Renewed sense of God's presence restores peace - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Renewed sense of God’s presence restores peace

Displayed on my computer screen as I write this column Oct. 20 is a photograph of two beautiful 4-year-old girls — my grandniece, Jennifer Grignon, and her best friend in the whole world, Olivia Atkins. Dressed in bright colors, they stand in the sunlight leaning into one another, flashing their radiant smiles for all to see. I cannot look at the picture without smiling.

 

It’s for that very reason that I called up the photo of the two kids just a few moments ago. In the midst of what on most days I would consider a routine morning agenda, I noticed that I was not feeling as much at peace as I would like to feel. It’s hard to describe that fully and accurately but the following adjectives will point you to a sense of what I felt like: tight, pessimistic, alone, worried, totally responsible.

Over the years, I have learned that such darkness and negative direction are things to be resisted because they are not from the Lord’s spirit but from something in me upon which I know that the Lord’s light needs to shine.

At the core of the ways in which I try to counter such darkness is prayer — a time, however brief, in which I ask the Lord to refresh my memory of and to sharpen my current awareness of the Spirit of love present and active in my life.

Cue the girls! This morning their image brought a smile to my face. In the moment the photo of those beautiful children regrounded me in my awareness of God’s faithful love, and reminded me of Christ’s promise to be with us always. This renewed sense of God’s presence brought relief from the influence of the heavier feelings I had experienced earlier, and restored a real measure of peace and freedom to my spirit.

I am quite sure that we all experience moments of heaviness such as I had this morning. They are not the end of the world. They do not compare with the great suffering that some sisters and brothers have to endure. But they do tie up our energies, can set us on paths that lead nowhere, and diminish our sense of gratitude for the gift and the joys of life.

Jennifer and Olivia were a great help to me today because their beautiful smiles jogged my memory and invited me to see life from a healthier perspective than I had been seeing it through the morning. I am deeply grateful to them for all of that and to my niece, Kathleen, for sending the photo to me.

As I write these words I pray for those who will read them, especially anyone who may be feeling blue or otherwise out of sorts. My encouragement is to take some time to ask the Lord to renew in your spirit a lively sense of the daily blessings that are a part of your life. Jennifer and Olivia did it for me today. Take a moment to think about what in your own life might do the same for you.

Peace to all.

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