It is important to point out that I feel I have a fair mix of Catholic, Protestant, and my dad's influences, and for all of them I am grateful. From every facet of my spiritual upbringing I have garnered truth and wisdom and help. And, in perfect honesty, the influence for which I am most grateful still is that of Dad. Without Dad's commitment to raise his children up to know God, I would have struggled much harder to find my Creator and very likely would have had a much greater allotment of heartache and trouble before I did.
When my dad read to his kids from the Bible on Sabbaths during my childhood, I felt that Jesus was present, as if he were actually sitting by my dad's side or standing in the room surveying our little gathering and giving his blessing to our understanding. And, after all, did he not say, Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them? After we read, we always discussed, and Dad listened to his children's thoughts and questions with respect. But, of course, spiritual food was not reserved for Sundays. Everyday events brought God into our minds and conversations as a family. Because of this, and despite many financial and physical disturbances, God was with us, and we felt it.
I am keenly aware of how blessed I am to have felt God's presence in my life from early childhood. There are times, though, and more so now that I am an adult, when it seems God has traveled several million light years away, and during such times I am lonely and restless. Perhaps that is my little glimpse into a world filled with creatures who do not know what to seek or how to seek it. As a perpetual state it would be destructive to me and to all my hopes.
But, thank God, the loneliness passes. After a few days or weeks, I am back walking with my Father again along peaceful paths, feeling the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit that never fails to inspire an incomprehensible joy. At such times I hear more clearly that indispensable guiding voice, and I am grateful for it.
In example, I was recently speaking with my husband about helping family members who were experiencing difficult times. One morning while driving my kids to school, I was debating how best to convince him to give more than we had originally agreed upon. If we gave less to this special person, could we then give more to help this loved one? While these arguments were going through my mind, this guiding thought came firmly, Let him be generous. I could have said a simple amen, because from that moment I was no longer troubled. I decided immediately to let my husband decide what to give, and in the end he truly astounded me; it was more than I would have dared to bargain for.
If I were not currently walking these gentle paths where I feel God is responding to me, I probably would not be writing here. A part of me always fears that loneliness that could come around that very next corner, part of me feels like saying a pleading prayer, Stay with me, but every spiritual person I have ever read about or spoken with has encountered fallow periods. The point is to plow through them, to continue to serve your fellow man, and to seek God in all things - however difficult and painfully solitary it may be.