Are You Absorbed in God?
“Be absorbed in God. His blessedness of joy, love, and charity are yours. Pray to be a fisherman of souls.” ~ Cora Evans
In the first, posthumous publication of her writings, The Refugee from Heaven, Cora Evans recounts the life of Jesus Christ as an eyewitness. With a fresh perspective and renewed insight, the reader once again listens to His everlasting words of Divine counsel.
Be absorbed in God.
“ 'Let me seek him whom my soul loves.’ I sought him but I did not find him. The watchmen found me, as they made their rounds in the city: ‘Him whom my soul loves—have you seen him?’ Hardly had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go.” - Song of Songs 3: 2b-4
When I was a little girl, I frequently got absorbed in a vast array of thoughts: riding horses on a ranch in Montana; memories of my great-grandmother’s aluminum Christmas tree glistening in evening twilight; whether or not I’d get married and have children. Countless ideas streamed in my consciousness throughout the day to the extent I was called a daydreamer. It’s true that my mind wandered into faraway places, dreams, or nostalgic memories.
As time passed, I shifted my daydreaming to more sublime thoughts: would I go to Heaven one day or Purgatory first; how could I forgive the friend who betrayed me and then died of a drug overdose; did miracles still exist in our ordinary lives? This initial thirst for the Living God transformed into a deep ache, a longing for closeness with Him. Over time, I began to pray after receiving the Eucharist, “Jesus, as I consume You, please consume me.”
Absorption and consumption are akin in this way: both require total immersion in the one thing necessary, which is to say: knowing, loving, and serving God wholeheartedly. As we advance in our faith, the first curious pinings of youth give way to more mature yearnings for total union with Him whom our heart loves.
We seek Him, but He remains elusive at times. It seems the Lord wants a lover’s tryst with us, but even more, He wants us entirely. It seems radical to give oneself and all one contains – the will, the body, the soul and mind, the personality and preferences, the emotional brokenness and historical baggage – to Him. But we can be nothing less than a total gift to God. We must be absorbed in Him, and this requires a revolutionary reformation from who we are into who God desires for us to become.
“…The Holy Spirit warns us that God is not found in the commotion, that one seeks him in vain in the streets and in public places; that it is in solitude that he speaks to the heart of his spouse, which is to say that he makes her not only to hear, but also appreciate his lessons.” - St. Claude de la Colombiere
Absorption comes in many forms these days: Internet gaming, online shopping, marathon Netflix streaming, binge eating, work-a-holism, various other “isms” and addictions, busyness in general. Our modern culture thrives on such things, doesn’t it? Seems we must always be striving for more, better, faster, bigger. The reality of a settled soul, however, is when we stop striving for the world’s enticements and begin to listen to the still, small voice within.
God is not found in commotion. We do not serve a God of chaos but of order. I think often (and especially when I am educating my small girls) about the Creation Story in Genesis and how God made everything in a specific order and at a designated time. Nothing was left to happenstance; every detail was deliberate, an intentional act of love. Creation itself is a supreme act of love, isn’t it?
Why not, then, search for God in the midst of His creation? It is everywhere, even if you live in a bustling city with few trees or birds. Find those pockets of natural beauty, and bask in the wonders therein. I never tire of finding God’s clandestine kiss in the unfurling of spring’s first crocus, the flutter of a passing butterfly in summer, the gentle fall of rusty-colored autumn leaves, and the quiet rest of winter snow.
The treasures of creation bespeak unfathomable ways we can learn to become absorbed in God and turn away from the clamor of the world, if only for moments each day. Learn to listen to the stories God wants to share with you in the natural world.
His blessedness of joy, love, and charity are yours.
“…You are precious in my eyes.” - Isaiah 43:4a
Do you find it difficult to believe that you are a beloved son or daughter of God? I do. I always have. I’ve always loved God, but I’ve carried within me this wounded heart most of my life. As a child, I thought this wound was the result of my sin, but decades later, I understood the difference between sin’s wound and love’s wound.
Love’s wound carries a surreal burden. There’s a deep responsibility in learning to love as God loves me. To remember that I am His beloved is not contrary to turning to those in my life with the same cherished affection. As I grow into my faith, I learn that this responsibility of love is onerous, yes, but with a certain and unfamiliar levity, too.
Learning to love myself and others often leaves me stupefied as to how such a burden and such immeasurable joy can comingle without much differentiation. The heart’s wound may be weighed with another person’s suffering; this is love. The pain of the heart may result from sharing in a widowed neighbor’s loneliness; this is also love. But the pain also comes in the form of euphoric celebratory laughter when a friend becomes cancer-free. Or when the couple from your parish welcome their first child after over ten years of struggling with infertility.
In all things, there is both the blessedness of love and joy; perhaps together they amount to the virtue of charity. And where charity prevails, so does God.
