Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
I love my work as a counselor. What a privilege to spend my days and many evenings engaging visitors who share their stories of suffering and hope. Whatever their background and circumstances, therapy always occasions a glimpse at the beauty and dignity of everyone I meet. I get a sense of divine presence in those conversations. That is the spiritual heart and joy of my work.
Yet, a spiritual test comes with the busyness and bustle surrounding those sacred sessions. Appointments often occur back-to-back in my full caseload at the college counseling center that I also manage. After documenting our work, I answer calls and emails and consult on the fly with deans, professors, office managers, psychiatrists, parents, peer educators, and other counselors without divulging secrets. I can’t keep up with the paper all over my desk. In my evening private practice off-campus, I must negotiate the exasperating bureaucracy of insurance companies.
At a very young age, I embraced the spirituality of listening ministry. But growing up spiritually required carrying that same attention to the divine into the whirlwind of activity and static that makes listening difficult. Seeking God in all the activity seems the way to keep a sense of the sacred. In every encounter, task, and interruption, God is the counselor and I, the patient.
Nevertheless, the challenge intensifies. I have these sweet things called dreams that I hold onto with all I’ve got. You see before you a specimen of a dream to write that always lures me. I married the woman of my dreams five years ago, and there is so much that I want to do for her. Old fantasies of simplifying things with the monastic life died after she agreed too give me a chance. No turning back, no way.
This is my life. It is springtime in academia, a season when cold rains wash out and pollen closes in, a sleepless season for students with their term papers, awards, final exams, and graduation jitters. Occasionally, we facilitate medical withdrawals for those who collapse. Chasing dreams and losing sleep amid frenetic activity exhausts everyone. This busy, dream-driven life is not just mine, but ours.
In this over-committed life, I am seeking God and I believe we are seeking God, whether we know it or not. God, whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways, dwells among us, attends every event, shares every frustration and lonely night and thrill of success and love. But what God is doing with all this, we cannot know. And only what God does with it will matter in the end. God may run faster than us, doing this and that, trying to move and shake things into place before a deadline. Or God may remain very still.
Seeking God amid the busy schedule matters terribly, I know, but what matters more, what offers hope and peace is God’s seeking us. Since seeking God seems impossible in all the rush, we do well to still ourselves and watch for God coming.
Do we have to be very still to know God? Do we have to simplify, letting go of dreams and responsibilities and only doing the things that give us that sense of presence? Or can we search our keyed-up restlessness for what God does in it? Can we listen for what God says amid our fast talk? If we cannot, what is the point of all the dreaming and striving?