I have come to know that there is something we all have in common. It is there when we go to bed at night. We awake in the morning with it. We sense it, sometimes, when we are out walking on a nice day, or when the music is especially beautiful in church on Sundays. When we are very busy, the awareness seems to lessen. Very likely, we were born with it – that abiding thirst for God. However, sometimes, it seems like the One, Who made us this way, leaves this deep longing within us, unattended.
We come to wonder, then, what is meant by the experience of God. In this arena, many believe that the only way to experience God is when life is going very well. Jesuit writer, Karl Rahner, had a different thought on this. For him, there are many ways to experience God. He felt that we experience God right down the middle of everyday life.
For example, have we ever just managed to get through the day and survive? Often, this is an experience of God. Were we ever able to forgive without hearing the words: “I’m sorry”? Did we ever do the right things when no one was around? Did we ever do the right thing, knowing that the consequences would be unfavorable to us?
There are many other examples. Did we ever continue believing, even though we seemed to have no faith at all? Against odds, did we ever make efforts to love, mostly because we believed that every person is precious in the sight of God, hoping that, someday, we ourselves might come to grasp this fully, deep down? Did we ever walk, with a heart full of tears, and still kept on being kind and out-going?
Did we ever have a fear that wouldn’t go away, only to wake up some morning and not have it be there? I recall that one time, a long time ago, I felt bad about something. (At this point, I cannot remember why.) I went and baked two apple pies. When the pies were done, the sadness was gone. These are all experiences of God.
It would appear that thirsting for God not only propels us forward into God, but is at the heart of all real life, and all real prayer. In fact, it may be that longing for God is itself a very special and unique way of praying.
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.