This month’s blog series focuses on the grace we pray for in the second week of the Spiritual Exercises: to know, to love, and to follow Jesus. Today Stephanie Clouatre Davis shares with us how God’s love is intentional and all-encompassing.
I am standing on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico in darkness awaiting the sun. It’s 5:00 am, and I have found the silence and solitude I so desire in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. The beach is empty and the ocean is bigger than my senses. I smell the salty air as the breeze passes over me. The ocean seems to be saying, “crash, cleanse, courage” followed by, “retreat, rebuild, restore”. Then, it repeats. I feel the shake in the ground and taste the cleansing salt of the air. For me, these waves are an undeniable sign of God’s love moving just for me.
When I climb the sand dune via pier leading to the empty beach, I am apprehensive. I hear the ocean: “crash, cleanse, courage” followed by, “retreat, rebuild, restore” as I approach. I feel small approaching such an all-encompassing power. I think to myself, “go back to where you were comfortable. This is the love of God; this is more than I deserve.” So often we find ourselves retracting at the power of God’s love, but still God calls us (cue Disney’s Moana). The voice of this call is embedded in our very creation.
How do we receive the love embedded in our very creation by the Creator? Part of this reception begins with allowing ourselves to be open and vulnerable with God, our Creator. Scripture reminds us that we long for the Living Water and the Source of this water, Jesus.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. (John 4:10)
Sometimes, I find that we are unaware of this intentionality of love until we discover our thirst for the Creator. We hear the woman say to Jesus later “give me this water” (John 4:15). Like the woman, we desire the waters of life as we sit exposed in front of Jesus. Jesus loves all parts of us in our vulnerability:
- our sin and our glory
- our physical individuality and unique features
- our likes and dislikes
- our unique personality traits and expressions
- our particular desires
- our individual callings
- our capacity to feel feelings
- our capacity to love, create, and think
In my own personal prayer, I like to slow down my understanding of the Creator’s love. Consider the intention of Jesus as he approaches the woman at the well, offering her a depth of love that she had not yet experienced. We are created with a thirst for this kind of love. We are loved from the beginning of our creation and through the winding path of our lives: jobs, relationships, sins, celebrations, sacraments, etc. We are created for a thirst for love because of the Living Water placed inside of us as a part of our creation.
This is undeniable even when our greatest fears and doubts creep in trying to convince us otherwise. Usually fears and doubts use half-truths to convince us of this lie. St. Ignatius invites us to look directly at these untruths and allow the Living Water to offer healing. He suggests giving them no time to fester and no place to reside.
God’s love is intentional like the meeting of Jesus individually with the woman at the well and all-encompassing like a crashing wave. God is both.
God’s love, like the wave, moves toward us crashing into us providing such intimacy that there exists nearly no separation. St. Catherine of Siena speaks of such intimacy in her Dialogue reminding us that “The soul is in God and God in the soul, just as the fish is in the sea and the sea in the fish.” The refreshment of God’s love cleanses us and provides us courage. God’s love gives us retreat to rebuild and restore when the wears and tears of life cover us.
As we come to understand our own creation, we are naturally drawn to love the One who created us. Sometimes though we are hesitant to receive the love of God. We instead deflect God’s love. Like climbing the sand dune amidst the roar of the ocean, we are fearful. God’s love is big, but it is important to remember that God’s love, too, is as gentle as the hands of the potter.
I invite you to spend time this week immersed in scripture reminding you of God’s love for you.
How do we receive this love as it splashes at our feet? How does God help us send out what we no longer need allowing the healing waters to heal and dismiss what is not needed? How do the waves work against us like they do rocks, smoothing out our rough edges?
- Scripture for support:
- John 4:4-42// Jesus meets the Woman at the Well
- Psalm 139// God, you create my inmost self; God, you made me in my mother’s womb
- Isaiah 43:1-7// You are precious in my eyes and I love you
- Consider praying with scripture using Lectio Divina.
- Discovering My Unique Gifts and Call
Photo by Mackenzie Taylor on unsplash.