My prayer groups meets on Zoom now. We shared a lot about our difficulties during our time of isolation, particularly about missing Mass each week--or every day, in some cases. One of my group members whose faith is very genuine said something that struck me.
"I miss Jesus."
I don't doubt her. I truly believe she has a deep, loving relationship with Jesus. When she says, "I'll keep you in my prayers," she means it. She actually writes down the names of people my prayer group mentions as needing prayers.
To her, receiving the body and blood of Jesus at Mass is essential to her faith. As one of our deacons said, "It is how we receive life."
So is this to say we're not living now?
I've been reading and meditating a lot more these past few weeks. So much of my reading has centered on experiencing God in the everyday.
Rather than going to God who is "out there" or "up there," we can look for God who is "in here." In other words, we can experience God wherever we are, whether it's in church or in the confines of our homes.
How? By seeing prayer differently.
Meditation and mindfulness are popular today mostly as a means of stress relief. In a world filled with distractions, it's important for us to reclaim our ability to focus and "pay" attention to one thing.
However, when you look at the contemplative tradition in Christianity, you'll notice meditation was a critical practice in experiencing God.
I would imagine many mystics and contemplatives had recited Psalms or other formal prayers to prepare their hearts and minds. It serves as a sort of warm-up to transition towards the experience.
Then, the contemplative would allow God to breathe within them. God is already within--we just have to get ourselves out of the way.
Eventually the meditation melts into the everyday. Rather than setting aside a time and space for the experience, it becomes easily accessible at any moment.
For instance, a man had prayed, "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner." This became his mantra in his meditation. He would then recite it at any moment of the day when he needed help. Because this mantra had echoed within, he knew that the Holy Spirit was praying this within, even when he wasn't mindful of it.
Can you catch yourself in the everyday like this? Although it's important to set aside time for prayer or meditation, can you direct your mind to God within when your mind wants to dart towards its earthly desires and attachments?
When we say we "miss Jesus," it's just a matter of tuning out the world of senses, and tuning into God within us.