by Laurie Gudim
There are times when I pray as if God were out there somewhere, listening in. I’ll murmur a short plea for help or a thank you. But I don’t really expect a response or even any real interaction, because I am coming from the perspective in which I believe myself to be an isolated individual surrounded by other isolated beings, and God is one of them.
At other times I know that God somehow lives and breathes me, moment by moment. God is part of my next heartbeat, the thrum of energy along my neural passage ways, a sentient presence in the very midst of all my thoughts, feelings and sensations, always there – right there. At those times I understand that God’s response is already part of whatever it is that I am asking or saying, because the very mind that shapes the prayer is resting in God.
This helps focus priorities. If we know we are interwoven in our essence with the holy stuff of God, different things become important. We don’t cling so much to human-scale achievements or successes. We are able to move with the impulse of the triune Holy One who speaks at our center.
In today’s reading from Acts, Philip has just been urged by the Holy Spirit to leave his very successful church in Samaria. He does not cling to his desire to continue to develop God’s mission there, nor does he consider how his people will be affected by the loss of his leadership. He just goes – traveling light – out onto a wilderness road. When he finds there a very unusual stranger, he doesn’t turn away because of the man’s odd appearance or the fact that he is maimed and therefore unclean. Guided by the Spirit and without hesitation, he joins the man’s entourage and even hops up into his chariot beside him. After they have established a trusting relationship and Philip has shared the good news of Jesus, the Ethiopian is baptized. And at just the moment when he could be feeling some triumph at this success, Philip is drawn away yet again. But, as soon as his feet touch down on new ground he begins anew, proclaiming the Good News to the next set of strangers.
In those moments when I know God’s presence at the very heart of my existence, I “get” that I am too attached to measurable outcomes: the possible illness, the loss of income, the successful lecture or icon, the dream church. God’s creative energy moves at a very different level. It is always changing shape, always trying new angles, always growing things from the edges. The only consistent thing about it is that it is profound love. I can always count on it being love.
Laurie Gudim works is a religious iconographer and writer in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.She has recently published her novel, Loving the Six-Toed Jesus, available from Amazon.
Image: By Мастер Георгий – http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.gr.1613/0129?sid=a7590df9b8aca22111c8359533716419, Public Domain, Link