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God's loving presence flowing toward us (January 2010)
Friday, January 01, 2010

Children in Southern Sudan. (Ken Gavin, S.J.)

In her recently published book, This Flowing Toward Me, Sr. Marilyn Lacey, R.S.M. urges us to grow in awareness of God’s holy presence pulsing beneath our feet in the ordinary stuff of daily life. Like the astonished Moses before the burning bush, we need to open our eyes and remove our sandals at the realization of God’s nearness to us in the embrace of daily life. Marilyn Lacey, who spent many years working with refugees both in Thailand and the U.S., writes of how refugees opened her to the awareness of God’s presence in the ordinary moments of daily life.

Reflections for Prayer

"In the busy center where I welcomed and resettled refugees from many countries, there were constant comings and going, and I was usually racing from one meeting or deadline to the next. Once day Kwot, a tall, rather dignified-looking man from southern Sudan, asked to see me. 'Sure,' I said, ushering him to a chair in my office. 'I suppose you're here about the loan we arranged . . .,' and then I blathered on for several minutes about the payment details. All the while Kwot sat there, saying not one word. Finally, I realized I was doing all the talking. I brought the monologue to an embarrassed halt. Kwot still said nothing; he just looked at me. Then he smiled and said, 'Sister, Hello.' After another polite pause, he said that he had not come about the loan. He didn’t want anything at all, other than to bring me his greetings because he had not seen me for a while. He was apologizing for not having paid attention to me for a few weeks. I immediately shrank to the size of a brussels sprout."

In her years of living and working with refugees Marilyn Lacey learned the importance of being present to others and how God comes to us in the most unexpected relationships.  Refugees tend relationships because, for many of them, that is all they have. “Everything else has been lost in war and upheaval and flight and long, ‘useless’ years in a new land, without family, without possessions, without money, without even a sense of where they belong anymore in the world, and often without the language to express to new companions either their bewilderment or their hopes.”

Can we allow ourselves to discover our God’s presence in the faces of our world’s refugees, in the embrace of daily life?

Suggested Reading for Prayer

Exodus 3:1-12

Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.

So Moses decided, "I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!" He answered, "Here I am."

God said, "Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.

I am the God of your father," he continued, "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

But the LORD said, "I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering.

Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

So indeed the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.

Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."

But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"

He answered, "I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain."