My oldest memory of God touching my life was when I was eight years old, and I have been living out that relationship ever since. Like all long-term relationships, this one has had its ups and downs, but it has always been a major part of my life.
To be honest, my God relationship marked me as different and odd from the beginning. I did things other kids did not do and although I thought of them as being hidden, just between me and God, others would see and comment. I was the kid who loved going to church and especially loved Palm Sunday and listening to the whole Passion narrative. While my brothers squirmed, I was enraptured.
I have historically viewed my relationship with God as mine, as something God wants with me, as personal and private. When people have asked me about it, especially after outward manifestations of it (like living in l’Arche or with Mennonites), I have had the attitude, “this is my spiritual experience; get your own.” A bit harsh, I know, but I was not comfortable talking about what God was doing in my life. It seemed proud or even false; after all, it was God’s doing not mine.
“But you are doing it,” Jim would say. “I know,” I would reply, “but it is really God’s.” I wanted no credit and would be uncomfortable with getting any credit. It was about God, not me. I have always been acutely aware of my shortcomings and claiming credit for doing something good seemed to indicate I was not aware or that I had forgotten my sinfulness.
In this time of transition in my life, I am discovering new dimensions of my relationship with God. It is as if new pieces of the puzzle are dropping into place every day, and I marvel at how new my old relationship with God feels.
Yesterday was the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret and this quote from his writings spoke to me: “One who burns with the fire of divine love…works to inflame others with the love of God.” I resonated with the “burning with the fire of divine love” part, but asked myself if I had worked to inflame others with the love of God and how I might do that.
St. Anthony Mary Claret is not the first to point out to me that what God gives us is meant to be shared. Today I heard the message a bit clearer and asked myself, “What does God want me to tell of God’s great love for me? What does God want me to share?” I’ll keep you posted.