This post is based on Week Two of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.
Cards from my parents should come with a warning: “Proceed with caution.” It doesn’t matter the occasion—birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Halloween—the threat is always the same.
But my daughters haven’t yet internalized it.
“No!” I yell from across the room. The four-year-old, tearing into the envelope, doesn’t know what’s about to happen. All she’s thinking is: This is from Nonni and Grandpa; it must be good.
Swoosh! Like a deluge of summer rain, confetti spills onto the hardwood floors. Black bats, purple witches, orange pumpkins, sparkles and glitter—it’s quite the Halloween card.
And that seasonally appropriate confetti is now everywhere. Ground zero may have been the kitchen, but somehow, I’m finding witches and bats in the upstairs bathroom and the basement playroom and even in the car. How did this get here? How is it everywhere?
It’s fun, though, these little surprises. Little bursts of joy. Silly little reminders of a celebratory moment of gasps and smiles and eyerolls months after the fact.
Each time I find one, the same thought comes: Even here. These little pieces of paper have found their way even here.
And every time, I get to decide: Will I let it bring me joy? Or will I get annoyed that there’s one more thing out of place, one more thing to clean up?
Those words make for a good mantra as we reflect on the Ignatian principle that God is in all things. These words reflect the reality of God, of God’s love, and of God’s desire to delight in all that we are.
Even in the challenges of caring for an aging parent or raising children during a pandemic, God is here.
Even in the heartache of loss and sacrifice and abandonment and failure, God is here.
Even in the seemingly unimportant, mundane, nitty-gritty details of the day, God is here.
God is in the grocery-store clerk and the closet of cleaning supplies and the traffic jam and the unwanted e-mail and the bag of freshly ground coffee. Even here.
But let’s be clear. These things—places and feelings, people and pets—aren’t gods. We aren’t proposing a practice of polytheism. Rather, we’re recognizing that our good God has made good things and that God’s very self is in the fabric of our lives, of all that we see and think and feel. We’re declaring that everything can and does express God’s love and great desire for us. We only need eyes to see.
Yes, even here.
And therein lies the choice. As you go about the day, finding those little pieces of confetti stragglers, do you recognize God present? And if so, do you choose to respond generously, graciously, and in love? Or do you close in on yourself, turning away from God and others?
Even here—even in this moment, in these words—God is present.
It’s not easy. That’s why the Examen is so important. Too often, we got caught up in that great swoosh of confetti; we close our eyes, muddle through, and hope to make it to the other side. God is here, we declare, but we stumble ahead, unseeing. The Examen is that chance to stop, slow down, and look back. It’s a chance to walk carefully and prayerfully through our days and pick up those little pieces of confetti, examine them, and discover where and how God is at work and what God is revealing to us as a result.
The excitement with which my four-year-old rips open a piece of mail from my parents is the way in which we all might go to God. Rather than proceeding with caution, we might proceed with abandon, allowing our good God to throw confetti at us, celebrating all that we are and all that we are yet to become.
And, in those drier, darker moments, we might look on the floor, and rather than cast about in despair, discover that stray piece of God’s love, reminding us that God is still present.
Yes, even here.