Monday, January 4, 2016

Identifying our Everyday Epiphanies

Mighty manifestations.  
Surprising guests.  

Mysterious gifts. 

Celestial signs.

Awesome apparitions.

Perhaps it is natural to wish for great epiphanies, as confirmation of our Christian faith--"the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

But what if the more suitable  stance toward the Supernatural is to pray for the wisdom to discern these real-time revelations in the small ways that they occur each day?  To see God in the present moment, without clinging too tightly; to glimpse the Lord in a brief personal encounter, without demanding it at every turn.

What if the only way to see the traces of God's activity in my daily life is to watch for it, to attend to the traces of the Spirit at work each day?

The not-so-new atheism or the ever-old agnosticism would have us believe (as an act of faith!?!) that there is no deeper meaning to events in our lives.  Everything is randomness, chance, accidents of history--unguided and unraveling aimlessly down through the millennia.

And yet a theological reflection on life itself opens our eyes to a whole range of other possibilities:  In retrospect, I realize that someone's offhanded comment, spoken unwittingly, still rattles around in my mind and touches a strange nerve somewhere deep inside. ("Behold, the Lamb of God..." [Jn 1:36b])  In life's rear-view mirror, I notice how a certain person who happened into my life on a given day ended up redirecting my personal history.  ("It was about four in the afternoon..." [Jn 1:39b])

Everyday epiphanies do not provide a definitive explanation of our lives.  They offer no grandiose claims to a "theory of everything".  Rather, they are the threads on the Weaver's loom, or the colors on the Artist's pallet, whose ultimate role in the piece of art remains to be seen.  These glimpses of life's hidden meaning and beauty point to patterns yet to unfold, or to tiles of the mosaic which is not yet complete.

Finding God in everyday life stands as one of the hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality.  Nature, silence, old friends, and even apparent enemies: God's in-breaking is not contained in neat categories.  Eyes of wonder can alone see the wonderful.  Imaginations unafraid of what's real can alone perceive reality itself. 

This New Year, let's pray for a new perspective, a supernatural stance, which will help us trust that the Lord continues to work in and through our lives!

In grace and peace,