Finding God Instead
Why name an entry ‘Finding God Instead’? The title implies that the search was for something else. What was this something else?
Recently I attended the Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting Conference in Ligonier, PA. This involved a long trip which I shared with a couple excellent writers and friends of the monastery. The trip itself will be a post of its own, but in this entry, the focus will be on the conference itself.
As a ‘writer’ I went with the expectation of honing some skills, learning others, and perhaps gathering a better grip on the terrain of the writing world. Instead, I found something, or (Some One) greater which contains all of those things and more.
I found God again! Rather, He found me!
If you are an Eastern Christian, Orthodox or Eastern Catholic, it is always in your mind that God is everywhere present and filling all things. We start almost everything with this prayer to the Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth. It should be no surprise that God was there at the conference.
It was a wonderful surprise that the conference, while explicitly being about writing and podcasting, was first and foremost about God. This is what happens when you gather men and women, laity, and clergy who are all striving towards holiness. The avenue towards holiness and spreading the word of God happens to be writing and podcasting. This can come in the form of children’s books, magazines, blogs, podcasts, etc.
There was a specific talk at this conference that put everything else into perspective for me. It was a talk by Dr. Albert S. Rossi. He provided, what I believe, to be the best advice I could receive as a writer.
Be still and write from that stillness!
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 45 :10
This advice is, in many ways, life changing. It doesn’t just apply to writing. Everything I do, I should do from the stillness where I can find and listen to God. I should set the table from this stillness. I should clean bathrooms from this stillness, vacuum from this stillness, and let this stillness so penetrate my life that, as much as I can, I live within this stillness. It is, however, primarily apt for writers.
Dr. Rossi reminded me that “Be still and know that I am God” implies that if we are not still we will not know God. He took it further explaining that since we are created in the image of God if we do not know God, we can not know ourselves. If I don’t know God and therefore don’t know myself (but I know some false version of myself), there is nothing for me to offer as a writer. I should be offering what God wishes me to do, and that can only happen if I am still and write from the stillness. Once again, this insight works in every aspect of life and is relevant for every career one may have.
This stillness, and writing from it, reminds me where anything of use I come up with originates.
It’s not me!
Two of my favorite quotes from Dr. Rossi at the conference say this better than I ever could. “I know that I don’t know. Christ knows. I trust Him.” YES! “Do all you can and know that you did nothing.” Double YES!
This gift from Dr. Rossi is the lens through which I received the wonderful advice of all the other presenters at the conference. Let me point out that Dr. Rossi would probably say that the gift was from God and God did everything, and he (Dr. Rossi) did nothing.
The other presentations at the conference were of great help to me in different ways. I could very well have a blog post in the future entitled ‘How Nicole Roccas Saved My Life.’ since her tips on time management will provide me with more time to be silent and rest in that silence.
Every presenter provided material that will transform both my life and my writing in some way. They brought God to me and not just information. Thank you to all presenters and attendees at the conference for bringing God to me.
There was a story Dr. Rossi told that perfectly sums up what the conference was, and what it taught me (and is still teaching me) to do.
The story was about his wife who was sick in the hospital. One day she turned her spiritual father away. He was obviously troubled by this and thought something was wrong. Her response as to why she turned him away is so insightful. “Sometimes you bring God, and sometimes you bring you.” What a lesson!
Her words are a much-needed indictment against so much that I do. I need to stop bringing me and start to bring God to everyone.
We can do this together.
Let me know of any areas you think that you can start bringing God to others by leaving yourself at home. We can pray for each other that we are all able to evangelize in this way.
Pray for me.
I’ll pray for you.