As I sit down to write this- just after 5 AM on Friday, 8 March, it is after having completed 33 points of my 640-point Lenten Project, GOD 640 .
“What is this GOD 640 thing,” you ask? “I’ve googled it and I can’t find it anywhere.”
GOD 640 isn’t in the google-sphere- yet.
GOD 640 is a home-spun creation that invites one (me!) to pause on the hour, every hour between 5 AM and 8 PM, in the days of Lent and find God in my midst, and record it. (40 days of recording 16 incidents per day = 640.) Tom Brackett, the Mission Developer for Presiding Bishop Curry and an old colleague and friend of mine, calls it “Spirit Tracking.” I call it “God Spotting.”
I decided to do this as one of my Lenten practices to become more aware of God’s constant presence in our lives. I cringe when I hear prayers (some of them that come out of my own mouth) bidding God to come among us. Uh, isn’t God always here? It’s we who need to open our eyes. I also cringe when we (myself included) open a meeting with a prayer to get us out of the starting gate, and then move ahead with our business, sometimes in a fashion in which, if God were visible and standing in the corner, watching, we might not be so proud. I like the model of conducting meetings in which we pause in the middle for prayer (Our Standing Committee is doing that, now- it’s wonderful) or where one member of the meeting takes on the role of watching for the movement of the Spirit in the room and calling attention to it in the pauses of the meeting. God-spotting. Spirit-tracking. If you need to be convinced that God is omnipresent, return to Psalm 139 for some reassurance.
So- this project: GOD 640
Here’s how it works: I’ve set both my wrist watch and my phone alarm to chime on the hour. When it does, I pause, pull out my notebook and record the time, the place, and how I experience God in the moment. Pulling a notebook out every 60 minutes? Isn’t that annoying?!
No- so far (just 33 incidents into this experiment) it’s been rather fascinating to even be conscious of marking time that way. Last night when I was working at home, I couldn’t believe that two hours had passed, me sitting in the chair on my computer, responding to not one but two different chimes in that work-session! I remember, years ago, asking a monk friend of mine what it was like to always be running to the chapel to pray the hours- before dawn prayers, early morning communion, noonday prayer, midafternoon prayer, etc. “Isn’t it annoying? Isn’t it a distraction,” I asked? He just smiled.
To the meat of it all: Where’s God?
I’ve noticed, in these early days of practice, some themes:
- It’s easy to default to God in nature. (I spend a lot of time driving in our beautiful countryside)
- Many of my recordings have to do with how I’m feeling at the time. ie: I know that God is here because I feel comforted, safe, confident, protected, strong.
- Not one to believe that God micromanages our every move, I’ve been a little surprised to learn that I’ve noticed God’s presence in… my safe arrival on a road trip, others’ safe passages to a meeting spot, etc.
I had one moment (pulled off to the side of the road traveling home from State College) in which I just couldn’t summon words for God’s presence. I wrote: “1 PM. In car en route to Harrisburg. God is… hiding? I’ve pulled over. Blue skies.” I also found that I’ve developed a set of questions to ask myself when I am initially “stumped” in spotting God: “Where is Love? Where is goodness? Where is beauty?” This seems to help.
Here are some of the words that stand out in the sentences that I’ve recorded about my God-spotting in this early part of my Lenten experiment:
Freedom, relief, care, comfort, feeling cradled, still, quiet, peace, charity, soothing, courage, grounding, strength, confidence.
Finally, three times, I noted God’s presence in Holy Laughter. Three times, in the past 33 hours of recording God’s presence, I was in the middle of a good laugh with someone when the alarm went off. What a blessing. God is in laughter, indeed.
On to the 34thhour, friends.
Be well. More next Friday.
Share some of your own God-spotting adventures in the comments section.