My experience of God has been, consistently, that God shows up most fully during our hardest times.  For me, God’s presence was tangible during our horrible family crises that started ten years ago and really became more manageable for most of us five years ago.  During those first few years, especially, when every day it was a challenge to get up, to breathe, to put one foot in front of the other, God’s presence was so real and so powerful that it gave me a rock to cling to, an anchor to ground myself and my kids, a life-force that made it possible to face each day.  Without that, I do not know how we would have come through with the strength and healing that is part of who we are today.  I have seen many people become embittered by the experiences of life.  But for us I think we are more compassionate, more gentle in our approach to the pains and struggles.  Again, this could not have been the case without the love, the presence, the compassion of God that made itself manifest in so many different ways: through people, through nature, through art and music, through the “coincidences” and “serendipities” that touched us daily at first and then spread out more as we needed them less.

    I think that God always shows up most strongly for those who are struggling the most which is why God can consistently be found among the poor, among the oppressed.  If we want to really meet God we must choose to be with those people, helping, uplifting, empowering.  That is where we will and do experience a living God.  It’s the story of the mother who is asked “which of your children do you love the most?”  to which she answers, “the one who is most in need of my love.”  God’s love is like this, too.  I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, I’ve lived it.

         We are in another such time.  Sleepless nights, stress, strain, struggle and pain.  Decisions that must be made, steps that must be taken, disappointments that must be faced, inventory that must be taken, amends that must be made, and amidst it all the growing questions of purpose, meaning, call, and existence.  This is reality for me at this moment.  And, just as before, God is showing up again in incredible, amazing, tangible ways.  Yesterday it was in the form of words.  I tend to begin my mornings with puzzles as I eat my breakfast.  Yesterday as I ate I did several cryptograms, which is a puzzle where you figure out an encoded quote.  Each of the quotes that I decoded felt like a personal message, a gift from God.  Then later we decided as a family to re-watch the movie “Wall-E”.  It’s a really good movie and one I think that I may show for a faith and film night at some point.  At the end, during the credits, they play a Peter Gabriel song “Down to Earth” and these words, too, hit me in a new and specific way.  I’m posting some of yesterday’s wisdom here for you, then.  These words spoke to me in specific ways which I realize will not be the same for everyone.  The specifics of what they meant for me are not important.  I hope that they will offer wisdom to you for wherever you are in this moment.

    “A mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker.  A mistake is a lesson not a loss.  It is a temporary necessary detour, not a dead end.”

    “Learning comes in three distinct phases: as a young child one hungers for knowledge, then as a teenager one knows it all, and finally as an adult the real learning can commence.”

    “Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind (sic).  It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man (sic).” – Mahatma Gandhi.

    “At your best you still won’t be good enough for the wrong [one].  At your worst, you’ll still be worth it to the right [one].”

And from the Peter Gabriel song:

Did you think that your feet had been bound
By what gravity brings to the ground?
Did you feel you were tricked
By the future you picked?
Well, come on down

All these rules don’t apply
When you’re high in the sky
So come on down
Come on down

We’re coming down to the ground
There’s no better place to go
We’ve got snow up on the mountains
We’ve got rivers down below

We’re coming down to the ground
To hear the birds sing in the trees
And the land will be looked after
We send the seeds out in the breeze

Did you think you’d escaped from routine
By changing the script and the scene?
Despite all you made of it
You’re always afraid of the change

You’ve got a lot on your chest
Well, you can come as my guest
So come on down
Come on down

Like the fish in the ocean

We felt at home in the sea
We learned to live off the good land
We learned to climb up a tree

Then we got up on two legs
But we wanted to fly
Oh, when we messed up our homeland
And set sail for the sky

We’re coming down

Comin’ down to earth
Like babies at birth
Comin’ down to earth
Redefine your priorities
These are extraordinary qualities

To find on earth

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