It often happens that our spiritual lives are not in synch with the liturgical calendar. Some years we may approach the holidays with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all of God’s gifts and excitement at the coming of Advent and Christmas. Other years, as a friend recently exclaimed in exasperation, “I’ve got nothing!”
She told me how she desired to go into the holidays with vibrant faith and abundant gratitude. Yet she felt nothing. Desired is the operative word here. St. Ignatius advises that we state our desires before every session of prayer by “asking for the grace.” My friend desired a vibrant faith. She desired abundant gratitude. And, at the root of it, she desired to hear God.
The fact that she didn’t feel these things didn’t mean that God wasn’t present. In fact, St. John of the Cross reminds us that, “In the first place, it should be known that if anyone is seeking God, the Beloved is seeking that person much more.” (The Living Flame of Love)
Finding that connection with God is like finding cell phone signals. I have recently moved, and I just cannot get a phone signal in my house. I’ve tried troubleshooting and have walked through every corner of every room, and there is no place where I can get a sustained signal. When my sister calls, I might hear every other word, or the call might drop. I try calling her back. She tries calling me back. It goes to voicemail. Not being able to connect is so frustrating! Yet we still know we are both there and wanting to connect. Last week, in utter frustration, I hopped in my car, drove up the road, and sat under a cell-phone tower. For more than 60 glorious minutes, I had a clear signal and could hear everything my sister was saying.
When we find ourselves coming into the holiday season feeling like we’ve “got nothing” and want to connect with God but can’t seem to get a clear signal, let’s consider the places where we’ve connected with God in the past. These are our personal “towers.” These are the places where God’s ever-present desire to connect with us comes through most clearly. For instance, for St. Ignatius, the banks of the Cardoner River would be one such place.
We all have those places that serve to amplify God’s communications to us. What are those special places where you hear God most clearly?
- In nature?
- During exercise?
- At Adoration, sitting in a special spot?
- Sitting in the rocking chair on the porch or by the fire?
- While playing music?
- In the presence of a loved one?
- In the gift of community?
- In the quiet or in the hustle and bustle of the city?
Wherever that divine communication tower is, make a commitment to go to it for 20 minutes a day. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t connect right away. Keep at it. If you are desiring that connection, know that God desires it all the more. It’s only a matter of time before attaining a glorious connection.