Skip to main content

When our spirit hungers



The precocious toddler’s interest in talking to her mother grew in insistence as the gathered group settled in for an hour of silent prayer. Shushing didn’t work, so the mother led her child into an adjoining room where she would still be part of the sanctuary, but sound would be dampened. Despite the closed door and heavy glass walls, the child’s fervent desire to speak with her mother was still audible.

I said a prayer for the patient mother determined to stay, and for the child who was either tired or hungry or impatient for Mom’s undivided attention. And then tried to bring my wandering thoughts back to prayer. I had come to Adoration with my own pressing need for answers.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a growing emptiness in my heart. A void, as if something is missing. It’s not psychological. Not physical. After doing an internal check, I determined it’s a spiritual void that I’m experiencing.

No, I’m not doubting God, his existence or goodness. I have full confidence in all of those. But I’m missing something I can’t quite put into words. I know God is with us always, surrounding us with his love. But over the past few months I have found myself unable to experience God’s presence. I’ve prayed about it, but those prayers went unanswered. Instead, this emptiness appeared. So, I came to Thursday evening Adoration, a weekly hour of silent prayer at St. Mary’s hoping to find answers.

 My mind was so full of the week’s work it was overflowing. I rattled off a litany of longings and complaints for the first forty-five minutes, including a one-sided discussion about this un-named void I was experiencing. Around the forty-five-minute mark, as my chattering mind finally slowed, I was able to discern the gentle voice of God.

Hunger. This one word finally gave a name to the emptiness that formed a hole in my heart. Its name was hunger. Specifically, a hunger for communion with God.

Our brain sends a hunger signal when we need to nourish our bodies. So too, I sensed in that moment, God telling me a signal is sent when our spirit hungers for God.

Perhaps the same longing for attention which drove the child to voice her need for her mother’s attention is akin to what I’ve sounded like to God. Hunger for a closer relationship drove me to impatiently demand answers and manifestations of God’s love because I couldn’t perceive it on my own.

Hunger perfectly described what I had been unable to. From my place in the second row of the church, I raised my head, and looked at the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament. It’s outstretched golden rays sparkled as it captured the flame of the altar candles. But how to feed this hunger? I sighed. I long for this hour each week, so in these few remaining minutes, I will stop looking for answers and allow my mind to rest.






As I did, peace washed over me. I smiled as the familiar feeling of love for God filled my heart as I gazed at the Blessed Sacrament. I love you, I said. For a few minutes I did nothing more than experience that love, and how grateful I was for this moment. As I gave my love to God, God’s love for me was reflected back.  As I gazed at God’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament, I felt God gazing back at me. As I experienced God’s love, and the presence I’d longed for, the void in my heart was filled.

We try so hard to understand what God wants from us. To see his hand in our world each day. And if we are unsuccessful in perceiving his presence, we like the young child, can become impatient and cantankerous. But like the child’s gentle and patient mother, God waits with us and for us.

God’s love is always available. It is as omnipresent as the air we breathe. The key is to recognize our soul’s hunger to experience God’s love, to seek him, and then quiet our mind enough to hear him. I find that space of quiet during the weekly hour of Adoration. You might find it while snowshoeing through the woods, or walking along a beach.

When I read the following paragraph earlier that morning during my devotions, I didn’t understand it. But now I do. “We […] endeavor to locate this source without knowing what is happening to us, nor what we desire or why, nor even whether we desire it. When the light finally dawns, and we realize what we are lacking, we then think of looking for God, at the very moment when he is  reaching for us, touching us, holding on to us.” Father Bernard Bro, O.P., Magnificat, January 2018.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Women are Highly Esteemed in the Eyes of This Man

I enter the sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace Church and my eyes adjust to the dimmed lights as the only illumination comes from candles on the altar and their glowing reflection in the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament.
My friend and I had come to join the Mary and Martha’s quarterly meeting which started with an hour of Adoration.
I took my seat in one of the pews, knelt, and surreptitiously glanced around the sanctuary. In the gloaming, I could see thirty other women kneeling like sentinels in silent prayer. 
Over the course of the hour, we would remain in contemplative silence.
As I slipped in and out of my prayers and wandering thoughts, I considered how pleased God must be when he sees us gathered in the simple and divine act of Adoration.
But in fact, women are highly esteemed in God’s sight not matter where we are. 
We only look at the life of Jesus Christ to understand how dearly he cherishes every woman.
In the Gospel of Saint John, a group of men bring a woman caught i…

If you are tired of the guilt trip you usually feel at church, here’s a different perspective

I am counting the days until I fly to Fort Lauderdale to see Mom for Christmas. Yes, I speak with her every day, sometimes twice a day. But as you know, phone calls just aren’t the same as being with someone you love. I look forward to seeing Mom’s smile, to holding her hand, to going for a drive along the beach with her. Spending time in the presence of someone we love enriches our relationship with them.
I believe the love I feel for Mom, is a sliver of what God feels for each of us. I believe God longs to share that love with us. Which is why we are called to spend time in God’s presence daily. We experience God’s presence when we meet him in our prayers, in church, and hopefully in one another. If I could make one wish for each of us, it would be that at some point during the next four weeks of Advent we would experience how much Jesus loves us.



The Best Christmas

During my morning devotions, I read these two verses of Psalm 117:
Praise theLord,all you nations;
extol him, all you peop…