Twenty years ago, I spent a few years doing mission work for the Church. It was a time of great formation for me in my faith and I learned a million things about myself, my faith, and my God. It was like perpetually living a “retreat high” every day of those two years. I saw God everywhere. In my teammates, in the students we ministered to, in the mountains of Wyoming, in the families who fed us bountiful meals and let us use their washing machines. Nothing before or since compares to the way life was lived in those moments. The gospel was alive in every way for me.
Two decades later I look back and long for the Holy Spirit to feel so near. Because there are more days now that I wonder, “Where is God, today?” I’m deep enough into my faith to know it isn’t about “feelings.” That faith is so much more than the butterflies I first felt when God whispered to me in my youth. But man, it sure would help when I’m knee deep in emails, carpools, and grocery lists to feel God next to me, reminding me that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Without those feelings, it’s easy to blow in the wind, letting it take us wherever it goes. Sometimes, we can let it take us so far that it’s hard to see where we started. Because, brothers and sisters, God doesn’t move. He is a constant. And Jesus is too, sitting at His right hand. So while the Holy Spirit meets us where we are… if we have wandered far, it might not “feel” as though He is close. We can be blown in the direction of addiction, or apathy, or into thinking our worth is wrapped up in something we “do” or “have” or “achieve.” But we KNOW, we must KNOW, that our worth is really in being a son or daughter of a God who is faithful, no matter our feelings.
My daughter loves to play hide-and-seek. She’s six and while she has many wonderful qualities, understanding the game of hide-and-seek is not one of them. Zola tends to hide in the most obvious of spaces. Like, literally, out in the open. And because I’m a (pretty) good mom, I look in all the places she is not first, and then go back to where she has been the whole time and say, “Found You!” At that, Zola breaks into the biggest grin. She belly laughs and hugs me and in that moment, nothing else matters but our joy. I can’t help but think it’s so much the same with God. He is never hiding where I cannot find him, never in a place out of reach. He plays hide-and-seek like a child does- out in the openness of the world, you can’t step in any direction without running into him. But I still play like myself. I seek Him in places He isn’t. In my selfishness, in my gossip, in my despair.
Instead, I need to seek Him throughout my day. In all the obvious places. In the first sip of coffee. In the folding of the laundry. In the hustle and chaos of getting three kids out the door to school and myself to work. And while I am hesitant to admit it, He is there with my co-worker who I really, really have a difficult time loving. And in so many of the news stories I read. The ones that capture the brokenness of this world. The darkest parts of humanity.
So where is God, today? For me, He’s in writing this piece. He’s around my husband who has a mountain of stress on his heart. My girls. My oldest with the deep sense of social justice. The middle one with the stubborn streak. The youngest with her silliness. He is in my kitchen while we prepare a hurried breakfast. And then again at dinner. At the grocery store in the people stocking the shelves. In the mail lady who always smiles and waves when she passes. In the snowfall that comes with living in the Midwest. He’s in the big and the small. Years ago, I had a lot of mountain top experiences and felt his presence more acutely. But now, with some distance from that time, I can see that the entire mountain is created by a God who desires to be found not only in the tabernacle or at Mass, but also in the homes and hearts of every one of His children. He longs to be welcomed into my To-Do list and my mundane, daily routines. He isn’t just God when we are fully immersed in worship. He is there, right now, within you and next to you and above you and never out of reach, and He longs for us to say, “Found You!”