My experience of God is often one of surprise. It seems that when I open my heart, God finds a way in, often catching me off guard. It was so lovely to read this experience described in the words of Pope Francis this weekend at the beatification of Paul VI:
“This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises.
God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new”. A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness”! …
Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavor to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest – with our feet firmly planted on the ground – and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.”
Truth be told, not only am I surprised by God, I often experience God as a someone with a pretty wicked sense of humor. And sometimes as a trickster too! As in, playful with a good sense of humor and not afraid to call my bluff or play the sneaky Holy Spirit card, calling me to something new before I even know really where I am going.
- The God of surprises led me back to my Catholic faith, through twists and turns and friends, after a ten years as a strident “ex Catholic.”
- God playfully led me to discover my passion for peace through justice, even in the midst of some experiences of pain and grief.
- Another surprising God moment (in an email from my pastor) made me consider that maybe, quite possibly, I had a vocation to religious life
- And then God surprised me by guiding me to a community of fun, faithful, and fearless women who seek to live peace through justice in their daily lives. God led me “home,” to a community of women I have come to love, despite age gaps, diminismhment, or fears, a place where I can be my best me.
- And then, God surprised me with a group of religious life age peers across congregations who make me laugh, keep me sane, and make me love my community even more and believe with all my heart in the (surprising) future God has in store for religious life.
These surprises which led me to the corner of Susan and St. Joseph are ones that keeps on giving. As Pope Francis says, God is continually surprising me, opening my heart and guiding me in unexpected ways. For real … and for that, I am so very grateful!