Today I find myself grateful for the gift of email. Before you snort your coffee and think I’m being a special brand of sarcastic, let me invite you to read on. Jurell Sison emailed me out of the blue, proposing that he share a reflection with my readers. After reading it, I couldn’t say no. I hope you enjoy it too!
God as Mystery, God as Neighbor
Yesterday I woke up and something very strange happened. It was a normal day, just like any other, but for some reason I was jolted with some unexpected thoughts about life and death.
I hopped in the shower and a series of unanswerable questions swept my head space.
What actually happens to us when we die? What exactly does God do all day? What/who the heck is “God”?
The questions simply led to more and more (random) questions. And after living so many years, I’ve to come to the unfortunate realization that sometimes there is no concrete answer. I’ve been told by my professors that it takes a lot of intellectual maturity to accept that some things will always be a mystery—sometimes there is no answer.
Sometimes all we can do is enter into the mystery.
Having just finished my journey through Ignatius’ spiritual exercises, I was struck most by the final contemplation on the love of God. Opening my mind to the actions of God in the world, I found myself so overwhelmed. The only word I could use to describe it was mystery.
In my prayer, I surrendered to the contemplation allowing my mind to run through all created things: from the most sublime galaxies of the cosmos to the tiniest of potato bugs. It was then that I got a taste of God’s mysterious love. Ignatius makes it very clear that love is not about the words spoken but deeds done. Love is about action and God is constantly “in action”—constantly falling deeper and deeper in love with creation.
I was in awe of God’s love, seeing God in action, everywhere and in all things. I experienced God laboring within me and for me. However, this “God” was so big, so sublime, and so mysterious that I did not know what to do or where to start. It was as if I realized what/who God actually is and I was left paralyzed.
I started my prayer by acknowledging this sublime and mysterious presence flowing through me. And I remember praying one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever prayed. I said humbly,
“I want to know you so badly.”
I kept repeating it, humbly and then God said:
“You are knowing me
…as you get to know yourself
…as you get to know your neighbor.”
Indeed, God is mysterious—even paralyzing but we are constantly invited to know God as we know ourselves and our neighbor.
Jurell Sison is Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at St. Ambrose Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys writing, making videos, reading Catholic theologians, Ignatian Spirituality, and keeping up with all things Pope Francis. You can see more of his work at www.jurellsison.com.