“If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it [to be clean and cured]? - 2 Kings 5:12
I am a retreat addict. I am drawn to transformative experiences and get high on helping people encounter God. These special moments occur, more often than not, on retreats or service trips. I have a tendency to look for God on mountaintop experiences, in the dramatic, through the extraordinary. God in burning bushes; Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; Grace through a blinding light, knocking Paul off a horse.
However, more often than not, I experience the Divine in ordinary, hidden, humdrum ways.
In today’s readings, God works wonders beyond human expectations, understanding, or even imagining. Naaman was a mighty and favored army commander of the king of Aram. But he had leprosy. He travelled a long distance replete with horses and chariots, carrying a special letter of introduction by his king, bringing significant wealth, to seek healing from the king of Israel. When told to simply to wash himself in the river, he got angry. He scoffed: “Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel?” He had his facts: the muddy waters of the Jordan are no match hygienically for the mountain spring waters of Damascus. Yet, ritually, it is the other way around. Naaman was ready for the extraordinary. He did not expect the unspectacular. Yet, when he trusted God’s invitation through the prophet Elisha, he was cured. A similar phenomenon echoed in the Gospel. The people could not accept that Jesus, the familiar, homegrown carpenter, could be a powerful prophet like Elisha.
More often than not these days, I experience God in everyday prayer, routine work, and unremarkable human interactions. Formal prayer is typically quiet, uneventful, almost nothingness. I simply try to be present, listen through my own yawns and silent protestations, occasionally catching a glimpse at Jesus’ smile. Work can be tedious and boring. Being present to people in ministry often means befriending those who society deem “unimportant”, socially awkward, often obscure in any group setting.
Yet, showing up in prayer, on the job, with “unexciting” people slowly slowly brings me in greater contact with God, beyond the boundaries of my human understanding, or imagining.
Hidden One, help me to show up, be present, and trust you, wherever my feet and hands take me today, a Monday.