Finding God in the Candy Jar

candy dish - image courtesy of Gretchen Crowder
Editor’s note: Today we kick off the 11th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius, our month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore ways of Experiencing God in the Ordinary. The inspiration for our theme is the new book by William A. Barry, SJ.

God used to sit in a glass jar of candy on the edge of my desk.

Back before the pandemic, when my school was filled with students and I went to my office every day, I kept a glass jar of candy sitting on the edge of my desk. Every morning as my oldest son and I arrived at my school, he insisted on being the one to fill up the jar before I walked him to his own school nearby. It was his special job, and he was incredibly proud of it. As he grabbed handfuls of candy from my supply hidden in my cabinet, he always marveled at how the jar had miraculously emptied since he filled it up the day before. “Well, honey, people come by to eat the candy throughout the day,” I’d remind him. “That’s what it is there for.”

Inspired to give visitors the best candy, he worked diligently to place a good variety in the jar each day—shoving in as many little pieces as he could, even as they began to overflow onto my desk. “I put the best candy on top, Mom, for the person that needs it the most,” he would say.

Each day I got the unique privilege of watching the candy jar slowly empty as students and faculty alike staggered in. Some came just to grab a quick treat after lunch. Others came to get a small bite of sugar to relieve the stress of their day. Still others came by to linger and chat about everything and nothing.

As each piece of candy left the bowl, I was blessed with another glimpse of God right before me. It was just an ordinary bowl of candy that brought such extraordinary conversations and interactions daily. Occasionally, the candy and I would take a trip outside my office so that God and I could make the effort to reach others where they were.

You may find it quite odd for me to say that I found God sitting in a bowl of candy on my desk. But for me, it’s a demonstration that God comes to us in all sorts of ordinary ways, if we are just open to looking. If we wait to find God only in the extraordinary, we might just miss the moment God touches our hearts through a simple Starburst leaving a glass jar to enter the hand of one who needed it.

I had forgotten about the candy jar during my months at home, though I had missed the interactions of my colleagues and students every day. Then, one day recently my oldest son saw me struggling to condense the leftover Easter candy into a jar on our kitchen counter. He insisted on helping me, piling the candy as high as it would go. And once again, God was there with both of us, shining light through that colorful glass bowl.

We begin 31 Days with St. Ignatius with Five Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me About Jesus by Becky Eldredge.

Use the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius on your favorite social media, and share the ways you’ve experienced God in the ordinary.

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Gretchen Crowder
Gretchen Crowder has served as a campus minister and Ignatian educator for the Jesuit Dallas community for the last 15 years. She is also a freelance writer and speaker and is the host of Loved As You Are: An Ignatian Podcast. She has a B.S. in mathematics and a M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame as well as an M.T.S. from the University of Dallas. She resides in Dallas, TX, with her husband, three boys, and an ever-growing number of pets.


  1. Dear Lord, please grant me the grace to see You in all things and feel your abiding presence even in the moments that You are most unexpected. Amen.

  2. Exactly what I needed to hear today. I have a candy bowl and a Keurig for the same purpose. I am so missing those interactions, and yet I now realize instead of focusing on the loss, I have new candy jar moments and I need to pay attention to them. So good! Thank you.

  3. I retired as government employee way back in 1987. Even before my employment with NIA in the Philippines, my husband and I have been part of the diocesan apostolate (in the Cursillo de Cristiandad) Marriage Encounter and Life in the Spirit Seminar) for 34 years. I was in these work in the Vineyard of the Lord that we got to know God better and have developed our prayer life better.
    Our children petitioned us in Canada and moved in 2016 and it was here I was diagnosed for lung cancer and submitted for surgery in early 2017-stage 4. I have undergone chemotherapy … radiation and now on immunotherapy. When we went gir vacation in 2019 our Lady of Visitation was visiting our parish and on her last night i asked: ” I am going for CTScan tomorrow Mama Mary, please give me a surprise.” She did because my metastatic adrenal gland became smaller and the nodules in my liver and kidney became smaller. again when we came back to Canada I gad another CTSCan and the same thing happened. We know that there is nothing impossible to God and our Blessed Mother continues to echo our needs to her Son. I gave undergone chemotherapy, radiation and now on immunotherapy. We continue to pray for healing and hope and trust in God’s mercy …to walt in hope and expectant faith that in God’s perfect time He will do what He wills is best. whatever He gives we pray for the grace of acceptance, patience abd endurance.

  4. During this hard times of CORONA -19 PANDEMIC, My job as a chef stopped our hotel was totally closed until further notice, my lovely wife and mother to my two children who was professional teacher in one of the privet school within the city of Nairobi whom we thought that we will depend on unfortunately all the schools in Kenya were also closed, we thought this will take place for awhile but one month passed, imagine the second month came with a lot of hopes that everything will get well soon and we will go back to our jobs to earn something for our daily basic needs which were rent, food and clothes for our children but things got worse and worsen, the number of infections of covid rose to an extend the president introduced curfew and lock down to certain counties within the country, life became tough and tougher . But due to my daily reading, prayers and meditations my able GOD have never forget me he always find my way out, sometimes in the morning we only have break fast no lunch or supper but our providing GOD who provides even for bird s which don’t work or cultivate land, have never left us to go hungry without food, imagine we are in the forth month no any income from my side and from my wife’s side too but we eat drink sleep with GOD POWER , I will never forsake my living GOOD, l will always praise, adore, love and thank him for ever because as a mare human being l could have not enable to provide empty handed and reach were we are up to today with my family.Thanks be to almighty GOD.

    • Alphonce,
      Your story and your faith both deserve an outpouring of support. It is surreal that i can read your words in the United States but I can’t get you food or protect you from this virus. I find it almost ironic that you are a chef and find God in serving food to others and yet now you are without enough for your own family. Know that we hold you and all those who are suffering from this virus in our prayers. Know that in God we are connected and you are not alone. And know that someday this will end and perhaps I will be able to get to your hotel and we will share our experience of God in person. Stay strong.

  5. For a while I had a beta fish on my desk at work. People loved to come by and see him much like you were saying. Lovely article, thank you for sharing your story.


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