Moses and God had a unique relationship. I think you might say it was one of mutual admiration. As Moses and his lord worked out details for the trek to the promised land, God only appeared to Moses through a cloud. As plans became finalized, Moses asked if he could see God’s face. To which God answered no; no one can and live. But he did allow Moses to stand in a specified area, covered in such a way so he would see God’s back”. (Exodus 33 NVM)
I have been reading Learning to Pray, A Guide for Everyone by James Martin, SJ. I am almost half way through and have gotten to his explanation of the daily examen. I was not raised a Catholic and for years believed it to be a very confining and strict religion, whose main teachings centered upon feelings of shame and guilt.
I watched my husband respect his mother’s devout Catholic ways, and as I have said in a previous blog, he was a good Catholic boy to his mom. But he had questions and anger along with shame and guilt for having those very doubts. I believe it was something he tussled with on some level until the day he died. And that’s just not the way your relationship with God should be. There is no room for shame in any area of a person’s life; guilt maybe, although I am even less sure about that now.
Enter the teachings and writings of Father James Martin, SJ. I cannot even remember from where he came accept it was getting close to Lenten season one year, and I was looking for some solace and understanding after the loss of my mother from the previous Easter. I picked out Jesus, A Pilgrimage from the bookstore shelf, and my journey into the life of Jesus, the man, those three years leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, began.
As did my reading relationship with Father James who has helped unravel some of the mysteries, and yes, atrocities, of the Holy Catholic Church; he has also shown me the power of the human Jesus and consequently the power of prayer when speaking to the divine, be it with Jesus directly, his mother, or one of the many saints I have read about in Martin’s books.
What a richer, far peaceful, and more tolerant person I have become.
You will see me pass.
An ancient practice from the early Church, The Daily Examen has been adapted a number of ways, but its basic premise is to stop and examine your day and God’s presence in it by being present, grateful, and willing to review every aspect of your day. In this way, you may see patterns of behavior that you appreciate in yourself or that may need to be fine tuned. It’s time spent with God as “ignited” by the Jesuit scholar and saint, Ignatius Loyola, who believed it to be God’s gift to all.
I see value in the examen, which I had learned about before Patrick’s passing, but fell away from in the trenches of my grieving. Martin’s book has reminded me again of its power, however, especially in the many ways God passes through my life everyday. I may be only seeing his back, but in those quiet hours of darkness and silence, or when I am writing in my journal, I recognize His consistent presence in my life.
And it is so very soothing to me: the sound of a mourning dove; soft breathing ; a gentle motion, word or touch.
You will see me pass.
My Bea says when she pictures God, they are a giant heart with two hands, one the color of the night sky, and one the color of bones. I have always pictured God and Jesus as separate entities, both male; I feel closer to Jesus and His teachings than I do to the God of those Old Testament stories, violent and punishable.
So, it was interesting to begin this blog so easily picturing God and Moses struggling to compromise. According to Martin being able to imagine yourself present as Jesus taught, or as Noah built, or as Lot’s wife looked back, is one of the most powerful ways to commune with the Holy Spirit.
I believe it to be so:
Physically he is tall, and yes, for me, male. He is so very gentle in his movements, emphasized by the soft movements of his long coat or robe. It’s dark, and blends in with the night. And while I cannot see his face, it’s turned in such a way that I know he sees, a downward glance, to the right.
You have seen me pass. Take notice.