I can so clearly recall sitting in a session with my spiritual director as we talked about taking moments to come back to our awareness of God. During December 2020, instead of savouring my favourite season of the year, soaking in all the advent goodness I had planned for myself with study books, sharing the virtual Advent Soul Care Yoga Series, and planning the then annual (turned virtual) Christmas Yoga Experience, life had began to burst at the seams…
The imagined days I longed for all year were passing quicker and quicker each day without any of the anticipated joy, slowness, or serenity I had wanted to bring about.
Dreamy mornings reading through the advent study book and journaling by the light of the Christmas tree, spending spacious time planning for the series and the event, savouring the small hours of daylight with walks outside and letting christmas music be the soundtrack to my season while I worked from home (and did school work) was replaced with leaving my house well before sunlight to go to work and do a job that was not mine when someone needed to step in. My intentionally cultivated schedule of 25- 30 hour day-job work weeks turned into 40- 50+ hours while still frantically arriving home to plan yoga sessions and do school work.
A season of frustration, of feeling like time was slipping away, of not being able to put my best foot forward the way I would have liked led to the conversation with my director where I shared these feelings of frustration, of nothing ‘going right’, of feeling like I was missing out on this beautiful connection to God that the depths of my soul and the marrow of my bones was so instinctively craving.
I don’t recall exactly what was said and how the conversation unfolded sentiment by sentiment, but the idea of approaching my every day moments I do have with acknowledgement of the presence of God was the heart of the conversation.
One thing I do remember is that from that session on, when I would step out the side door of our home, before I began walking down the path through the backyard to the car to start work before 6am, I would pause. Look up. See the moon. Say hello. Take a deep inhale. A nervous-system-calming release of an exhale. And smile knowing the presence of God was here in this pause of a moment.
I didn’t wake up at 4:30am to get in a journaling session by the glow of the bulbs from the tree. I didn’t force myself to stay awake longer than I needed, preventing a good nights rest, to engage in a prayer practice… Instead, I listened to my body needing rest, I listened to my soul craving God, and I learned the incredible joy of finding God with you in the present moment no matter what life looks like.
Moment by moment, breath by breath, pause by pause, smile by smile, we can come back to our awareness of the Loving Presence of God with us.
Since that season, I’ve had experiences of prolonged routine that feels nourishing in the rhythm and times of the daily awareness being what lifted my soul to the next moment and the next after that. And, during especially sweet times, both facets have been a solace.
The practice of acknowledging God with me at each moment has been an incredible gift.
It’s been food and fuel, rest and restoration, joy and play, abundance and simplicity.
It’s been life-giving in the very ways I need it.
Too often conversations have been had where guilt permeates the words we speak when we don’t connect with God in our usual ways. We have a prayer practice of connection with God that is our default setting, our go-to that works for us to feel that connection or to know that connection is true whether we feel it or not, but then life happens and as soon as we miss a day, or two, or 7 or 30, the guilt starts to rise– why did we so easily cast away what we know nourishes us and deepens our relationship with God? Is God mad or disappointed in me for not connecting? I get points for going to church on Sunday, though… right? God? Are you there? Why am I not more committed? Why don’t I just get up at 4am and do the thing or stay up late or stop committing to other things? If i’m not prioritizing my faith, am I really a ‘good Christian’? I SHOULD do this, I SHOULD do that, I just need to MAKE TIME’…
Shame, guilt, self-doubt, God-doubt, and more flood in and infiltrate our being.
How do we even show up again with God?
But what if God has been with you through it all? Through the moments of your best laid plans going perfectly, and the seasons where everything falls away? What if God is with you and, instead of being upset or mad or disappointed in you, has been inviting you lovingly into awareness of where God is with you even then, and now, and here?
What would happen if we truly lived into Emmanuel, God With Us?
I am reminded of the story in scripture where Jesus says He’s leaving so that one even better can be with us– the Spirit. In the Amplified they list a number of names for the spirit here: Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counsellor, Strengthener, Standby).
The beauty of God as Great Mystery is God as Spirit and God as Jesus and God as Creator and God is all three and all three in one. So when we acknowledge the Spirit we acknowledge God. When we acknowledge Jesus, we acknowledge God. It’s all Divine Mystery which is encouraging, confusing as we can never fully understand, and yet so wildly beautiful we can’t help but be drawn in.
So God with us, the Spirit as our helper, our comforter, advocate, intercessor, counsellor, strengthener, standby… this Loving Presence of God with us always. We don’t need fancy prayers or eloquent gestures… God IS with us.
So then we ask ourselves, what would it look like for me to acknowledge the Presence of God here, now, in this moment?
Some of my most memorable and beautiful moments with God have been in noticing God in the here and now outside of my routine of prayer habits…
- During yoga teacher training when I feared my injuries would prevent me from engaging how I’d like, I felt God’s love through a person who massaged my forearms and wrists in a child’s pose.
- During a time of silence at a retreat, I was drawn to music in the silence of the rustling leaves, the feeling of the breeze on my skin, and felt God’s words that this, that nature and wind and movement and breath, was all for me and us as people to care for and lean into and acknowledge God’s presence in as God created it all.
- And in all those brief pauses of gazing at the moon in December of 2020, when life was anything but how I envisioned it, I felt God’s presence even there, thinking of how gazing up at the night sky has always been a place of wonder and joy for me, and how in acknowledging that joy, God was there with me, too.
We often overlook the small moments.
We want to trade in the seconds that pass for the mountain top moments.
We want to take the little moments in prayer and swap them out for the big, transformational moments that stories are often made of.
How often do we hear stories of the every day parts of our lives being our resting place, our still, small, beautiful moments of unravelling defensive walls and being present to all that God is doing in our being? I’d say, it’s not often. To the outside world watching, it’s less glamorous to notice God in each moment than to ‘find God when there was no other way’. But what if we took the time to notice the small moments of God with us; God is with us in the car, when we wash dishes, when we make our bed and brush our teeth. God is revealed to us in nature as seasons change and as our pets greet us at the door and as we paint or write or run. God is with us, present to us, as we have days of anger and sadness, and days of joy and slumber.
God’s presence doesn’t change, our awareness of it does.
So perhaps this becomes an invitation for you to notice.
To acknowledge that life looks different and as seasons change, so does how you can show up prayer practices but that within the moments that make up each day, there are ways we can awaken to the Presence here and now.
Through a liturgy of your day practice you can form prayers around the monotonous tasks you do to find meaning and meet God there. Through breath prayer we can pray without ceasing, allowing the life-giving rhythm of breath to connect us to the life-giver. Through brief pauses of what captivates our sight we can acknowledge the fingerprints of God on falling leaves and shining stars, on beautiful architecture, or on the patterns on the wood… why does this sight stir me? What hand did God have in this coming to be? Through replaying our day before bed we can look back and notice where God was and where we didn’t notice God to aid in heightening our awareness for the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.
Moment by moment, we can find rhythms of daily connection with God.
If you’ve gone through seasons where connection with God wasn’t as anticipated, and where you perhaps had longed for tools to find these points of connection with God throughout the day, join me for Moment by Moment. Learn more at the link below.