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St AnselmSometimes it happens during worship service.  As the music soars up into the rafters, I feel a shiver. God is here. But the truth is that I never know when or where I will come to realize that I’m not alone.

The most memorable time it happened was when my husband and I visited Albuquerque.  He wanted mountains, specifically Colorado.  I wanted desert, namely my dad’s hometown Alpine, Texas.  Instead we decided to visit someplace new to both of us that had both.  Albuquerque.

You may be up in the mountains but the space between them is vast.  Several times we stopped at overlooks and just stared.  Before us, stretched more land than we could imagine.  Dark shadows flowed across the landscapes and I realized they were the shadows of clouds.

Everything was so big and spread out so very far. It was impossible not to feel small, but that didn’t bother me because out in the quiet, openness, I could also feel the presence of God.

This wasn’t the tiny image of God that we bring out each Christmas and lay in a manger beneath the tree, packing him away the rest of the year.  This wasn’t the conveniently compressed version of God that some of us keep in our checkbooks, pulling him out when it is time to give to charity.  This isn’t the slightly larger version that we can leave sitting in the pew until we return for him the following Sunday.

The God of the desert stretched beyond the horizon from desert floor to mountaintop and beyond.  This was the God of yucca and eagle and even us gazing across the wide openness. This wasn’t a God you could confine to convenient places and times.  This was an all-seeing, all-knowing force.

In all truth, I can see why so many people choose a smaller version.  It is much easier to wrap your mind around that conveniently compartmentalized God than the version described by Anselm as that than nothing greater than which can be conceived. 

Even now, I know I didn’t see God.  There’s no way I could comprehend all that He is.  But that’s okay.  I occasionally catch a glimpse of something vast and unknowable.


Today’s post is by guest blogger Alice Sherfick Shelton. Alice and I do a little radio show on BlogTalkRadio (Wed. at 3:30 CST). In her regular life, Alice works at Marian University in Indiana.


And so what does it mean to “catch up” with/to God? We are behind God in our understanding of “things,” and that is necessarily very good because it means we have room to grow, and change, and learn and celebrate all of that! But it also means that we can tend to see life as difficult, glasses as half-full, people as broken — and then we allow our focus to drift into negative and destructive spaces.

We let the eye go away from the prize and forget about the ultimacy and eternal nature of God and God’s goodness! God has created this gap! Let’s be mindful of that — and because we believe that God is all good and all purposeful — let’s know that this means that God has, with pointed intention, created a big space in creation for human life! God has created a wonderland and filled it with people who have varied gifts and talents. God expects us to use the whole package as we move to catch up.

I like the gap — I like the space it creates to be inclusive of people and their various journeys and pathways. The space between the creator and the created is a creative space. Our Creator wants us to play, to paint, to imagine, to dream and soar and be open and be positive…and God wants us to love the heck out of one another! Even the crusty parts of one another. God wants us to use this time and this space to soften down the edges.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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