(Below are some of Father Mangini’s reflections, which he posts in the spirit of encouraging sharing and discussion in the comments at the end of the page.)
As I turn 80 years old, I wonder first of all how I got to 80. From time to time over the years, as I attended someone else’s 80th, I could not imagine what it would be like reaching that age. Pastoral work consumed many years. All of a sudden, it was my 50th anniversary of priesthood, all of a sudden, I retired from the work of the Parish Pastor, and three years later, I have reached 80.
This morning, I was reflecting upon how wonderful it is to be awakened at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. some mornings, to sit quietly with God, with the presence of Jesus, letting my mind and heart wander, thinking and praying for many people in many different situations. Taking the time in a restful and unhurried spirit provides such richness and comfort.
At this point of life, I am more conscious of the connection and interrelationship of everything and everyone. The very Being of God dwells and is present in all things, animals, peoples and calls me to a more profound adoration of God who is everywhere and in all that is created.
So my soul has entered into the cosmic experience of God, which Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr so often writes about. I can see and appreciate the presence of God in color, in paint, in art, in textiles, in floors and ceilings, in art crafted from God’s inspiration in artists, in literature, in lamps and light bulbs, in wood carvings, in beautiful ceramic forms.
Yes, I am very aware of God’s presence in the Holy Eucharist, the Gospel, the Scriptures, the Sacraments of the Church, but there is so much more for us to appreciate. The universe is a museum and treasury of God’s presence.
As I enlarge my appreciation of who and where God is, I learn to appreciate God’s revelation everywhere. I let my heart embrace and open itself to a larger experience of God, without limits.
For centuries, we were accustomed to separate ourselves as Roman Catholics from other religious traditions, believing in somewhat of a foolhardy way, that we were better, more informed and superior. Today, we are beginning to appreciate how we are brothers and sisters, all with different appreciations of our importance to one another and of our interdependence. I believe it is essential to appreciate the truth and the wisdom in the multiple and varied expressions of God’s revealed experience in the natural experience and wonder of life itself. That revelation is a beautiful and marvelous tapestry for us to appreciate and in which to feel God’s consolation and presence.
I have more time to ponder the mysteries of life and to be led by the Holy Spirit. I feel enriched by such spiritual exploration which God encourages.
What about you? How has God enriched your life? What is God inviting you to explore? Have you let God out of the box that you have kept God in? Are you afraid to let yourself go with God? Is there more light, more love and more goodness? What are you thinking? Where does God want you to follow?
Sitting with God opens us to the wonders of God.