Welcoming God Within
By Lynne Elwinger, O.C.D.
Christmas is coming again! A divine child is born for us! Angels and shepherds spread the news. The Magi come on a long journey to see. King Herod trembles in fear. Mary and Joseph tend the child. All creation stands in awe.
Year after year, Christmas seems to captivate the hearts and imaginations of people everywhere. What is it about this story, this celebration, that is so inviting? Is it the joyous song of the angels? Is it the faith-filled humility of poor parents with nowhere to stay? Is it the hope that this baby brings to a nation in bondage? Is it the comforting reminder of Emmanuel, God-With-Us? Is it the spirit of giving and caring for others? Is it nostalgic remembrances? Most of us will resonate with a mixture of all of these.
Where New Hope Is Born
Yet there seems to be an indefinable something more, something not readily seen or articulated, but rather instinctively sought after by human hearts all around the world, Are we, like the Magi, still seeking that place where the divine and human have become one, where new hope is born and where untold potential for good appears in our world? Could it be that the Bethlehem we seek today is found inside us? Could the Christmas story be the story of God-Within-Us?
Created in the image of God, we have a divine "within-ness". In the interior of our being, we carry a portion of divine presence from the moment of our conception to the moment of our death into greater Life. We can be totally unaware of this God-presence within us, but we can never be separated from it. Our lack of awareness never becomes God's absence. As we hear again the Christmas themes, we are invited to take a journey to that place within where a star is shining to announce the presence of the divine gift. We are given an awesome opportunity to enter into a relationship with God-Within-Us that will bring great joy to both.
The newly discovered divine presence within us, like any infant, needs our time, attention, nurturing, protection, love and willingness to await the unfolding of future possibilities. To begin this journey, set aside one or two small periods of time each day, in a quiet place, to be present to God-Within-Us. Consider it a time of discovery. Try not to have specific expectations. Just as we are each unique and irreplaceable in the universe, so our way of relating with the divine presence will also be unique. Remember that in any deeply meaningful relationship, time is required to come to that feeling of special bonding and the sense of belonging to one another.
Godís Desire For You
Trust that God's desire for you is even greater than your desire for God can ever be. Be open to the gift. Be aware that any relationship asks something from you. Along with all that you receive, be prepared to give and to give up. After you have kept these meeting times for a while, recognize the sense of "something missing" that you feel when you skip these special times together.
The good news that Christmas brings includes the assurance that we are never without God, who is both among us and within us. Finding God does not require going somewhere special or doing something complicated. It does require time and attention and being present to the process. The Star over the Bethlehem within us never dims nor does it go away. God continues to become human in and through each of us, and we, if we are willing, continue to become divine in God. Every day can be Christmas.
We need no wings to go in search of God but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon God present within us. (St. Teresa of Jesus)
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