IT HAS COME UP so many times in recent days, a nugget trying hard to make its way from passing thought to consciousness to heart. It’s looking for a home, that’s what I think, a permanent spot to stay a while, hang out a shingle. And so I have come to understand the little guy will knock knock knock until I open the door, welcoming it in with open arms.
First there was an Ann Voscamp comment that passed through my feed during December. I don’t follow Ann so it was a random retweet of a retweet of a tweet that landed the darn thing in my lap in the first place. There were struggles that day–as there always are during Advent–and I was in a Question God mode. Joy and harmony of the season? They didn’t seem to be manifesting in my holiday, no matter how much work I did to perfect every detail. Instead it felt as if I were peeking out from behind a big pile of chaos and confusion, the case for disappointment building day by day.
And then it came, this tweet, and lay there until I picked it up rather begrudgingly.
There is so much expectation at Christmas, this I recognized, our eyes on the manger, our ears awaiting the herald of angel choruses. There is so much anticipation of joy to be delivered to those who prepare well. (Can I get an Amen, sistas?)
Have you been listening to Krista? he asked, my friend Michael, a man who doesn’t pass along recommendations lightly.You gotta check out Martin Sheen. Then he shook his head yes in a most convincing way and I knew that particular episode of the podcast On Being would be my Next Up.
I was enraptured with the interview from the beginning. A “deep and joyful Catholic,” I merely needed hear the actor’s beautiful, soulful laugh to be moved. Then Sheen began to talk about love, and the search for God, and finding God in the place you’re least likely to look.
The love that I longed for, and I think all of us really long for, is knowing that we are loved. A knowingness about our being that unites us to all of humanity, to all of the universe. That despite ourselves, we are loved. And when you realize that, and you embrace that, you begin to look at everyone else and you can see very clearly who in your vision knows they’re loved and who does not. And that makes all the difference. And I began to give thanks and praise for that love. You know how, so often, people say they go on this journey — and I said it, too — that “I’m looking for God.” But God has already found us, really. We have to look in the spot where we’re least likely to look, and that is within ourselves. And when we find that love, that presence, deep within our own personal being — and it’s not something that you can earn, or something that you can work towards. It’s just a realization of being human, of being alive, of being conscious. And that love is overwhelming.
God within, God where you least expect Him, God in the darkness. God eternal.
God of grace.