Finding God in all things is just a matter of opening your eyes. God is present to us at all times in all places. If we can find God in all times and places, we can encounter him in prayer in all these places as well. How can I see God in all things and places? When I set my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole mind on seeking him, I will begin to see God’s presence all around me, beside me, and within me.
In the prophet Jeremiah we see God saying, “I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. No one can hide where I cannot see them. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth” (Jer.23: 23-24). We have all had experiences of speechless wonder at one time or another. Maybe it was in seeing the beauty of a sunset or standing on the edge of a vast landscape like the Grand Canyon suddenly filled with wonder and the sense of our smallness. Or maybe it was in witnessing the birth of a child, or maybe we have been surprised by a moment of heroic behavior on the part of one human being toward another. In those moments of awe, are we not humbled? Do we not feel as if we have been in the presence of something much greater than ourselves?
But these moments of surprise or awe do not have to always be so large or intense. For example, I can remember one time when I was suddenly taken out of the ordinary of my surroundings and thrust into the realm of holy wonder. I was sitting at a small table under an open umbrella reading a book on a bright midsummer day. I looked up from my book and my gaze was suddenly drawn to a solitary, bold, brilliantly colorful pansy that had somehow taken root in a crack in the concrete patio. I was struck by that singular beauty and the tenacity of life it represented there in the middle of that concrete desert. I could have taken that little moment and that beautiful little pansy as just a momentary pleasantry and gone back to my reading. But my mind was suddenly filled with gratitude to God for that little gift of beauty. It became a moment filled with the divine, the presence of God. Pure gift. I was overwhelmed by that singular gift of beauty.
I am reminded of a small poem penned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that goes like this:
Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, / Takes off his shoes. / The rest sit around it and / pluck blackberries.
There is an allusion in this beautiful little poem of Moses and the burning bush. Remember, as he approached the mysterious bush he heard a voice telling him to take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. What if we began to “see” that all things are crammed with heaven and afire with God? What if we began to understand that this earth that God has given us is, in fact, holy ground? Would we not also be moved to remove our shoes in humble reverence and respect? How would that conscious awareness change the ways we live our lives in this world? Let us, dear brothers and sisters, deepen the habits of prayer in our lives. May we learn to rejoice always, and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5: 16-18). For it is in our relationship with God that God becomes more visible to us in all things.