Lately when I've been giving myself time and space for "unscripted" prayer, my mind has been reverting to thanksgiving. I find this surprising because I'm not in a particularly celebrative frame of mind; my days have consisted pretty much of working my way through duties and deadlines.
Then, the other night I was journaling to see what I could discover about this sense of gratitude. I asked myself what I was being thankful for, and I found myself writing this:
"for God – for being there; for being – when I pay little or no attention."
This entry rather stopped me in my tracks. (Even as I type it, I'm not sure how to punctuate it, as I'm still trying to get to its essential meaning.) Here was my subconscious telling me that I'm living with an enormous gift that I often take for granted.
After 75+ years living as a baptized Catholic and 55 years in a monastic community, I certainly should be aware that the presence of God is deeply engrained in my life. Now, here the deepest part of myself is confirming this belief, but at the same time reminding me that I need to give time to strengthening my awareness of the reality.
There certainly are moments when I'm very conscious of God's presence, whether times of frustration or joy. My journal entry, however, seems to be reminding me that I need to touch base with this Presence not just on occasion; I need to consciously delve into it. God is the "good neighbor" who lives not next door, but in my house. As God is my dwelling place, so I am God's! As the journal entry said, "God-for being there" whether I'm aware or not.
An even more profound part of that entry, however, reaches into the infinite. It gives thanks, not just for God's being some place, like within me, but just for BE-ing. How does one begin to give thanks to God for Being God? As the lyrics of the hymn The Path of Life say, "Without you there is nothing…"* We can't even begin without the power given us by the very One for whom we are grateful!
What can anyone do about this conundrum? Nothing but try to grasp that without God we have/are nothing (Ps. 16). Somehow we must develop our awareness that all is gift, and this task is made especially challenging by our self-sufficient, individuated, hurry-up society. I guess all we can do is pray:
God, as you live within me and in each person I meet, open my eyes and touch my heart that I may recognize you and give thanks. Help me bring to each day the effort that might make every encounter one that celebrates your presence. Help me to enrich our chaotic world with new awareness of you as endless Gift. Amen. Alleluia!
*(Scott Soper in Breaking Bread hymnal from Oregon Catholic Press)
Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB