"...our task as humans is to remember that God exists and that God is present in the course of daily living. This means that, since Christians know that God exists and that God is forever present to them, they must bring the remembrance of that reality to bear in every moment."
--Richard Valantasis, from "Centuries of Holiness: Ancient Spirituality Refracted for a Postmodern Age"
A few days ago, I was driving home from work right after some rain, and was treated to a double rainbow. I got a good chuckle arranging setting up this photo so that the rainbow looked like it ended at my house. Of course, as a kid, I was always told there was a pot of gold and some leprechauns at the end of the rainbow. These days, I'd say my peaceful little parcel of pasture land is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. How many times do we look elsewhere for happiness and it's right in front of our noses, all along?
The passage above refers to a similar shift in attitude. One of the ways spiritual growth occurs is when we begin to find God in the ordinary, the mundane, and in the things we once thought were common and uninteresting.
It's daunting to start thinking of the possibility that the memory of God resides in everything, and that God is present with us in every moment. My immediate response was one of those junior high-mentality notions--of God watching me in the john. But, really, it's a perfect example. One of the miracles of "us" is that we take food and our gastrointestinal tract turns it into nutrients that our body absorbs. So the removal of the waste of that, the "chaff" of the things we eat, so to speak, is part of that biological miracle. In that light, it makes perfect sense that God is also just as present in the end of that process, as the beginning or the middle. It changes my attitude, to some degree, in terms of my eating in a healthy fashion. When I think about digestion being a miracle, it makes me want to contribute to that in a "good" way, by eating things that are better for me, health-wise.
Considering "the memory of God in all things" also reaches in and comforts one of my personal bugaboos--the sense of abandonment. I have always had to struggle, for whatever reason, with "fear of abandonment" issues. I have often self-separated to avoid feeling like I was being abandoned. I often deluded myself that, if I was the one doing the walking away, I had control of the situation. I even walked away from God for 20 plus years to feed that delusion. I spent two decades of my life engaging God only on "my terms," thinking I was controlling my relationship with God. I have come to believe God found this a great source of amusement; God was there all along.
Again, this makes sense. It's not much of a supreme being who would abandon me when I've been unintentionally walking around with a shart stain on my underwear. A God who faints at the sight of my own blood, or runs screaming from the room when I've vomited, isn't much use to anyone. I don't care to have a relationship with a divine being who takes a powder every time I've cussed someone out in anger. But this knowledge also forces me to consider that God also is present in the lives of some people I consider, for the most part, "evil." To begin to have compassion for abusers and perpetrators of bad things--to consider they have had something go wrong in their lives that caused them to succumb to their own broken-ness, or were simply "just not wired right" at birth--is new for me, and frankly, it's hard. But my own sense of "God beside me, in all things, at all times," demands it.
The other big revelation is that this memory presents itself beyond any of our attempts to control or suppress it. I thought about how in our parish, we don't do flowers in the sanctuary in Lent. (In fact, the thought conjures up the memory of my late friend Debby, the undisputed Queen of the Altar Guild," and her unmistakable voice in my ear, going, "We don't do flowers in Lent.") We do that as an outward sign of our respect for the preparatory parts of Easter, and to consider what our lives would be like without Christ in the world. We do it to preserve The Memory of God in our minds in a certain way.
But all I have to do is step outside, and see how badly God laughs in my face at that one. Before my eyes, my yard, day by day, is transforming into a world of bright, bold seasonal color--emerald green grass, yellow forsythia bushes, purple grape hyacinths--and that's just the start. Soon will be irises of many colors, purple lilacs, candy-cotton pink redbud trees, and white dogwoods, blue and white bird's foot violets, and pink dutchman's breeches.
God certainly does flowers in Lent, even if we don't.
God's memory is preserved whether we want it to or not. It's simply not our choice that does it nor can any human control suppress it. In that, to choose to go along for the ride is way easier!