As most of you know from my writings, I am not one to adhere to closely to the Liturgical Calendar for referencing my submissions. If I did, we would know that today- November 24, 2013- is the last Sunday of the year. The following Sunday begins Advent- the joyous expectation and anticipation of the coming of the Christ child and the new year to follow. This Sunday is also referred sometimes as, the Sunday of Christ the King. When we can be called to reflect on the past year and what differences and changes can be made in the upcoming year.
Always a procrastinator, I wait until the last-minute to do things. This is comically reflected in my always selecting the last Sunday of the month to write my submission to our Father General. This was even more true this time around, when personal issues on the home front distracted me. Minor as they are (were), they always seem at the moment to be pressing and overwhelming. Though I was a police sergeant for nearly thirty years and well-drilled to handle anything, when something unexpected happens at home- I too, can become a “drama queen”.
Needless to say, there comes a moment in all the unexpected when I must pause. I begin to take stock of myself in the situation and question myself in others. In hurried moments like this, I find myself wondering if I have taken the time to be a good priest? A good Christian? Especially now, as I have undertaken a temporary full-time assignment at my “per diem retired” job. There seems to be so much going on. So many errands to run and things to catch up on. My time seems all to suddenly, limited. Things that need to be done, or at least things I thought were important, begin to back up. Returning to my police roots, I prioritize or at least, try too.
In all of these presumedly pressing personal matters, I now add my clerical obligations into the mix. Mass to pray, letters to write, visitations to make, a wedding to work on, a meeting to schedule, and the humble honor of to providing a soul with his Last Sacramental Rites. Hereto, I question myself- did I pray enough? Was I meditative and reflective? Was scripture read? In short- in the fast pace of my life, did I give to God- the Creator of my life, “his time”?
Then the Spirit spoke to me, in the liturgical calendar I seldom, if ever refer, to. For listed as a consideration for today, the last Sunday of the Liturgical year- was my most favorite Biblical line ever- “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) I smile to myself. How well my Lord knows me. Reassures me. Embraces me. Forgives me.
For no matter how complicated our lives or how hectic the world seems to be, there is always- always, the silent wonder of the world and the presence and reassurance that our Lord is with us. A beautiful sunset or the soft glow of sunrise. The sound and sight of Canadian geese as they begin their winter journey south. The wind as it dances amongst the blaze of autumn leaves that applaud in rustling. The thunder of the waves upon a beach, now empty of its summer throng. The laugh of a seagull. The laugh of a child. The sight of the puppy that makes the child laugh or the sight of my loved one who makes me happy.
There are many- many, daily things- everday things, where God reminds us. God is present. In the beauty, wonder and majesty of His creation. In the music of life and nature that draws us from our distractions back to God. God is present. In the company and love of family and friends. We should become like Job, finding God not in the spectacular but in the simple. God is present. In the smile of a stranger. In the tone of Taps at a solider’s funeral or in the refrain of a church bell above the traffic. God is present. In the hymn raised up in loud adoration or in the hushed whispers between lovers. In the bark of an excited dog at the sight of its owner or in the mournful cry of a hawk as it circles overhead. God is present. In the babbling of a brook or the song of a bird. In the tranquil drumbeat of a steady rain. In the beauty of a winter’s night snowfall where it seems the stars themselves are falling from the sky. In all these things- and in everything, God is present.
So when we find ourselves overwhelmed- overworked, we need to pause. When we question whether we have prayed or been good Christians, we need to pause. When life and the world just seem to have got the better of us, we need to pause. God is present. Not distant or unforgotten, but here now with us- always. We should be mindful. God is present. To remember this, we should do as God suggests- “Be still, and know that I am God.”
“For in Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible… all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17) Surprisingly, also a scriptural reading from our liturgical lectionary for today. Two in one of my writings. The Spirit is indeed at work. But of course! God is present! A joyous and blessed Advent season to you all!