Reflecting God

hand shielding sun over water - photo by Steve PehanichI strive for distractions-free prayer spaces, and I was sure the stateroom balcony on our once-in-a-lifetime cruise would be such a place. A monotonous horizon of water stretched in every direction. I had nowhere to be, no agenda, and as much time as I desired. Yet my brain refused to settle. Distracting thoughts disturbed my psyche. The words of the day’s Scripture readings tasted like sawdust. I could not find a connection with God. Frustrated, I asked God for help.

Then an idea suggested itself. Try music! Music is often a great catalyst for prayer. God uses it to touch deep places within me. So I called up a Christian music station and prayed that whatever song presented itself would lead me to my Lord.

Sure as I’m writing this, God chose a song just for me that day. Its gentle melody and sweet lyrics drowned me in God’s love, right there on that balcony:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep…

My eyes burned with tears as the group, Hillsong UNITED, sang the lyrics of “Oceans,” that gave voice to what was my deep desire: “I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves.”

Distractions felt like waves I could let pass. I reveled in the sun’s reflection dancing across the waters. “My soul will rest in your embrace,” the soloist sang. And I was drawn to respond, “I love you, Lord.” I looked out at the water with renewed love for its creator.

But the sun was too intense. I could not take in the view without raising my hand to block the disc of the sun. Now I could continue to praise the God who made the light, which, reflected on the water, appeared like a million diamonds. The sun hidden behind my hand was still dominant and strong, with its rays dancing on the sea’s surface. My heart filled with a sense that God was right there with me. And that’s when I became aware of God’s voice within. I heard not exact words but experienced more of an immediate insight:

I am your Creator, too powerful for you to comprehend. Just as you cannot look directly at the sun, you are not ready to look directly at me. But you see me reflected in myriad ways all around you.

All I could do was marvel and rejoice.

Suddenly a memory surfaced, at God’s prompting. I remembered Moses asking God, “Show me your glory, I pray.” But God answered, “No one shall see me and live.” (Exodus 33:18–20) I sensed with wonder that this was why Jesus became human: so I could look at God as much as I wanted without being overpowered. And because God lives in all people, we can see God’s reflected light, whether the person we see knows it or not. The sun dances differently on rough seas and glassy calm. But the same sun is reflected.

I felt gratitude to God for initiating our awe-inspiring conversation that day. While the singer continued the prayer in song, I thanked the Lord for letting me reflect God, just as the sea reflects the sun. I gave thanks that I am made to be a mirror of God’s radiance. I asked God’s constant glowing to burn away complaining words and leave me with the overwhelming gratitude I felt in that moment.

I was reminded of my deepest desire, that is, to love God in other people and to draw closer to the purpose for which I was created: an eternity with Jesus in heaven.

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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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. How incredible is our God! God answers our needs in such personal ways. God’s love knows no bounds. Thank you for sharing this very personal experience of our Lord’s love for you.

  2. Another beautiful reflection – thank you Loretta. You always bring us to a new level of imagining God and experiencing God in our lives. The vastness of the sea is the perfect place to contemplate the Divine, and you just opened up the waters and skies to me! A Blessed Lent to you.

  3. What an eye-opening reflection, especially that ‘Jesus became human: so I could look at God as much as I wanted without being overpowered’. Such an inspiring thought. I had never thought of His incarnation in comparison to Moses’s encounter with God. And if I am stuck in a prayer rut I will follow your example and try music as a catalyst. Thank you for sharing this, Loretta. Your posts and those by the other DotMagis bloggers are such a blessing and help.

  4. Loretta, an awe inspiring article. Like you, many of us yearn to find that peaceful moment wrapped in God’s love for us. I related so closely to your words and it filled my morning with with joy hearing God’s love in you

    • It was hard writing such a personal post, but I sensed that God gave me the experience so I would share it with others. Thank you for writing. I’m so glad that people recognize themselves and their experiences in this post. God is awesome!

  5. Thank you for this intimate moment: To hear God speaking within. May we all be light that reflects our God. May God be praised.

  6. Absolutely amazing reflection on your moment of grace. Thank you for this.

  7. Loretta, I thank God for the amazing insights he gives you, and the talent God has given you to lead us all closer to Jesus and to the Father.

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