I went to spiritual direction earlier in the week and had a great conversation with my director Jesuit Brother Chris Derby, SJ. We have been talking much about desire and the need to think about what really brings us joy.
For me that comes from working directly with students and young adults. Before entering the Jesuit residence for my appointment I saw a group of Canisius students entering the chapel for 5pm Mass and it warmed my heart, not only because of their desire to be close to the Lord, but also because it was a weekday. Over at St. Joe’s we have a number of students who get up early and get to our morning mass. Some even say that when they miss it they find themselves out of sorts.
Working with students and young adults in spiritual direction and on retreats has brought me much joy. It’s enabled me to see more clearly who I am as a minister. More importantly, it’s reminded me that I’m in the experience-making business—that all the things we do at St. Joes centers on giving people an experience of the living, breathing God in their midst. Whether it’s a day away at Niagara Falls, a weekend retreat, Sunday or weekday masses or our new community service program…they would all be useless if there wasn’t an opportunity to find God lurking there–waiting for us to find Him in the occupations of our day.
I think that’s what I most try to help students, faculty and others to see–Where is God working in your life?
And in doing so, I often find God meeting me there, helping me see God working in my own.
After direction, I’m often able to see that more clearly, with Brother Chris’ help and at the end of our direction experience, I usually spend just a few minutes in the chapel on the Canisius Campus. The sun was hitting their rose window and in the darkness of the Chapel here is what I saw over the pews.
I found myself thinking about the story of Noah and how God placed his “bow” in the clouds as a sign of a covenant to care for all of humanity after the destruction of the world by the flood. Surely, this was ancient people’s story to explain how God will always care for us and how God promises to do so.
I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being. – Genesis 9:15
Perhaps that’s what I often need to remember as well. In the hectic days of a new semester, I too, need to make a covenant to be with our students and faculty and to be available to them–so that when it seems like they are drowning, I may be a safe harbor for them to land and remind them that God will not let them drown. Instead, God will help provide them with life, if they just notice His presence in their lives.
So where will God show Himself to you today?
Let the adventure of a new semester begin.
And don’t forget to notice the rainbow that always comes after the flood.