The Presence of God

Source: one millionvoices.wordpress.com

Back in 2000 and again in 2002 I had occasion to make a weeklong sesshin (Zen retreat) under the guidance of roshi (master) Fr. Robert Kennedy, S.J., at the Jesuit, Inisfada Retreat House on Long Island, NY.  Each day the 40-or-so ‘students’ and guides, along with roshi Kennedy, sat for hours in meditation, interrupted periodically with a group mindfulness-walk through the beautiful Inisfada grounds.

Inisfada Retreat House. Source: therealdeal.com

Learning to still the mind as well as the body was extremely challenging for me.  But with practice it slowly became somewhat easier to be interiorly and exteriorly quiet.  Thoughts gradually fade away and physical twitches and itchiness subside.

During the second sesshin in 2002, following several days of meditation, I had a profound interior experience of connectedness with everyone one else in the zendo (meditation room) and beyond, even to all other human beings on the face of the earth and to everything else in creation.  It lasted for several minutes.

And from that experience came a profound sense of the presence of God in me and in all that exists. It then became a mantra that has remained with me over the years and which I continue to repeat many times daily: “I am here, YOU are here; YOU are There, I am There”.

Source: upaya.org

As I pray and focus on these words over and over I am continually drawn into a deeper awareness of the presence of Holy Trinity in me and me in the Trinity. The “There” is not a specific place but wherever and everywhere the Trinity is.  In praying this mantra I often call to mind loved-ones and others who have been commended to my prayer and thereby bring to consciousness God’s presence in them and them in God.

The presence of God, the Trinity, is all-encompassing, all-inclusive.  The Jesuit priest-scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, described the universe we live in as “The Divine Milieu”, where God is all in all.  The Francisan, Richard Rohr, is fond of saying God is FOR us, WITH US and WITHIN us, including everything in creation.  When I pray my mantra:  “I am here, YOU are here; YOU are There, I am There”, all of these truths coalesce.

Bernie Carroll, SJ, is a spiritual director at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario.

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