Last night my parish began a five session adult education series featuring DVD presentations by Marcus Borg, entitled "Embracing an Adult Faith." The topic for the first session was "God." I was moved by the reflections people shared about their experience of God's presence and absence in their lives. I was heartened to hear of their hunger for God. I was blessed to learn from them.
In the course of the evening I was reminded how rarely - even in church - we make space for such conversations. There are so few places where people can speak of their deepest spiritual longing and experiences. This dearth of opportunities to express and explore our desire for God conditions us to ignore that desire, to think it odd or insignificant, and to direct our attention to other "more important" concerns.
Absent support for our perception of God's presence and grace operative in our lives, our capacity to realize our desire for God is diminished, if not altogether hobbled. We need practices, rituals, disciplines that remind us of our deep hunger and train us to attend to God. I was so bold as to suggest last night that this might be one of the reasons to come to church on Sunday morning! That is true, but only to the extent that our worship is actually focused on fostering relationship with God.
One other thought: I began to wonder last night if the problem of evil isn't really the problem of our inattention to God's presence in our world. It has been my experience that when I am most in touch with my desire for God, I am least likely to contribute to the fund of evil in the world. I suspect there is a direct relationship between our direct contact with Reality and the flow of compassion in the universe.
The secret of Christian contemplation is that it faces us with Christ toward our suffering world in loving service and just action. - Saint Catherine of Siena