In the second session of our Spirit-focused young adults’ retreat, I turned the tables on my initial theme. Instead of highlighting the ways in which the search for union or communion with God was a natural desire for human beings, I reflected a bit on the ways in which the results and experiences entailed by such encounters can be anything but ordinary.
Experiences of such closeness with the Divine can lead to such unpredictable and spontaneous results on our part, I think, because of great differences between the persons involved. One is us: finite, mortal, bound by space and time. The Other: God Almighty, immortal, invisible, all-powerful, and transcendent. To imagine that any meeting between unequal would not involve the lesser party (us) being completely overwhelmed is harder to believe, I think, than that such a moment would be “normal.”
To be sure, each person’s temperament is a bit different…and each of us outwardly respond to stimuli (spiritual, emotional, and otherwise) a bit differently. That’s one of the reasons why some of us are Roman Catholics, others Pentecostals, and still others Presbyterians. This does not negate the fact, however, that “God showing up” in one’s life is a powerful moment. Just look at the examples provided by Scripture.
During this session, we ended with a time of prayer in which I encouraged those gathered to ask God to “pour out His Spirit” upon them. To seek the giftings God might have for them. No jazzy worship band. No overplayed emotional heart-strings. Just a call to for us the finite to seek an encounter with God the Infinite. I asked them to do so in boldness, even if they had no definite notions of what such a mystical encounter had to look like for them. I told them to have no fear of doing something “wrong.” Neither closemindedness nor weirdness for the sake of weirdness were welcome here.
Later I had them share in small groups about the experience…in the process hopefully encouraging them to be open to such sometimes times of com(union) with God in the future.