not explainable, had just happened, and was good, just the way it needed to be. Like someone stopping at a stop sign and getting out of the car to assist an elderly person crossing the street, or a friend becoming well after a long illness and great suffering. By asking the questions, “Where is God?” “What is God doing?” as I went about my routines focused me to look for the Divine in my life day-to-day. I then began talking about these moments naming them as the presence of God in my daily reality. This is of course is easy in the times of joy and bliss, an obvious time for God to be present. The challenge was and still is in trusting that God is present eternally in the times of doubt, depression, anxiety, conflict or failure too! I try to remind myself that God is present in moments I gladly choose and in moments I would never choose! I have come to know that as I study the scriptures I meet God there each time I imagine myself in the scenes of the stories interacting with Jesus and the people and, like interacting with a good friend, I learn more about myself and about how God is working in my life.
Richard Rhor reminds us that “we cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.”* God can be found in all things, as we see in this portion of Psalm 139 God is continually calling us to be present with him.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.9 If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
A prayer known as the Daily Examen is from Saint Ignatius and is one of his spiritual exercises. It is a prayer guide for a daily review and it brings us into relationship meeting with God as a friend, giving thanks for all the good moments in the day, asking God to show us where we may have fallen short and saying we are sorry. The prayer ends by asking God if there was something we didn’t hear in the day and asking God to promise to be with us tomorrow. Here is a daily examen given to me by a friend.
A Simple Awareness Examen
Yes, here I am Lord, to have a few minutes’ quiet time with you. It is good to be here and to think a bit about my day. Thanks for all the day has been and for all your gifts. These are the moments that come to mind when I think about saying ‘thank you’…
I’m sorry – for the moments of selfishness and unkindness and any other times when I did not manage to be your hands, Jesus, – your feet, your eyes, your love, your compassion for the people around me. Please give me a nudge if there was something you were trying to tell me today, when I wasn’t paying attention! And promise you’ll be with me all through tomorrow, too. Amen.
From: Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ)
*David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself p.41