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The Catholic Moment: Burning bushes and bikers

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

By Sister Carol Gaeke, O.P.

When God wanted Moses’ attention the Holy One intrigued him with a bush that seemed to be burning but was not consumed. With the vibrancy this year of so many burning bush shrubberies in our area it is easy to understand Moses’ curiosity in approaching this sight. How often do we encounter beauty that lets us know that God is around? It may not be as phenomenal as Moses’ burning bush, but our experiences are no less revelatory of God’s presence.

And often God comes in a humorous fashion. A friend was having a dental procedure, and his apprehension and nervousness were mounting as he drove to the surgeon’s. At a traffic light he heard the sounds of a motorcycle and he looked over at the source of the sound. Beside him was the quintessential biker: Harley Davidson, black leather jacket and leather pants, a bandanna on his head and wrap-around sunglasses. Then an unexpected bark was heard and, peeking its head out of the biker’s jacket was a poodle with the same biker sunglasses. My friend laughed and said, “This is a God moment.” He needed to relax and know that God was in charge and all his worrying would do nothing. The biker was his reminder.

God also comes in the pain and misfortune we experience in life. When things are going wrong we wonder where God is. Sometimes we acutely experience God as a great absence. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, but that triumph was just a prelude to His passion and death. This event turned the believers’ hopes and dreams upside down.

The feast of Christ the King says that life is paradoxical and faith has to sustain us when nothing else in life does. Faith says look for the God moments each day. With our eyes open to the presence of God we can be sustained.

Our everyday lives are filled with signs and wonders of God. At Thanksgiving we are invited to look more closely for the ways that God has blessed us. This is the time to recall that for most of us in America, even in this economic downturn, our glasses are not only half full, but overflowing. If we have enough to eat, a safe place to live, warm clothing, jobs, health care, family and friends we are indeed wonderfully blessed. If we have most of those in any measure we are probably in the top five percent of humankind. If we look at what we don’t have we will always be miserable.  If we look at what we do have, most of us will realize we have all that we need and most of what we really want. A God moment is in recognizing this and giving thanks. God keeps trying to tell us, in the ordinariness of our lives, that we are loved.

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