Bidden or Unbidden
This morning I learned of a friend and colleague, who died of Covid. Jim Pitts was a long time chaplain who encouraged me many times along the way, and whom I loved. While I entrust him to God, the loss takes my breath away, as he was a lively and funny soul.
So I was wondering, again, where God is in the tragedy of 400,000 deaths, a 400 year pandemic of racism and untold deaths, political crisis, and even a new President. In my morning reflection, a saying came to me that I keep close: Bidden or unbidden, God is present. Attributed to Carl Jung, he discovered this ancient Spartan proverb and popularized it. It is a good reminder. I am not one of those who believe that God controls everything that happens. But it does help to know that God is present, when we ask or are unaware.
Our heartbeats are evidence of the divine gift, as is the first conscious breath in the morning—and all the breaths since we slept. A beautiful blue sky and singing birds even in early darkness, remind us that some One sustains us all together. Hot tea and the smile of a friend over zoom is a holy moment. A holiday to remember the prophet Martin Luther King, Jr, people holding a Black Lives Matter banner all day in front of a courthouse are signs of God. In a snow squall over a backyard wedding, in good and bad news, in community and solitude, meaningful work, an extra 30 minutes unprogrammed, a good idea, a good book, telling the truth, hearing anothers' truth, all are presided over by the presence of love.
Even in pandemic death, in democracy, even in countries around the globe seeking change for good, God is present. As we do our best, as we fail, as we struggle, the Holy One is present. When we ask to perceive God, and when we do not, She is here. God is even here in sickness and death, when we remember and when we forget to ask, when we forget. God sees even when we do not. In all of it, bidden or unbidden, God is here with us, in suffering and joy, making every moment holy. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ said it this way “Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.”
Now, with assurance in our hearts, may we perceive--and even bid--the Spirit of Life.
Jan Fuller is the University Chaplain and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.