After a brief pause to address a few reader comments, this post follows up on God meets us in the most surprising places: Those monks and mystics worth their salt in any age also faced the daily, ordinary life of cleaning bathrooms, preparing food, working in the field, facing people they’d rather not face, and falling asleep in prayer. I’ve often wished we had more from them about living alert to God in the midst of it all. But I’ve come to appreciate their reserve.
“If you’re going to watch me,” they seem to say, “then watch me at prayer. Follow me in prayer and you’ll have light to guide you in your daily life. Your path will be made known to you. But you must not hurry.”
Start then wherever you are. Wake up to this moment, this place. Beware of the impulse to find a teacher, a guru, a conference, or some sacred place that will launch you into the ecstasy you seek. If you don’t find it here, where you are, you’ll likely not find it at all. Follow those impulses and you’ll spend your life always looking elsewhere when the door you’re looking for is as obvious as the nose on your face . . . and just as easily ignored.
The early desert fathers and mothers cherished a little saying that kept them centered in the only place God comes to meet us. Here. Now.
“An elder said: If you see a young monk by his own will climbing up into heaven, take him by the foot and throw him to the ground, because what he is doing is not good for him.” (Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert, 96)
If you’re going to be found by God, you’ll be found on the particular ground where you spend your time each day.