Friday 27 April 2012

Journey Home: Finding God in Me (& All Things)

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

Home is where the heart belongs. Being at home is about finding out where our hearts feel at peace, where we experience joy and transformation. For me, this very exercise of discernment has been my quest for God. For the last 13 years, it has been an intentional search. The adventure to find God in my life has been nothing short of an odyssey, or a quest for the Holy Grail. It meant my preparation for this expedition would lead me to God. When I set out, I knew that if the quest leads me to attain God, it would mean transformation and eternal life.

This story is like that of every eager and aspiring person who has set out to find the meaning of Life and the fountain of Truth. My intent to find God has configured me into Odysseus – leaving home to wander the open seas – while becoming a stranger, a guest in a world he did not fully understand. At first, the journey was about all the things I would have to learn, to acquire or to give up in order to experience the Divine. It was as much about learning as it was about unlearning. I had to unlearn unhealthy behaviours and habits. I had to relearn to accept myself.

Through prayer, life experiences and conversations with others, I started to realize that finding God is not about travelling to a far and remote place in order to cultivate the unfathomable skills that make possible the attainment of the Divine. God is nearer than I could ever imagine. The film “Hook” drove this home to me, pun fully intended. In the film, Captain Hook organizes a ballgame to show his feigned appreciation for Jack, the son of Peter Pan. When Jack comes up to bat, instead of cheering for Jack to hit a home run, the pirates mix up the words and chant, “Run home, Jack! Run home, Jack!” All I heard was, “Run home, Santi. Run home. Find the place where your heart is on fire. There you shall find God.”

In that moment, baseball was the perfect analogy for my journey to God – running through all the bases to finally arrive home. There is no triumph in staying on second base, or in reaching third if one does not reach home. In light of this realization, my quest acquired a new dimension: learning where my heart feels at home, and in the process discovering that I could find God in all things. And in finding God everywhere, I came to realize that God dwelt within me. I understood this in greater depth in an encounter with St. Paul, who writes to the Corinthians that “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). All of a sudden, I understood that my quest to God was really my quest with God.

In searching and finding God in all things, I discovered that God, who dwells and labours in me as He does in all of creation, has always been with me. He was with me in every one of my attempts at bat, but also in my visits to second and third base. He has been with me in every strike out and in all fly-outs. He has been with me during my own Trojan Wars and in my return to Ithaca – home. He is home. My destination. I found myself in looking for him; and in accepting myself as I am, I came to accept the grace that helps me to proclaim the Good News.

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