“The presence of God means a lively, attentive realization of His presence-God is everywhere, in all places, in all things, in all people”- St. Teresa of Avila
Some time ago, I lived in a house of formation with the Carmelite sisters where I learned one of the most essential principles of human flourishing. It all began on an ordinary weekday. At that time, I was overly energetic about reaching the height of perfection that St. Teresa of Avila would often talk about. A zeal for change and renewal in every corner of my life was constantly on my mind. It was what preoccupied my time most days. This particular day, while engrossed in these thoughts, I gathered my sheets for washing and thought I would stop by the wash room to give them a good cleansing treatment before throwing them into the washer.
I started down the hall toward the laundry room and found myself, again, preoccupied with many thoughts of future and past events, with what I will do later that day and what I could have done earlier in the day. I arrived and put down my basket, and as I was removing the sheets from it, the sister overseeing my formation walked in to treat a stain on her habit. She stood beside me and said “hello”. I proceeded to tell her my many plans and aspirations. She listened attentively giving encouraging nods and “yes”s, but when I finished she said, “stop what you’re doing”, surprised at her request, I put my sheet down and stepped away from the faucet. “listen” she said, I stood there listening for someones voice or a bell which was commonly heard throughout the day, but could not hear a thing. She continued, “do you hear that?”, I said in reply “no, what is it?”. Without saying another word she stood there. A few moments passed and then I heard it . . . drop, drop, drop . . . it was a small water leak coming from the tub in the next room. Surely that wasn’t what she wanted me to listen for, “is it the water leak?” I asked, she replied “yes”.
Our reflection of what was and will be is beautiful, it helps us see and understand God’s workings in our life. We are supposed to desire to do more for Him, yes; but more important than this, we have to learn to listen for him; receive him in the present moment, in the now. How is he calling you now? The fullness of our human flourishing is embracing the now, the present moment as God allows it to unfold. Charity can be manifested through great works and realizations of our hearts desires but more often than not, we find it in the everyday, mundane, occurrences of life. If we walk through life thinking and reflecting on what could be, we will miss the opportunity of what is. We will miss Jesus walking beside us in the ordinary steps of our routine, in our daily yes’ to duties entrusted to us.
Tightening a faucet knob, looking a sister in the eyes when passing by her in the corridor, holding the door for an elderly sister, staying to help a sister finish washing dishes instead of arriving early to prayers, disposing myself as a gift at any given moment; these were the moments Jesus wanted to encounter me in and build the foundation of charity on. But as it turned out I found myself seeking him, too often, in the extraordinary. Being present to God allows us to be present to others. We become seekers of his will perpetually if we open our eyes to the NOW.
“The closer one approaches to God the simpler one becomes”- St. Therese.
For the rest of that week I pondered what that meant for me, all the mean while performing my daily, ordinary duties with open eyes and an open heart. And I realized that she was right, soooo much was unfolding before me, daily activities suddenly became encounters with Jesus.
People, places, and things are often what reflect the face and voice of Jesus in our lives. All we need to do is walk with open eyes and an open heart.