My first book was published in 2005. As a young girl I dreamed of being a writer, and thought I would author an action spy novel or intriguing time travel adventure. In grade school I could check out a stack of books at the library, finishing them in just a few days. My mother would stare with disbelief at my request: “I need to go back to the library. I’m done.” Sometimes I’d sneak a flashlight into my bedroom to read the last pages of a book under my covers when it was “lights out!”
The book, God … Any Time, Any Place, came as a surprise, even to me! I’m not sure why, since the God I know and encounter always shows up to me in unexpected ways. I think that when we pay attention to the here and now of our life, and listen to the details, we discover inclinations to this or that resulting in something completely unplanned! Thus was this experience I share with you…
My inspiration came from young adults, late one night during a planning meeting for an upcoming spiritual retreat for college students. I shared with the ten student leaders that each of us does little things to nurture our individual, distinct relationship with God. They are those little daily or weekly things that we may not ever speak about to others. I asked the team of ten students to e-mail me their prayer practices as part of their retreat preparation. Over the course of the next week, reading their e-mails, I was incredibly inspired. Their short paragraphs allowed me a glimpse into the unique way we relate to God with very personal activity and language. I was radically touched by the personal practices and ways we each express our unique relationship with God.
This is the question I asked that night, and pose to you now:
What are the little, personal, and even ordinary things I do to connect with God … that I may never talk to anyone else about?
Those initial ten prayer practices were joined by nearly seventy-five others from around the United States. And, a publisher loved the idea of the book! I still have ideas percolating for a novel or adventure story, and when the time is right, know the novel will write itself (with some discipline on my part.) And, I continue to be inspired about the ordinary and personal ways we each uniquely connect with Spirit.
In your reflection process it may be helpful to listen to Henri Nouwen explain: “There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life. Sometimes we seek out a quiet spot and want to be alone, sometimes we look for a friend and want to be together. Sometimes we like a book, sometimes we prefer music. Sometimes we want to sing out with hundreds, sometimes only whisper with a few. Sometimes we want to say it with words, sometimes in deep silence. In all these moments, we gradually make our lives more of a prayer and we open our hands to be led by God even to places we would rather not go.”
Will you consider sharing “the little, very personal, and even ordinary things you do to connect with God … that you may never talk to anyone else about?” through a response to this blog, or with a friend, or family member?
Perhaps we may begin a meaningful conversation, and inspire one another!