Find God in all things. Saint Ignatius of Loyola discovered that God is present in every time and place. God has been with us in the past, is present in what we think are mundane realities of everyday life, and will be meeting us as we move moment by moment into the future. As I help my son prepare to leave for college, I wonder, How am I going to find God in all this mess? How can one boy have so many clothes?
“Two more loads and we should be ready to pack up,” I yell over the music video. Tomorrow my son leaves for college, and he is just sitting on the couch. Does he have enough money? Did we teach him enough? I fret as I move the whites into the dryer and pick up another basket of clothes.
“What are you worried about?” he answers.“I’ll pack later.”
Later than what? He must get from the airport to campus, loaded down with an overstuffed bag, and look as if he knows what he’s doing as he hails a cab.He’s got our written directions in his wallet … I think.
He gives me one of those what are you worried about, Mom? looks that he has mastered over the past 18 years.
Two images flash into my mind. One is Siddartha’s father, who wanted to keep his son locked in the past, enclosing the future Buddha in an artificial world where only happiness and comfort exist. The father was trying to prevent fulfillment of the prophecy that his son would experience much pain and become a great spiritual leader. The other image is Mary and Joseph finding their adolescent son in the Temple after three agonizing days of searching, and then listening, dumbfounded, to his explanation: Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s business? Jesus was ready to find God in whatever future he was called to. As protective parents, that’s precisely what Mary and Joseph feared!
Suddenly I think about all those years of teaching my son’s religious education classes while he went through school. In how many Bible stories and lives of the saints do we as teachers and catechists discuss a hero or heroine who takes leave of a comfortable life and sets out on a journey to find God, finds the mission, and takes up the cross? Do we ever think of the parents of all those faith heroes and how they must have worried over their saints-in-themaking? What if more of those parents had succeeded in persuading their children to stay home, safe, out of the way of any cross with their name on it?
What did Mary think as she watched her son grow, with the echo of Simeon’s prophecy in her mind, with her son anxious to get to the work to which he was called? What was her task? I know—she had to let him go. How much faith and praying did that take? I ponder these things in my heart as I fold my son’s laundry and he gets ready to find God in the next stage of his journey.
“Hey,Mom, I’ve got two bags packed.Do you know where my toothbrush is?”
Whose journey is this anyway? I guess I did find God’s presence in all this mess after all.
Julianne B. McCullagh is Director of Family Life Ministry at St.Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville, Texas. She writes the weekly column The Family Life Corner.