I grew up in a household in which reflecting God’s goodness was a goal. Not that we always managed it! But we knew it was our reason–everyone’s reason–for being. My dad was particularly exemplary. From birth onward he trusted God. Born dead, lifeless, laid on the floor, he most unexpectedly surprised the doctor and all by letting out a wail when his aunt who’d just entered the scene exclaimed vehemently, “God is his life!” And he continued living vivaciously all his days. I never observed a minute in his life when Dad did not trust his well-being, decision-making, and problem-solving to God. He was remarkable. I could tell many stories from his life but they won’t fit a posting. Suffice it to say, he expressed love and everyone who knew him felt it, from an assembly line worker at one of his plants to a child in his Sunday School class. Love was the guiding principle behind all he did.
Reflecting God who is Love leads to an unselfish life, connects us to each other. Like rays reflecting the sun, we innately reflect Love when we understand our true spiritual nature. Knowing who we are as God’s image and likeness, our thoughts and actions reflect the peace, kindness, caring, truth and beauty that originate with God. Ignorant of God’s qualities that are ours by inheritance, our real selfhood is hidden like sun’s rays behind dark clouds. But even in the blackest storm we know the sun is still there. Just because we can’t see it shining doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So, too, we are God’s reflections even in troubling times. We part the clouds of despair by faithfully adhering to expressing who we really are as reflections of God. We are capable of exemplifying goodness, humility, love, truth, honesty, courage, kindness, generosity, unselfishness, clarity of thought, mindfulness.
There is an inspiring little book that serendipitously entered my life when I was in seminary, entitled The Practice of the Presence of God and The Spiritual Maxims consisting of conversations and letters by a 17th century lay Carmelite monk known as Brother Lawrence, an “unlearned” man, previously a footman and soldier, who came to understand that being at one with God is everything. Aware of God’s omnipresence, he went about his daily activities and business “resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions.” He “renounced, for the love of Him [God], everything that was not He [God].” He explains: “I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of God. . . I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.”
Brother Lawrence’s spiritual and practical wisdom flows throughout this little book which I read often. There are other books that also remind me of who I really am, who each of us is, as God’s children, how to reflect God in all that we think and do. Fitting some reading, mediation, and prayer into each day keeps me on track. Though occasionally hours in such practices is enriching, we do not need to take time beyond what suits our day. As Brother Lawrence says: “It is not necessary for being with God to be always at church. . . The time of business…does not with me differ from the time of prayer: and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen while several persons are at the same time calling out for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”
I remember saying to my dad one time when I was a very busy mom with three young children, Newfoundlands to raise, art students to teach, painting, competitions to enter, and a large home to care for, that I was frustrated that I didn’t have the time I needed to read and pray. His answer to me was: “You mean to tell me you don’t have time to declare the presence of God while at a stop light?!” His point was well taken, as his points usually were. Both Dad and Brother Lawrence remind me that no matter what I’m doing, I can reflect God.
Artwork: Light Reflections from Pemaquid Ridges, matted. shrink-wrapped watercolor, 20″ x 17″ $575. How many times I have painted at Pemaquid! Constantly varied and lovely, a new view presents itself every time I paint there. This one included reflections of light.