I often hear people proclaim, “God is everywhere.” Those who argue against the existence of God maintain this cannot be proven, and indeed, they are correct if they view life from a purely logical, intellectual perspective. In fact, from this perspective, it would be just as easy to prove that “God is nowhere.” I personally don’t feel the need to either prove or disprove the existence of God. For me, it is the intuitive internal heart within that senses God—in the form of Pure Love—which is all around us as well as within us.
I believe it is possible to find Love everywhere. It may seem to be a paradox, but even in the face of unspeakable evil, you can find Love. The movie “Lone Survivor,” a true story of the war in Afghanistan, is the most difficult movie I have ever watched. The violence and ugliness it portrays of human behavior are almost unbearable—until the end when an Afghan villager risks his life, his family’s lives, and his entire village to save one American solder. This act of pure selfless Love brought me to tears.
There are many seeming paradoxes that exist within Christianity. For example, in the bible Jesus says, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first,” (Matthew 19:30); “if you want to be rich then give away all that you have,” (Matthew 19:21); “he who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to nothing for my sake discovers who he is,” (Matthew 10:38); “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” (Luke 6:27); Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back, (Luke 6:30); and finally “if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24-26). The last thing Jesus did, which we celebrate on Holy Thursday before Easter Sunday, was to wash the feet of his disciples as an example of humility and service. To the logical mind, this is a ludicrous way to live, and certainly not the path to success nor even the path for survival.
But I believe the teachings of Jesus enable us to manifest heaven right here and now on earth, and go far beyond the limited ideas we have of success and survival. The words of Jesus call us to live from our hearts, and in this way, to live fully. In heaven (as on earth) there is no place for anger, hatred, revenge, cruelty, envy, or spite. All humans need and are starving for love, both to give and to receive, and to feel a sense of belonging. Love is the foundation of all that is important in life.
Life is not meant to be an uninterrupted flow of words, external noise, and the pursuit of material wealth and possessions, all of which is finally silenced by death. This famous parable, to which St. Francis would often refer, says it beautifully: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
The essence of life is Spirit, and is nourished in the quiet spaces of prayer, contemplation, and nature. God’s presence in our lives and in the world is felt mostly in our expressions of the virtues of charity, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and love. For what we say on Easter Sunday is, “Death is swallowed up in victory, life is liberated, and love has won.”
Pope Francis recently said, “We have observed that, in society and the world in which we live, selfishness has increased more than love for others, and that men of good-will must work, each with his own strengths and expertise, to ensure that love for others increases until it is equal and possibly exceeds love for oneself.”
I’ll close with this thought: We see God both through and in Nature, which moves in God’s order—yet in Nature, there are few straight lines or perfect squares. What we often see in life as order (really the need to control or to think you are in control), God-in-Nature sees as limiting, and what we often see as confusing God-as-Nature sees as order. The paradoxes of God offer us opportunities for contemplation and reflection, and can help us to stay the course of love and compassion for others and ourselves as we navigate the complexities of life.