Just recently I was talking to a 93-year-old Daughter of Charity. She was telling me that the happiest and most fulfilling part of her day was when she spent an hour or so sitting with God. She told me that she couldn't remember a thing that happened during that time but said, "I look at God and God looks at me and we laugh at each other." She also told me that the most important lesson she had learnt in her Religious life was to stay close to God and, in the staying close, to let love form her.
It was for me a very powerful image of entering into the mystery that is God and revealing that mystery by the way in which we love everything around us. This Sister was a wonderfully warm human being caught up in the mystery of God's love and the universe.
It is a mystery that can consume us and invigorate us but a mystery that we can never come to the end of. We can't understand the Godhead with our finite minds but we can experience and enter into relationship with that God.
We can experience a relationship with a creative God, a God who breathes life into the world and into us. The God in whom every creative thought and action has its origin is open to a relationship with us. This incredible creative power – the source of all that is – wants to know us and to love us and, more than that, wants to continue creating within us and through us.
We can experience a relationship with a saving God. Christian tradition tells us that Jesus is the God who saves. "Saves us from what?" you might ask. Well, saves us from ourselves, from bitterness and anger and self-hatred, and reveals the love that holds all things in being. This all-powerful, creative God has become flesh in Jesus and through that becoming has opened the way to life that knows no end.
We can experience a relationship with an in-dwelling God who leads us into the truth of the very essence of who this God is who comes to live within us – and what is the key is time spent gazing at God and allowing God to gaze at us.
This relationship is not saying prayers, filling the space with empty words which make us feel good about having done our duty. It is not words meant to appease a God who demands or to help us get into heaven or avoid hell. It is not about saying this or that novena in the hope that we can get God to change His mind about certain things. It is simply being before God, because God is God.
The invitation at the start of a new year is to open ourselves and experience the life-giving presence of God who is Life-giver, saviour and in-dweller in a deeper way. It will change your life.