Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I’ll admit it: I’m always looking for signs, something to confirm or deny that I am on the right path and that God is present. In some ways, this seems pretty helpful, especially during times of discernment and discovering where I find consolation in drawing closer to God. On the other hand, I think I often tend to get lost in sign-searching rather than trusting in God, especially in my most uncertain moments. I become so invested in looking for deeper meaning in words and gestures that I forget to see the gift of the moment.
I learned a lesson about this while studying abroad in college when some friends and I traveled to Rome. We were hoping to see the Catacombs before they closed for the evening. We arrived late and missed the last tour and instead decided to chat with one of the tour guides, Martín. He was from the same region of Spain where we were studying and explained that he had left Spain several years earlier to respond to a desire that God was calling him to Rome. After talking for a bit, Martín handed each of us a Greek cross as a small token of our meeting. When we asked what we could do for him, all he requested was that we pray for him, because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was really stunned, partially because of my surprise from the gravity of this revelation and partially because of the vulnerability and humility Martín demonstrated in his quiet but evident trust in—and love for—God. As he spoke, he truly seemed at peace having followed what he believed to be God’s plan for him and knowing that God would take care of him, no matter what.
Later, I found myself thinking about Martín and wondering what was the meaning of this chance encounter. I finally realized that there was a deep significance to this interaction: it was an opportunity to clearly see Christ in another person in a way I had never before experienced. This was something lost on me in the moment, because I wasn’t present to it. I have had many opportunities over the years to reflect on my meeting with Martín, and what always remains is the gift of his example; I must first believe in order to see and interpret the many ways God reaches out to me. For so long, I thought it was the other way around, that I needed the signs to believe.
How is God trying to reach out to me in prayer and through others? Are there opportunities for me to draw closer to God in my everyday experiences? How might I use this time of reflection during Lent to open myself to experiencing God’s presence more fully?
Reflected by Erica Carroll