Olly Olly Oxen Free! Where in the World is He?

“Come out, come out wherever you are!”

Nowadays, I feel like this is all I am asking of the Holy Spirit cause I can’t seem to figure out where He has gone! Why does becoming an adult mean that I am in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek with our Lord?

Hide and Seek (Megan)

Photo Credit: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/814818/easy-ways-to-exercise-without-the-kids-even-knowing-it-1

As a 23-year-old recent college graduate, and nervous first-time teacher, I am also struggling to figure out where in the world my relationship with Christ has gone. Why does it seem that becoming an adult means that God has become more difficult to find?

I was a cradle Catholic, attended parochial school, was actively involved in campus ministry, and now am preparing to teach third grade at Catholic school. Doesn’t any of that magically grant me the secrets to spirituality?

Megan and Bro Aren’t my brother and I cute in our uniforms?

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Retreat after retreat, whether I attended or teamed, I heard everything there was to hear about who God is, how to pray, and what a relationship with Him ought to look like. However, when I’m in the real world, I lose sight and it becomes extremely difficult to stick to any sort of routine.

Those “small moments” where I do hear God answering a prayer or giving me a polite nudge to let me know He’s there, they feel like cheats… Like I don’t deserve them because I haven’t been dedicated enough.

Here I am, a trained teacher, preparing to teach children about the foundations of our beautiful faith, and I feel like fraud.

Trees (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Now, I realize I may be sensationalizing a tad. Yes, it may often seem like I can’t find Christ because I don’t “feel” anything—because I don’t feel His Spirit. However, as a local priest once preached at Sunday mass…

“Faith is more than a feeling.”

Faith is not measured by how much or what exactly we may inexplicably “feel.” Faith is truly believing in something greater than ourselves… Something that we cannot see, describe or truly understand.

Faith is an on-going learning experience as we ask questions and better discover who God is and what He is doing in our lives. Are we ever going to fully understand Him? No! Of course not. But I find supreme beauty in that.

As a teacher, I am called to encourage my students to inquire, ask questions and seek out knowledge. God is calling us to do the same things. Just like how we are always learning, even after the schoolbooks are away and all of the homework has been submitted…

God never stops revealing Himself to us.

Ok… So where exactly do I find Him?

Now, I never said it was easy, and I am certainly no expert…

As a Newport Newsian/Hampton Roadsian/CNU Captain, I have been able to seek and find the Lord in some of the following ways:

1. Music

Now, I have plenty of stories about profound spiritual experiences with music on a car ride or as a music minister, but I’ll save those for another post.

Music has always been a huge part of my prayer life. Whether at the mass, retreats, or praise and worship, I have found great solace in the beauty of music and the truth of lyrics. Sacred music is so special because of it’s deep connection to personal experiences, and best of all, scripture.

Bible (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Ever feel at a loss for a prayer before mass or any other moment? Try reading over the lyrics to one of your favorite hymns. I can’t tell you how many times I perused through the pages of Breaking Bread as a child, fawning over the words of classic tunes like “The Summons,” “Here I Am, Lord,” and “O God You Search Me” (all still favorites of mine to this day).

2. Quiet Prayer 

Now, I admit, I am terrible when it comes to praying on a schedule. Every time I dwell on it, I feel supremely guilty… Prayer is what keeps our relationship with Christ alive! Relationships cannot survive without communication.

In the gospel of Matthew, Christ tells us,

When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6 NAB

Quiet prayer is one of the most awkward, but by far the most rewarding things we can do to find and know God. There have been times that I have shut off the radio in my car (which, trust me, is almost impossible for me to do) on a long solitary car trip, and prayed out loud. Starting out, I feel ridiculous as I babble what’s on my mind and in my heart… but then it becomes one of the most freeing and worthwhile moments of my day. Sometimes I wind up in tears! There is something beautiful about that sort of awkward vulnerability.

An easier and less awkward option that I exercise with great frequency is to retreat to a quiet spot in nature; my favorite being the large tree near Lion’s Gate Bridge, a part of Noland Trail.

Lions Bridge (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Sigh… Isn’t it beautiful? I love retreating to this spot with my prayer journal, rosary, Shorter Christian Prayer, or guitar. Staring out at the water, I feel an immense amount of peace. My prayers are able to blossom from ones of adoration for God’s creation to those of petition, asking God for assistance and support in my life.

Haven’t been to the tree before? Try it! You won’t be disappointed.

3. Community

One of the biggest things that I have learned from youth ministry and campus ministry is that Christ is more easily found in community.

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 NAB

The friends I have made in these communities of faith have not only kept me sane, but perpetually point me towards Christ and the path that He has laid for me. These friends have encouraged me, stood by my side, and lifted me up when I was down.Grace Bible (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

If I ever doubt our Lord, all I need to do is to reach out to any of these friends and they reveal to me His face and love once again.

Have any of these keepers? Rejoice! They are worth holding on to, connecting with, crazy Snapchatting… you name it! And when special events are going on in the area like Praise and Pints or Theology on Tap, grab them and head out to some special spiritual formation!

… and if all else fails?

If all else fails… luckily there’s a solution.

Where can we best find our Lord? Why that would be in the Eucharist of course!

Eucharist (Megan)

Photo Credit: http://holytrinitycatholic.org

Receive Him with an open heart at the Mass and fall to your knees in His presence. We are so blessed that our Lord has humbled Himself to join us here on this earth. Never take it for granted.

“Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

If I lie down in Sheol, there you are.

If I take the wings of dawn

And dwell beyond the sea,

Even there your hand guides me,

Your right hand holds me fast.”

Psalms 139:7-10 NAB

VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS!

IMG_1463 Megan Jones – Contributor

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