I recently spent three days in Tasmania enjoying time out from the routine of daily life. Whilst I do relish a routine, it was very nice to stop, enjoy and reflect on life.
I reflected on the last six months in my new role of Project Officer for the Pastoral Planning Office. It has been an awesome experience and I have been introduced to so many amazing people doing wonderful things in parishes.
Sometimes we forget that whilst all the big things of Plenary Councils and Church Synods are happening, parish life continues each day and people are doing big things in their local context – ordinary things that make a huge difference to the lives of others.
The Pastoral Planning Team is currently working closely with four faith communities, each with their own characteristics and charisms. One of the parishes that we visit highlights the Ignatian way of “Finding God in all things.” That statement really stuck with me and, as I took this time out in Tasmania, I was very conscious to think about how this statement informed my experiences.
First, there is the Sydney traffic and airport parking to contend with. At 4.30am, Sydney streets are very much awake. In my anticipation to get to the airport in time for my flight, how do I respond to people who cut me off or drive not quite up to the speed limit? Do I acknowledge their story? They might be on their way home from a gruelling night shift or they might be on their way to a day’s work to provide for their family. Why is my destination more important than theirs? God, I pray for all the people on the roads. You are here, in our hearts and minds, in the midst of us.
And the airport! We all love the thrill of having to empty our bags, take off our shoes and wait in line to see whether we are going to have to go through extra security because something odd has appeared in the X-ray of our luggage (maybe not everyone). In this moment, I am thankful and appreciative for ingenuity and creative minds to develop these machines to keep us safe and secure. God has bestowed us with so many human gifts to be used for the care of others – security devices being no exception. Even the concept of air travel. I can travel from NSW to Tasmania in one-and-a-half hours. Wow!
For anyone who has been to Tasmania, you would have to agree it really is a beautiful part of the world. As I sat on the deck, or drove around and admired the beautiful landscape, it was so easy to see God’s hand in everything. In the rolling mountains and across the flowing river. Even the old buildings built in the days of early settlement. Again, the gifts of individuals – even if born out of convict circumstance – has created a richness for generations to appreciate. I thank God for everyone who has gone before us and for the legacy they have left.
And then there is the simplicity of buying woollen socks. Breaking news – Tasmania is cold! My toes were frozen, so I was informed that the local visitor centre had these great woollen socks, made locally to do the job. And yes, they did! My feet were suitably warmed to handle the rest of the day. I was especially grateful to the craftspeople who came up with the idea for these socks and then created a business to sell them to people with really cold feet like me!
How often do we buy simple things to make us that little bit more comfortable? How often do we remember the people who made them, who laboured in a factory or other workplace? And whilst I may complain that my socks were a lot more expensive than what I would normally pay for socks, where is my sense of justice for a fair and just wage for those who did labour to create these socks? God is in everything. Even in the issues of justice. Especially in these issues.
And finally there is the gift of friends. Dear friends sharing meals and wonderful deep conversations. And so many laughs. “Where two or three are gathered in my name…” Each time we sat around the table we thanked God for the gift of each other, for our faith – which is what brought us together – and for dear friendships that last a lifetime. In the beauty of sharing a meal, in these relationships, God is most present.
Where can you find God in all things today?
Lisa Bright is a Project Officer in the Pastoral Planning Office, Diocese of Parramatta.