In past weeks I have taken part in some amazing events –being in an MS Team who won gold in a Dragon Boat festival, paddling across the Inner Harbour watching the sunset and eating ice cream from Fisherman’s Wharf, walking the Guru Nanak Peace Walk with Gordy Dodds, taking part in a moving funeral full of gifted musicians, blessing two delightful guys in their marriage (congratulations Don and Jordan!) and even getting married myself!
I’ve had some time to enjoy the beauty of the Gulf Islands with my new wife, Sabina, as well as lots of travel around the Saanich Peninsula seeing the beauty of this place where we live.
The reason I share this is because each part of what I have taken part in above has been a celebration of places I believe God is found – in community, our own hearts and minds, and in the world around us.
I have had many people over the quarter-century that I have been in this ‘professionally religious’ role say to me “I wish I had your faith,” but the truth is that I don’t have a great level of faith, I am not gifted with being able to move mountains or perform miracles – sadly, it seems I missed the walking on water and turning water into wine classes in my ministry training. I don’t look at the world through faith glasses, or pretend that either I, or the world around are perfect when it is obvious that we are not.
What I do, is allow myself to be open to those moments, and sometimes it is only moments, where I might find God – in others, in myself, in the world. Every act of loving care, every kind word, every connection made with another human being, every moment of enjoying and caring for the earth, every moment where justice is made real, every moment of beauty – in art, dance, music, poetry, prose, in nature, and in relationships – is a place where I am open to seeing and encountering the Divine.
That doesn’t mean that every time I see God in others, or in nature, or meet God in silence or prayer, is a moment of ecstasy and joy – sometimes it’s a challenge to revise my way of thinking and acting. What does it mean, for instance, to try to see God in someone I don’t like, or who doesn’t like me, or who is against me? Being open to seeing God is sometimes being shocked where God turns up!
Finding God is not conforming to rules of religious observance - though I need my faith community to help me understand what it means to live a life in relationship to the Divine. Finding God is being open to the Divine to inspire, transform, challenge, disturb, enlighten, and uplift me in both good and bad times. To give me the strength, the will, and the wisdom to be a part of changing the world for the better.
In learning to find God in the world, I am learning to love more, and to put faith into action by sharing the love of God with all, whether I might think they ‘deserve’ it or not. It calls me to love and care for the earth, and to be someone who continues to learn the value of people, myself, and the ground beneath my feet, the sea around me, and the air I breath. Finding God is easier than you might think, for as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote ‘the earth is charged with God’s grandeur’.
The Ven. Alastair McCollumis Rector of St. John the Divine Anglican Church in Victoria and Archdeacon, Diocese of Islands and Inlets.He has a passion for the Gospel, motorbikes and bike culture, worship, philosophy, theology, guitars, single malt whisky, real ale, cinema and all things French. You can find Alastair at the church website: www.stjohnthedivine.bc.caandon his blog: fracme.blogspot.ca
You can read more articles on out interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, Sept 9th 2019