Last night I chanced upon a Youtube video in which Bishop Robert Baron reflected on how Christians are living with the present quarantine measures. He made this important point: we now have time to be alone with God and face some important questions about life and faith like “Does God exist?” Why am I here?” and “What is my life for?” Instead of dealing with these serious questions, we often allow ourselves to be distracted by life’s many diversions like going out for entertainment and shopping, gymming and exercising constantly, surfing the web for hours to binge-watch, or engaging in never-ending whatsapp messaging. Yes, we now have more time alone with God to reflect on these questions, he encourages. And we should.
Being alone and having more time is also, I want to suggest, how God is forming us to be more attentive about the various ways God comes to us and attends to the different needs we have. I’d like to suggest this how God is forming us to be more intimate with Him through the quarantine measures at this time. We hear echoes of this in Melinda LeBlanc’s reflection “God the Great Baker“.
“These days may be unsettling and uncertain, but we can be assured that God is with us, faithfully providing reassurance and love. My reassurance came recently when I decided to bake bread.
Like so many others, I am confined to my home as a preventative measure against the coronavirus. It has been more than a month now, and I have cleaned, purged, organized, and rearranged everything in my house. Then a wave of boredom swept over me. It was then I got the distinct urge to bake bread. I found a recipe calling for ingredients I had handy. The bread would take four hours and 15 minutes from start to finish. Well, I certainly had the time!
Baking the bread was a labor of love. I observed the yeast come to life as I added warm water and sugar. I carefully measured the other ingredients and watched a dough form. Just minutes ago, this ball of dough existed as separate ingredients in my pantry. Now it was ready to become something more, something bigger than its parts. After kneading, I carefully placed the dough into a bowl to begin the long process of rising. It would take three hours and two more kneadings before I put the risen dough into the pan to bake.
Forty-five minutes later, I peeked into the oven, bracing myself for either a raw mess or burnt toast. But to my surprise, I saw a loaf of golden-brown bread. I remember feeling relief and joy at seeing my finished product. “Look what I did,” I thought. I was delighted as I sat at the table with my husband and we shared the first piece of hot bread.
It wasn’t until the next day (while I ate another slice), that God gave me a moment of consolation and clarity. In that moment, I saw the bread as my life and God as the Baker. Just as all the ingredients came together to become bread, all my experiences, my highs and lows, successes and failures, have all come together to make me who I am. Even though my bread wasn’t the most perfect loaf, it was beautiful and perfect in my eyes. In that moment of consolation, I felt reassured that I am continuously formed and nurtured by God and that God is pleased with me as God’s creation in a much more infinite way than I am pleased with my creation of bread.
Like the Lord did for the disciples at Emmaus, God came to me “in the breaking of the bread.” In that moment, I felt God’s presence deep in my heart. I now have a new image of God. Along with Shepherd and Potter, I saw God as the Great Baker — a Baker who takes great care and joy in continually creating and nourishing me.
May your stay-at-home days afford you the opportunity to connect with God through whatever fills your days, be it painting, gardening, reading, or even baking bread.”
[Source: Ignatian Spirituality]
God gave me a moment of consolation and clarity. Melinda’s experience of experiencing God’s faithfulness consoled her. It also helped her to understand more clearly who God is and how God labours in her life for her good and happiness. Throughout this Circuit Breaker time, God has also come to each of us with great fidelity and for our own good. I believe we have come to know Him and His good actions for us in new ways. Perhaps, we are now seeing God more clearly than we did before.
Take some time to prayerfully reflect on your experiences of God during the Circuit Breaker thus far. Here are some guiding questions to help you do this:
a) Look back at the past few weeks when you have been at home, and perhaps, more alone with God. How has God come into your life? Is there a pattern of how God comes to meet you?
b) From the different times and ways you have experienced God’s love and care for you during this time at home, what about God and God’s actions console you? Can you find an adjective to express your consolation?
c) As a person with SSA, does it matter to you that God encountered you and continues encountering you? Why so?
Words of Encouragement
Let us pray that we may be open to the God of surprises, and find in each surprise the face of a God who loves us immeasurably.