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When I pray, when I pray deeply, I move through the day as if every step is a constant prayer. I am always aware of the power of the sacred present. Unfortunately, I am often caught in the "busyness" of daily life. I think of the past or look to the future. Yet, our hearts need those holy encounters where we step into those spaces of transformation. Recently, God's hand gently redirected my being to that place.
I hold weekly office hours out in our churches. We encourage anyone to come in and meet with their diocesan staff or me. We begin with the Eucharist or Morning Prayer. On this day, I was a bit hurried and headed straight for the chapel. As I entered, I was handed a long list of the meetings. I began reviewing the day ahead.
Inside the small chapel were 13 people. I moved a chair, so I was seated close to those in attendance. Seated directly in front of me were a young man and woman in their early twenties. It was apparent they were not familiar with the service. The young man was gentle and attentive to the young woman. She was silent and did not make eye contact as her eyes were fixed on the ground. After the service, a woman who was sitting next to them suddenly spoke up. "This is my granddaughter. She is suffering from severe depression and anxiety. She wanted to be here today."
God enters into our lives gently and purposefully. Each moment of the day, we are faced with a choice; do we enter into a more profound connection, or do we avoid the holy encounter? Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade wrote: "The present moment holds infinite riches beyond our wildest dreams, but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. To discover God in the smallest and most ordinary things, as well as in the greatest, is to possess a rare and sublime faith."
This young, beautiful child of God raised her head, and we looked into each other's eyes. I could see a longing for hope. All those surrounding her looked at her with love, and for a brief moment, we sat in silence. The young woman's eyes began to fill with tears. At the same moment, we both reached out and grasped one another's hands, and we prayed. Those at the service moved closer, and they prayed. It was holy, and light seemingly filled the room, and we entered into a sacred space of transformation. I cannot say how long we prayed, but in the end, all of us had tears. The young woman looked up and said: "thank you." She then smiled.
For the rest of my day, grace filled each meeting and moment. A beauty covered each interaction. I held a profound sense of gratitude for the simplest things: sparrows flitting from tree to tree, the movement of the clouds, the recognition of the breath in my lungs, and the heartbeat in my chest. The knowing that each moment is a gift.
As I retired for the night and in my closing prayer, I read the scriptural passage of the 10 Lepers. 9 were cured, and only one returned to Jesus and gave thanks (Luke 17:11-19). As I began falling asleep, the realization hit me that perhaps I was the Leper who had met Christ. I sat up in bed and whispered, "Jesus Christ, Son of God - thank you. Thank you for the sacred space of transformation.