Listen for God's presence in life happenings

By Cathy RhoadsJune 8, 2013 

One morning as I walked by my window in the darkest hour before dawn, a setting full moon grabbed my attention. It hung suspended above the horizon, casting a pathway of shimmering light across the river. Captivated by its beauty, my concerns and worries instantly vanished.

Abraham Herschel wrote, "Faith is not an insurance, but a constant effort, a constant listening to the eternal." Is the eternal evident in all of life's circumstances, if I make the effort to listen, as Herschel states?

I have been studying the works of Ed McMahon and Peter Campbell and others who have researched the connection our bodies have to the eternal.

Christian theology calls this being a part of the one body of Christ; other traditions may refer to it as oneness or universality of life. Getting in touch with our body connection to the One can happen when our minds are silenced.

Maybe that is why our so-called insights come through our dreams, an experience in nature, or when we first awaken -- before our minds have a chance to run interference.

Our body felt-senses, when freed from the chatter of our minds, can be a conduit to experience our connection to one another and to the world around us. Similar to how we hold and soothe a hurting child, our own felt-senses cry out for that same kind of attention, presence, and care.

In the midst of a transition I am navigating, I realized I was carrying an overwhelming sense of disappointment. I chose to spend time with my felt-sense of sadness, giving it the attention it seemed to be demanding. To my surprise, a past experience, one I had not thought of in years, came to me as though it had happened yesterday. An ominous peace accompanied it.

The memory was of a time I had the privilege of visiting a woman whose lower leg had been amputated. I sat in reverence as she told me how she had spent her morning before surgery. She had awoken early and spent time with her leg, re-visiting some of the places they had journeyed together. Prior to be being wheeled into surgery, she blessed her limb and thanked it for the many years of service it had provided her.

I would describe my visit as a time when giving and receiving were one. Now years later, the connection we made blessed me again with a peace beyond understanding.

I understand the connection my body so readily made. Yet, like witnessing the moon in the darkness, I least expected to experience the awesome presence of God exploring my body-felt sense of sadness. God was hanging out waiting to be discovered in the darkness.

I would agree with Abraham Herschel: "Listening to the eternal takes effort." Well worth the effort, I would say.

-- Cathy Rhoads is a board certified chaplain with National Association of Catholic Chaplains and co-founder of Spirithaven Hospitality Retreat Center. She attends Christ the King Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email lluginbill@tricity herald.com.

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