Experiencing God

A spiritual experience is one in which we experience God. God is. When we pay attention we notice. It doesn’t matter what we see or where. It’s the quality of our attention that lends sacredness to the moment.
When I walk into the men’s penitentiary where I work, I experience God. I’m aware of suffering. I sense despair. I feel God in the air. The custody officers are solemn, the inmates withdrawn (or maybe abusive). But I recognize the immediacy and the urgency and the power of each moment. And I know that’s God.
Where humans ache, God lives. When we wonder if we will survive, God abides. In our confusion and misery and hopelessness, God waits.
I see God in the inmates when they talk about cleaning their 6 x 9 foot cells which they share with another man. I hear God when the inmates speak about their struggles with drugs—they know they shouldn’t touch them but they don’t know if they can resist. I feel God when the lifers offer a pleasant thought –I know that they choose acceptance. God’s work proceeds in the moment as these men wrestle with what it means to live a meaningful life.
The lifers especially must delve within themselves to find a way to survive. They are faced with the possibility of never walking 100 yards in a straight line ever again. Maybe they will never crack an egg or wear their own clothes. And yet they find purpose in Hospice when they sit with their fellows who are dying. In the evenings they teach younger inmates to read in the Literacy program. 
One said to me last week that he expects to be released soon (after 25 years) but if not, that’s OK. He has learned that his inner world peace is all that counts; it doesn’t matter where his body is. And I experienced God in that moment.



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