“Love is selfless. The way into the Heart of Jesus is not through intellectual insight, not through glowing emotion, but through learning to pay the cost of pure love. There is sacrifice involved in letting others be themselves.” - Sr. Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.
Love hurts, it seems, because it requires so much of us. It is costly. For those who ride on the wings of emotion, love is fleeting and fickle. One day they may “love” their spouse, and years later, cite a lackluster love as reasons for divorce. To many, love only asks that we find commonalities, chemistry, camaraderie. To most, love does not entail suffering.
But we know, as Christians, that love demands a type of spiritual accountability that is difficult, but not impossible, to accept. I cannot live as I wish, doing whatever pleases me in the moment. I cannot ignore the crying infant, the penniless poor, the grieving widow. I cannot neglect the needs of my brothers and sisters as I pass them, whether or not they are strangers to me. No, love demands that I pause, listen, and encounter them in such a way that they know they are not alone.
If you wish to walk the path to Heaven, first make a practice of this pausing and listening. You will discover a quiet cadence that becomes the underpinning of your life: pause and listen; encounter and love. It seems simple, but it will require much of you: your time, sometimes your sleep, many times your comfort. But love isn’t comfortable. And if you truly desire the blessedness of love and joy that God wants to impart, then you must also journey the long and lonely roads of suffering to get there.
Pray to be a fisherman of souls.
“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” - Ephesians 2:10
Most of us are familiar with the call of the first disciples, Simon (Peter) and Andrew, who were fishermen-brothers. I imagine Jesus approached them on an ordinary day of work as they casted their nets across the Sea of Galilee. They weren’t expecting a commissioning, certainly not from the Messiah.
Yet there Jesus was, lingering behind them. He knew where to find them, and He knew exactly how to call out to them so that they would drop everything and follow where He led. So He used the fishing metaphor to tell them, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
I’m not a fisherman, and you likely aren’t, either, but we can understand the depth of this vocational work, can’t we? St. Teresa of Calcutta called it a “call-within-a-call.” It’s not necessarily what you get paid to do or what your college diploma says you can do. It’s not always entirely the fact that you are a religious brother or sister or married, with or without children (though that is certainly your primary vocation).
Receiving our own commissioning is a lot like losing yourself in the vast ocean, becoming one of the multitudes of fish teeming under the sea’s currents. We must forget ourselves entirely before we can hear the answer to our heart’s desire, which was planted by God long before the thought streamed into our consciousness.
Praying to become fishermen of souls is to fulfill our vocational mission by way of our particular strengths and even through our weaknesses. God uses all of us if we allow Him to. For instance, part of my “call-within-a-call” is to be a writer, and I do this without knowing how or when or why God will touch the souls who read these words. I simply respond to His beckoning and trust that the words forming into sentences will reach into the depths of at least one person – to encourage, to inspire, to uplift.
Your vocational mission probably differs from mine. But we are all these little guppies in the ocean, all following the pulse of the waves that lead us back home. And home is where we are grounded, able to clearly identify what God is asking of us. As a guppy, I am in the same ocean as you. We swim side by side, in tandem, not in competition. Use your gifts for the good of souls and for God’s glory, and you will discover that losing yourself means you have gained the company of angels, saints, and saints-in-the-making.
“God is writing an original script with each of our lives. He’s not writing a remake or adaptation of someone else’s life but something never before written. Through each of us, God wants to open up countless possibilities of saying yes for all who come after us. Never underestimate the power and fruitfulness of your yes to God!” - Katrina Zeno
Don’t try to be someone else. An unfortunate cliché, it rings true, at least for me. As a writer, I often find myself amidst the company of other established authors and even some publishing bigwigs. It’s intimidating. At times, I wonder, “Why can’t I write more like so-and-so?” These thoughts come to the fore immediately following another author’s big win as a bestseller in their particular genre or from a particular literary contest.
Once again, I feel like that guppy among the “big fish.”
But maybe being a guppy is where I’m supposed to be, after all. The same is true for you. When I forget myself, I am at peace, because I am focused on God and on the mission He has asked of me. In turn, I remember that my writing is a unique imprint of my heart. In order to be my best self, I cannot be chasing after someone else.
When you say yes to God, He will do the unfathomable through you, if you allow Him. All of your scars, wounds, brokenness He will use for great things, perhaps things that have never before been done. But instead of chasing greatness, become content in your littleness. Dwell in the hidden coves in the deep waters of the ocean. Spend time with God there, in your heart, before you leap to do something you deem worthwhile.
If you do this, and do it regularly, you will resurface from your little cave under the sea, and you will happily swim with the big fish, forgetting that you are small and incapable and unworthy of the assignment you’ve been given. Instead, you just might unknowingly change the lives of the big fish along the way.