Recently a friend shared with me the words from a poem she'd seen that was composed as a letter from God: "I made you a little more lonesome than you would like to be, only because I wanted you to turn to me in your loneliness, only because I need for you to learn to love me and to depend only on me."
This reminded me how much our Lord loves us and wants us to be close, as God is always close to us. We know God is close to us, always with us, as we say it over and over to others in times of pain and distress, but the powerfulness of that reality does not always hit us. We may look for God in church or in the beauty of nature, but we can also find our Lord in the car during rush hour traffic or at 2am when we're working feverishly to finish up that paper before the deadline. God is always with us.
And not only is God with us, but God is rooting for us. God wants us close and wants us to succeed. Just as a performer thrives on an audience, so do we thrive in the light of our Lord's loving gaze. I am reminded of a strange scene before hurricane Sandy hit New York City: I am an avid Late Night with Jimmy Fallon fan (I record it! I could never stay up that late!), but it was almost painful to watch him perform his show in front of empty seats the night before the hurricane. It is the same for us. We cannot shine as we ought without knowing we have the audience of our Lord.
Now, let's not get down on ourselves for forgetting our Lord is close- it's near impossible to remember and live in God's presence due to our fallen nature. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Especially during this Lenten season, we must remind ourselves of God's nearness. I recently listened to CD that a friend had told me about that expounded upon this idea of God's eternal presence and our need to remember and spend time with our Lord. The CD was a workshop given by a Carmelite nun who provided numerous ways for us to keep God in mind. She talked about a priest who, whenever he had an encounter with a person that evoked an emotion, whether it be joy, sorrow or frustration, would say "Welcome, Jesus". This was a simple way to remember that our Lord was there in that person, calling him to love, regardless if it would be easy or difficult to love.
This sisters also pointed out something beautiful in the Bible about God's presence. She talked about how God says "I am with you" or "I will be with you" dozens of times in the Old Testament. This in itself is comforting. Our Creator loves us so much that a promise is made to never leave us. However, she also said that these phrases are not mentioned, save for one time, in the New Testament. This may seem disheartening initially - has our Lord abandoned us? Not so! God feels no need to remind us of this nearness as God is physically with us, in flesh and blood, as Jesus. What a gift!
I pray we remember this gift at every opportunity, especially as we grow closer to our Lord's Passion. And I thank God for being with me now, and with you as well, until the end of days. Amen!
-submitted by Sarah Deak, SPO volunteer