God Right Here

boatThis story is inspired by Matthew 14:22, following the feeding of the five thousand.

Jesus made me get into the boat with the other disciples. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with him on the shore, savoring the miracle I’d just seen. Thousands of people fed! I wished I could just stand there at his side, watching.

He made us get into the boat, and I sat with my legs crossed, my hand trailing over the side. His body shrank in size as ripples of water slapped our vessel. The sound overtook the hum of the crowds as I watched people disperse at Jesus’ commands. What did he say to cause the crowd to recede in waves, slowly, across the rolling hills?

His hands were outstretched in a loving gesture. Was that a healing movement, a commissioning, or an authoritative command to go back to loved ones at home? I wondered if each person felt his words in a different way—as if Jesus were speaking specifically to the need in each soul. God could do that, I knew. I surmised that each was hearing something different as Jesus spoke lovingly, yet authoritatively.

“Caleb, Ruth needs you to go home to her right now,” I imagined someone hearing in his heart. And then Caleb recalled, “Oh! Yes. I promised to move those heavy rocks so she could expand our garden.” Perhaps that was Caleb over there, joining the ebbing crowd.

Jesus, I don’t want to be in this boat moving away. I want to stay on the shore with you, witnessing every word and miracle.

“I’m right here.”

I suddenly felt the words in my heart. A surprising Presence made the Divine One known deep within me.

“I’m right here.”

And I overheard the disciples in our boat talking: “Remember that time Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat? And we were afraid, so we woke him? And he calmed the sea?”

I remembered.

A hush settled over the craft as the distance between us and Jesus grew wider.

“I’m right here.”

Despite my longing to stay ashore, I now felt distinctly that God was with me in that boat, wanted me there, moving to a mission that I didn’t understand completely, if at all.

What am I doing in this boat? What shore will welcome me?

“I’m right here.”

How can it be possible to see Jesus ministering to the crowds and know for certain that he is right here?

Each person on shore holds a bit of leftover bread, or perhaps an extra fish, in a pocket or satchel. They will take it home to others and tell of the miracle. Perhaps those leftovers will feed a family for a week. Maybe they will have disappeared from the table the next morning, like manna.

At last I am ready to turn from the shrinking dot that is Jesus on the horizon and look ahead to the unknown shore. But before I arrive there, I am blessed by the sound of gently lapping water against wood. It will be a long, quiet journey. Mild waves are one of the few sounds that invade my thoughts as I sit with the knowledge that Jesus is right here.

Right here.

I am not alone.

I breathe deeply and become aware of the present moment.

I am sitting in my prayer chair.

I think I will set a repeating alarm on my phone, and the label on the alarm will be, “I’m right here.” This will remind me to examine (or Examen) the last few hours. How was God present with me despite my movements away from where Jesus stands on a metaphorical shore?

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. It was a gloomy day and I was all alone in the adoration chapel.

    That time my mind was filled with so many things, taking care of four kids and my husband away in foreign shores. Perhaps I am not aware of it but it was taking its toll on me.

    I remember closing my eyes and in a split second a gentle wind blew, caressing my face and my whole body. I opened my eyes immediately and there was nothing. The trees were’t moving at all. There was only silence.

    That was the time I heard him say, ” I am here.”

  2. Yes.. I thought about this reflection as my husband and I were blessed on a river cruise recently. Looking at all of those distant shores and knowing that wherever we docked, Jesus was there. We had a friend waiting in every port.

  3. This reflection is a perfect reminder for me to be more aware of the presence of Jesus in everything I see in creation, and to recall that he is “right here” with me. The boat crossing reminds me of my life drifting from one phase and time to another and despite the journey, Jesus is “right there” with me into a
    new destination. Beautiful reflection!

  4. Thank you for reminding me that God is always surrounding me with His love and care even when my thoughts and the events of my daily life are far from him. You are such a good storyteller.

  5. Imagination in prayer can do wonderful things like your story. It made me feel right there on the boat, listening to Jesus words comforts me , assures me that he is by my side. Thankyou.

  6. Dear Loretta,
    My experience is that God also likes to play hide and seek with me.
    Then He sends someone in my life to help me find Him.
    Thanks again and again for your inspirational writings. God bless you.

    • I really relate to the hide and seek image. God is ALWAYS present, but sometimes I have to go looking behind the nearest tree, distraction, or challenge.

      • Dear Loretta,
        God is visiting us in the country that was just devastated by a strong typhoon. HE IS PRESENT and sends help in the person of the rescuers, the pray-ers, foreign aids and many more. Pray with us that we grow in our faith in God’s loving presence.
        Praise God for all the blessings in the midst of suffering and death. Many bodies are still missing.

  7. Very powerful reflection! God is “right here” if we only take the time to be still and listen. Thanks for the reminder. Your gift of storytelling is wonderful.

  8. I had planned to submit this recent poem as part of a future dotMagis post, but your beautiful reflection (and, I hope, the Holy Spirit) are leading me to submit it here:
    I’m Right Here
    I’m right here, beside you,
    whether or not you notice Me;
    see this joy?
    receive it!
    it’s Mine and I want you to have it;
    I will comfort and protect,
    even if I allow you to be taken
    where you do not want to go;
    it is for My glory,
    and the saving of the world;
    YOU are for My glory;
    you accompany Me
    as I’m ongoing-ly
    saving the world;
    right here, beside Me,
    in the saving of the world;
    you bring Me joy;
    you bring My joy to the world;
    whether or not they notice Me.

    • Dear Mary Ellen,
      I love how God’s Holy Spirit works. Your poem is a good fit with the awareness that God is at work in our boats, whereever we’re floating, rowing, or capsizing!

  9. That is so powerful.
    Usually I am in the boat, drifting away and not looking back for Jesus or looking forward to his will. I just drift away. Thank you for the beautiful reminder, that regardless of where I am, I am not alone.

    • And sometimes I forget who else is in the boat with me. I have friends and supporters to encourage me.
      Thanks for your reply.


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