Encountering God

How Do You Encounter God?

By Jo-Mae Maris, Webmaster

This post has three goals. First, I want to welcome you to the Faith Blog. Second, this post gives you a chance to experience community online, and third we can glimpse the vastness of God’s presence through discussing how each of us encounters God’s presences.

Welcome to the Faith Blog

The Faith Blog was a feature that the committee designing our website saw as a beneficial addition to our Web presence. In the future, people far more qualified than I will discuss faith, religion, theology, church history, the Bible, and other faith related topics far beyond my expertise.

I claim no great insight or knowledge in those areas. However, I do know that change is difficult. The best way to make a change is not all in ONE huge step, but in small steps so that everyone has a chance to become accustom to the changes. This post is a small step and a HEARTY welcome to OUR Faith Blog.

Experiencing Online Community

You may be well acquainted with the “blogosphere,” or this may be the first time that you have happened upon a blog. “Blog” stands for “Web log.” A “blogger” is usually the person or people who contribute posts to a blog. The “blogosphere” is the collection of all blogs on the Web. The bloggers for the Faith Blog will be the people posting articles in this blog. What you are reading is a blog article or post. Much better posts will appear in this blog in the future.

I am counting on you to make this initial post a success. How can you make an article that I wrote a success? By participating. You can participate by adding your comments concerning this post. However, commenting is not just submitting the first random thought that comes to mind. It is contributing in a meaningful way to the online community that will grow around posts in this blog.

There are some constraints on comments. The Faith Blog is a moderated blog. That is once you submit a comment, it will not appear immediately. First the moderator will read it and approve it or deny it. Only approved comments appear with a post. Also, Faith Blog does not allow anonymous comments. When you create a comment, you will be ask for your name and email address. The email address will not be displayed. It will be used to communicate with you about your comment. The name you provide will be displayed with your comment.

Without a moderator, some unscrupulous person could high jack the blog and inundate it with advertisements or his or her own personal agenda. In a moderated blog, the comments are screened for intrusions from advertisers and zealots by the moderator.

Having a moderator also helps keep the comments on topic. Some of us have a tendency to stray off topic, if some inspiration occurs while we are writing our comments. We will go off on a tangent powered by our insight. When a moderator sees an off topic comment, the moderator may chose to invite someone knowledgeable in the topic to write a new post about the interesting new topic, or email you telling why your comment was not displayed. This allows the blog to grow and explore new topics without destroying the continuity of the current topic.

For this post, I am requesting that you keep your comments to the topic of encountering God’s presences. If you have questions about the website or blogging, email them to me at jomaemaris@gmail.com, and I will answer you directly or create a Techie post related to your question. This request allows our discussion to concentrate on learning more about the varied ways in which we can encounter God’s presence.

How Do You Encounter God?

This is the primary topic of this post. Each of us has experienced God’s presences in some manner. Some encounters with God’s presence come with words spoken from a burning bush, as with Moses [Exodus 3]. Other encounters are fleeting and may go unnoticed, if we are not open to them. It is this wide range of encounters that allows each of us to experience God in our lives. These encounters are worth sharing. They help us get a glimpse of God’s vastness.

In a Reflection on the Sixth Sunday of Easter (2020), Fr. Jim shared how he experienced amazement about God through an elementary school experiment. As a child, he was mesmerized by the way that celery would draw colored water up its vanes. He said that it gave him a sense of awe and wonder. He went on to say that even as an adult, he still has that sense of awe and wonder about the intricacies of God and His creation. Fr. Jim’s story illustrates how we glimpse God’s presence even when we aren’t looking for it.

We can encounter God’s presence in many ways. You may encounter God while fishing. The rhythmic act of fly-casting and concentration on one of God’s creatures, the sea trout, may provide the space for an encounter with God’s presence. I have never experienced that, but more than one fishing guide has expressed the sense of calm and peace experienced while fishing.

You don’t have to be a biblical figure, priest, or fishing guide to experience God’s presence. When you catch a glimpse of dappled sunlight on the floor or ground, do you ever have a little “oh” feeling. This feeling is hard to put in words. It is fleeting and intense without being recognizable as existing. It just “IS” and then it does not exist. I have had that experience. If it were not for the accumulation of such moments over a lifetime, I would not recall them at all. They just are. These are my most common encounters with God’s presence. I feel one every time my husband says, “What a beautiful day.” In that ordinary statement, it is as if he were praising God for the glory of all God’s creation.

You may be wondering why this topic appeals to me, if my encounters with God’s presence are limited to these seemingly everyday occurrences. In addition to the encounters with God’s presence that occur every day were I more attuned to them, I have had a vivid vision. I was twelve and being confirmed by a bishop in North Carolina. As the bishop moved down the line of confirmands, I could see the brown leather oxfords that the bishop wore. However, when the bishop came to me, he was not wearing oxfords. The person was taller and thinner. The person who laid hands on my head was wearing dusty sandals with exposed feet, like those in the paintings and drawings of Jesus. At the next confirmand, the person was again shorter, stockier, and wearing oxfords. This image has stayed with me for over sixty years. This extraordinary vision may be what makes me more interested in the seemly everyday occurrences. I long for God’s presence that I may not always perceive, but I know that He is there.

Now it is your turn. How do you perceive that God is ever present in our midst? Are you able to encounter Him in prayer or meditation? Does music give you a way to encounter God’s presence? Are you a gardener? Does the feel of dirt and plants put you in touch with God’s presence? Is God’s presences suddenly felt while reading a novel? I am sure there are as many ways to encounter God’s presence, as there are self-aware beings. Tell us of your encounters with God’s presence so that we can better glimpse the vastness of God’s presence.

Please, leave a comment sharing how you experienced the amazing presence of God. Remember, your email address is not displayed with your comment; however, the name that you provide is displayed. A moderator will have to approve your comment before everyone reading the post can see it.

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