One of the leaders of the small group I attend at church asks us every week if we had any 'god sightings'. This struck me teh first time I heard it because I had never heard the expression before. He explained these were times where we saw glimpses of God's presence around us, whether playing a part in an uncanny event, bringing grace/kindness to an interaction or surprising us in some other miraculous way.
For a skeptic, this (along with many other notions around faith) must seem a bit ludicrious. It all boils down to your underlying assumption: Is God there or is he not? If you assume that he is (as I do), then it makes sense to look for him in your day to day, to watch for him. Kind of like Einstein's quote: "There are two ways to see the world- one is as if nothing is a miracle, the other as if everything is." For me I work under the assumption that God is in fact the color to our world, the energy in and behind everything. I assume that the experiences of awe and wonder and appreciation for beauty are usually good clues to his presence. The experience of love or loving (not infatuation, happiness, etc. but selfless love for something or someone- an appreciation that makes you feel as if you are vibrating at a higher frequency) is a good clue God is in the air as well. And sometimes I experience being more attuned to god than other times. Im comfortable with the notion of him appearing in my life through others and events- though it is rarely a bang! boom! pow! sort of encounter.
This sunday however was different. This Sunday I had a vivid, striking, slightly uncomfortable 'God Sighting'. Felt like walking out of a cave or seeing the color blue for the first time in 6 months.
Sunday was a Sunny, Windy day. My favorite type of weather, especially in the fall. John left to go up north and I threw on some clothes for church. I was driving to the service at the Urban Refuge, and 2 blocks away from my house I got this uneasy, resistant feeling. "don't go" crossed my thoughts. I tried to shake it- reasoning not feeling like going to church was not a good reason not to. Plus, I rationalized, I love going to church... But I couldn't shake the notion and a block later I turned around and drove around the block a couple times- thinking furiously and slightly befuddled at this unexpected intuition. I pulled over to the side of the road, took a deep breath, gave in and went home. I sat in front of my house in my car- 'now what?' Should I clean? Go for a walk? hmph...
I noticed the beauty of the fall day, the red and yellow trees glittering in the wind, the sunshine warming everything. The air was fresh, vibrant, sharp. I then focused on the church next to my house, a brick lutheran church with an old fashioned billboard out front announcing service times. I noticed the services for the day were over- and I had not been inside the church so I was drawn to go in. I walked in the front doors- unlocked, and easily found my way to the sanctuary. A usher gave me permission to go sit in the sanctuary- so I entered into the sunlit, glowing room of stain glass and dark wood. I went and sat in the front pew and just breathed and listened.
My thoughts quickly went from a torrent of rapids to a meandering current. I remembered a quote from the movie I had watched the night before "It is hard to fill a cup that is already full", and allowed my mind to empty and quiet. To let go of as many assumptions as possible. Peace, calm and solace washed through me. Sometimes when I pray the first question I voice in my head is "God where are you?" and then I allow myself to be open to experiencing him. That question wasn't necessary- as I was swimming in his midst- to me he was so obviously right there in front of me. The sanctuary was filled with the divine, he was in the fern leaves glowing in the morning sunlight. In the grains of wood on the pew in front of me. I was struck by magic, by orchestrated and wild beauty everywhere I looked. I experienced reverence, respect, wonder and joy.
I spent an hour in the church (though while there I lost track of time)- drinking in the divine. At one point someone came and sat in the back and played the guitar softly. The sunlight continued to flicker in the windows, highlighting the life in the room. As I sat I felt as if I was a cup being filled with clear, pure and life-giving water. And as I sat there silently and immobile- God and I danced. I experienced several unarticulated inspirations and take-aways- most of the experience was blissfully wordless. Perhaps the most important take-away being the reminder/hyperfocus on my calling to share the magic and the beauty of the world with others. To bring community and joy to everyone around me as much as possible. And the very present, potent conclusion of 'this is it'. This is our one life and it is to be lived out loud and relished with as much courage and grace as possible right now, and moment to moment onward.
Someone from the church had to come up and gently ask me to leave as they had to lock up the church. She asked me if I wanted to get coffee or needed anything- I always find it amusing that people assume something is wrong if you are sitting in a church alone. She asked me what brought me to the church and I stumbled over articulating something- what words do you say? I just felt randomly that I should skip church to come hang out here alone? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me much less to an observer. Yet it was such a perfect morning- it was exactly what I was supposed to do. So I felt compelled to share that very precious experience from this weekend. I feel so lucky to be where I am in life right now- and even better as the year ahead looms with joy, busy-ness, change and stress- to be in touch with the bigger picture. Who knows what else is to come...