I have been so sad this week at the death of one of my spiritual mentors, Darlene Zoll. Darlene was my prayer companion when I went through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a nine month weekly program through The Bridges Foundation in St. Louis. I was struggling with severe chronic migraines, unable to work, and was so confused about God’s purpose and plan for me after having been so sure. I marvel at how much God loved me and cared for me through this wise, spiritual, Catholic laywoman! During the second week of the program she gave the lecture to our group about being created constantly by God. She was kind enough to give me a copy of her talk, and I share a few excerpts from it below. When you read this glimpse of the depth of her faith, you can imagine what a blessing she was to me during a time of crisis. She framed her talk within the story of the whole universe grounded in our scientfic knowledge of the big bang and that the human genetic structure closely parallels the DNA of all other creatures. For Darlene, this creates a "new intimacy with all of life."
Prayer: Be focused and centered on God’s loving and creating presence. As you relax, close your eyes and become of aware of your breathing, know that the breaths you draw in and release are an intimate sharing of the breath of life that our Creator God breathed into Adam and Eve. God breathes you into existence NOW, creating you every moment, every second. If God stopped thinking of you, breathing you, you would cease to exist. This idea doesn’t frighten. On the contrary, the thought of God constantly creating us makes us aware of God’s wondrous, wonderful, intimate, constant love. God loves ME. God's love holds ME in existence RIGHT NOW. And God's love continues to create me anew moment by moment, second by second, nano second, by nano second. Be aware of God's loving gaze, God's loving breath right now. In Paul’s words, ‘In God we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). The Jerusalem Bible says, ‘In God we live and move and exist.’ Thank you, God. Amen.
I am being constantly momently created by God. Our God, the God of the universe, creates all things because of love. Our God creates me constantly and momently because of his love. Our God loves me personally and wants an intimate relationship with me. Our God is not far from us, some place between the earth and the moon and beyond the planets and the stars. Our God is present to us and lets us experience that presence. Faith tells us that God exists both as transcendent to and immanent in this world. So, God is encountered. Whether we are aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we are encountering God who is trying to catch our attention, trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship. God speaks us and all of creation and all of the universe into being constantly. God breathes us into being as he did Adam and Eve constantly, momently. Everything is of God.
If I am aware of God’s constant presence to me and if I am aware that God is creating me NOW, this moment this second, my response must be belief in God’s love for me, a trust in God’s love for me, that his personal love for me sustains me in all my life. I want to be aware that if God is breathing all into existence constantly, my breath, my very being is of God. I am not God, but just as God’s attributes are present in all of creation for me to see and experience, so God’s attributes are present in me for all creation to see and experience. I am not God. But what would life be like if I experience God’s loving presence in all of creation and all of creation experiences God’s loving presence in me—all the time? Jeremiah put is this way: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain my faithful love for you’ (Jer. 31:3).
Think about it: God is creating me all through the night as I sleep. God is creating me, keeping me in existence all through the day as I go about my business, not even aware of God’s breathing life and existence into me, even as the universe continues to expand and to evolve. Wow.
"Wow" is right, Darlene. I did experience God’s qualities and characteristics in you over and over and over again. Thank you, thank you for your constant love, encouragement, patient listening, wise counsel, forbearance and extra time you spent me with when the Exercises were done—you expressed these gifts to me momently, constantly! You are pure gift. Enter into the joys of our eternal home with the love and peace of God that sustained you on your earthly journey. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.