Half full, half empty… How many times have we heard that cliché? I guess the answer may depend on what the liquid is: water, milk, beer, wine… prune juice. But, what if I said,
“The glass is full!”
Regardless of the liquid in the glass, the remainder is filled with the contents of the air we breathe. It is mostly nitrogen with some oxygen and a little carbon dioxide mixed in. These invisible gasses are crucial to life. Nitrogen is essential to plant life, plant life to plant-eating animals; like cows, giraffes and vegetarians. Oxygen and carbon dioxide work synergestically to keep plants and animals respiring on their preferred gas. While each element invisibly balances the needs of our earth, to keep us alive, we ponder whether or not we are a pessimist.
To take the cliché a step farther; say the liquid is us, how we live our lives. Let’s face it, some people live water lives while others live like a Long Island Iced Tea. There are so many ways to add interest and variety to our lives, but most of us probably fit somewhere in the tea and coffee to beer and wine arena. But what of the other half; the invisible element which unfailingly and completely fills us? Can scientists, who thrive on questioning and posing hypotheses, prove that the Divine aspect of life is real? Can they come up with an experiment, like a glowing ember inserted into a container, bursting into flame, proves that oxygen is present? They attempt to understand everything from the expanse of the universe down to the most minute hint of matter. The truth of their theories rest on the ability of many to repeat those same experiments and get the same results.
Testing for spirituality stands on a different premise. Rather than large numbers of individuals believing through repetition, spirituality is the many studying information saved over time, resulting in individual encounters with God. The Bible, our church, our traditions corroborate that encounter. Some people undergo a dramatic life changing event. Most, I surmise, learn about God through little, everyday events. This has been my path to faith.
One way I am inspired to trust in God’s presence is through the lives of the saints. Saint Therese, the Little Flower, grew from childish desire to please herself to having childlike trust in God. https://www.littleflower.org/therese/ Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes is another well-known saint to Catholics. She was given the gift of seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. The strength of her faith sustained her through the trials of those who tried to discredit her. https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/february-11-our-lady-of-lourdes/ Saint Teresa of Calcutta dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor. She lived as they lived and died as they died. http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20031019_madre-teresa_en.html The example of holy men and women who have lived before, remind me to look beyond myself, to trust that God is in control, to persevere in difficult times, and to see the needs of others.
One of my favorite Saints, St. Anthony of Padua helps me in a personal way. He is known as the finder of lost or stolen items. https://www.stanthony.org/st-anthony-of-padua/ Through the years, I have found many items (mostly my car keys) through the intercession of St. Anthony. My prayer is something like, “Dearest St. Anthony, I’ve done it again. Could you ask God to help me find my…. fill in the blank.” After praying, I go to whatever place pops into my head and, nine times out of ten, the item is there. Sometimes I remember putting the object there. Other times I wonder how it could possibly be in such a random place, but it is.
Another little way I know that God exists is through the faith and failures of those around me. Especially the failures… they give me hope. They give me hope because, if good people can pick themselves up from epic failures and move on in their faith life, so can I.
Finally, the most powerful way to know that God is real: peace. Like the feeling of the first warm spring breeze on a sunny day or floating lazily down a quiet river. It Is the sound of Cardinals chirping from a nearby branch or children playing happily in the distance. It could be a dog soaking up the sun, a newborn baby snuggled in your arms, or the sound of a gentle rain. Even these images are not peace, they are merely physical shadows of optimism to what peace is.