Take the positive emotions to prayer.
Such was the advice of my spiritual director yesterday as I described my feelings to her about getting married in just over six weeks. I feel desired and accepted, I said.
Normally the negative emotions are the ones I take to prayer. The stress, the fear, the anxiety. I choose to welcome and experience them fully and then ask God to show me what is going on underneath. Maybe there is a memory or experience that is triggering these feelings and that needs to be healed.
But this time my spiritual director told me to take the positive emotions to prayer. How often do we ponder the moments that are glimpses of the Kingdom of God? she asked as I scribbled hurriedly in my journal. Maybe the moments in which we feel loved by another person are moments in which the Kingdom of God is breaking into our world.
I wonder how it is that I can know more of God through another human being. We, who are frail and broken, are capable of communicating desire, acceptance and love—emotions that speak to us profoundly of something beyond ourselves. Is it possible that the way my fiancé feels about me is evocative of the heart of God?
There is a passage in the gospel of John in which Jesus says that if we have seen him, we have also seen God. How is it that this crying, laughing, sweating, bleeding, eating, drinking Jesus is God? Can God really be seen in the face of a human being?
Later in the same gospel, we read about Jesus making breakfast for his disciples on the shore of a lake after they have spent the night fishing. Peter, the one who just days before had denied that he knew Jesus, jumps out of the boat he’s in when he recognizes Jesus in the distance. There is no hesitation. No shame. He knows that Jesus is waiting for him with open arms.
And I realize that this is the type of God I want to believe in. One who surprises me with breakfast and open arms when I am weakest and most tired. When I have just denied my connection to this God.
Recently I spent the night at my fiance’s parents’ house. In the morning, as I walked into the kitchen, I was met by the scent of the breakfast she was making for me: two fried eggs, toast, fresh tomatoes with feta and basil leaves. And as she handed me a mug of coffee and gave me a hug, I felt Jesus touch me.
These, too, are the moments I now choose to take to prayer. These glimpses of the Kingdom of God that heal and restore. These moments that remind us of our humanity and of our dignity. These moments in which we remember that God became human and communicates with us in very human ways.
God’s made breakfast and is waiting for us.
As we celebrate the season of Advent and anticipate the coming of Christmas, may you know the touch of God-made-flesh in the ones who love you most.