Driving the length of the New Jersey Turnpike with the many exits, all numbered and some with A, B, or C, E or W tacked on after the number, I take notice of all the different roads that one might choose. I think of all the different paths and possibilities throughout life, not only for me and my husband, but also for our children. As we navigate the challenges, the joys and the sorrows of life, and the busyness of the world in which we live, it seems the best thing my husband and I can do for ourselves and our children, is to help them to know about God and to teach and encourage them to pray; that is, to help them to have a relationship with God. In fact, of all the things my husband and I might give to our son and daughter, or that they might acquire for themselves, prayer and relationship with God is the one thing that no one can ever take away from them.
Looking out the window as we continue to drive along, I think back to a time, when prayer in my life was just a cursory thing and relationship with God was a foreign concept. I recall one day, thinking and feeling that God was so distant…so far removed. Did God even care about the daily happenings of my life? Weren’t they too small for God compared to all other things?
I recall a conversation in which it became clear to me that my ongoing restlessness probably had something to do with where I was placing God in my life. If my life was a baseball diamond, it was as if God was way over in the bullpen, on standby, instead of behind the plate, calling the pitches. I started to think about, and to imagine, what it might be like to have God leading the way. The more I thought about it, the more I started to feel like I wanted God to be at the center of my life. The only problem was that I didn’t know where to begin. Other than attending Sunday Mass, praying before meals, and thanking God for all that I had and praying for other people at bedtime, I wasn’t aware that there were other ways of praying, or even that it was okay for me to pray for myself.
At the suggestion of a good friend, and the encouragement of a Spiritual Director, though, I began by simply spending more time in conversation with God. At first, just talking to God, wherever and whenever, seemed strange to me. So I started by going to daily Mass as often as I could and somewhere in the time leading up to Communion I would express my desire for God to be at the center of my life and for God to guide me and lead me. As time went on, I found myself more at ease and wanting to know more about God and God’s Word. I started to spend more time reading Scripture and praying with Scripture; setting aside time for quiet reflection and asking God to help me to see and hear more clearly. I also started to become more familiar with other parishioners and one day, one of the women at daily Mass asked me if I wanted to go downstairs after Mass for the women’s prayer group. I was unsure, but decided to give it a try, and before long it became a regular weekly activity.
What I did not know then, was that God was answering my prayers. God was placing me with people who, through prayer and sharing, were helping me to witness God and God’s ways in everyday life, making God seem closer than ever. In the years since I first had that conversation about God being in the bullpen, I have developed a relationship with God that is far greater than I could have ever imagined. It is like having the best GPS one could ever have.