This week I have been reading much on spirituality as articulated by the Jesuits. These folks have long been troublemakers in my spiritual journey. For one thing, their encouragement for spiritual travelers to think about what we believe opened the door to doubt.
In any case, as I have read their reflections on”finding God in all things”, I found myself at times annoyed because this emphasis is something of which I don’t like to be reminded. It is an essential component of most religions and is an aspect of Christianity that most would like to avoid.
I have no trouble finding God in the people I love. I have no trouble finding God along the trails of the Guadalupe Mountains or the back roads of Scotland and Ireland. I have no problem finding God in the many wounded warriors I see daily. No problem finding God there!
What I don’t like being reminded of is that I am also called to find God in the people, places and things I would rather avoid or punch out. I am called to find God in the hostile veteran who refers to me as “another f***ing shrink.” I am called to find God in the woman whose purse just tipped over, releasing a trail of ants onto my carpet. I am called to find God in the skyscrapers and strip mines. I am called to find God in the racists, the abusers, the money-changers. I am called to find God in EVERY PERSON I MEET!
Some years ago, my son Andy said to me “Dad, when Jesus calls the scribes and pharisees whitened sepulchers, is that like calling them sons of bitches?” I believe Andy was right and in that is an important aspect of finding God. I may need to find God in everyone I meet but that doesn’t mean I have to have warm fuzzy feelings for them. In other words, I may need to find God in everyone but I don’t have to like them! Finding God in everyone doesn’t mean that I make excuses for them or minimize that which I find upsetting. It does mean that I need to remind myself that, like me, they also are in need of healing. I need to somehow find a way to see that the God of my understanding loves them.
There is one great image that I can share about finding God in all things. There is a scene in the film Ben Hur when a Roman guard tells Jesus to stop giving Ben Hur some water. The guard makes a move toward Him and Jesus stands up. Something in Jesus’ face backs the guard off. Me being who I am, i always thought that look said something like “One more step and I’ll kick your ass!” My wife has a different take. She thinks the look on Jesus’ face said to the guard “I love you too.”
Finally, there is perhaps the greatest struggle — reminding myself that God can be found within me. Many of us struggle with self-judgment, disgust, and shame. Many of us may indeed be open to the idea that God can be found in others but hesitate to accept that God can also be found in each one of us.
So the challenge is there. To find God in all things. Including myself.
Reflection: What is your response to the charge in all religions to find God in all things?
Reading: This is the link to Igniting Our Values, the Jesuit site that has been annoying me this week: http://jesuits.org/story?TN=PROJECT-20140619032505
Viewing: Here is the excerpt from Ben Hur. A great example of the topic of finding God in all things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdiBrNnLfCE
I recently heard an interview of Richard Rohr by Oprah in which he said, “Perfection is a mathematical concept. Humans are inherently imperfect, and that’s what God loves.” Well, God may love imperfection I thought, but how about the person who is beyond imperfect and whose behavior and character are downright despicable? I struggle constantly with the notion (and the fact) that God loves Jeb Bush and Mitch McConnell and the mayor of London who installs spikes on park benches so that homeless people can’t sleep on them and the cops who tase children and the elderly for fun. My skin crawls as I say this, but I know that God loves the men who poach elephants and rhinoceros on the African plains. God even loves the rapist and the serial killer. I can’t wrap my mind around it, and on most days, I can’t begin to fathom it.
Carl Jung is the person who more than anyone in modern history has illumined the concept of evil and shown us that human beings are incomprehensibly complex. The divine is present in Charles Manson which is a concept I can barely take in. But what I really can’t fully take in is that there is a Charles Manson living in me and in every human being. However, when I remind myself of this, it is easier (never easy) to begin to comprehend that God is present in everyone and everything.
Hi Rich. Thank you for sharing that excerpt from Ben Hur. Jesus giving him water was always my favorite part of that movie. I hadn’t thought of it like that before but I agree with Pinzie that the only thing that could stop that guard was love. He was well equipped to handle defiance and fighting. Love disarms even the toughest souls. Here is a real life example of what that looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY8iWJ5h5aM By the grace of God, often I am able to see God in some of the most evil people and situations. . . but have difficulty finding God in myself. I have to remind me that God loves me too. Even me. I pray often for God to remove the baggage that is blocking His love from flowing through me to others. Then He sends helpers in to my life like you Rich. Reminders. God bless you my friend.
You are right in today’s article. I struggle to find God in people who have hurt me. There are times when I try only because I need God in my life and if I don’t try to follow his lead, I feel guilty. I will also continue to pray for guidance. Margie