Wait! Before you skip over this post because you may not believe in God, substitute a term that does fall into your beliefs: “awe,” “wonder,” “inexplicable beauty,” or “a moment of transcendence.”? Don’t let the words get in the way.? Now ask yourself: Where do you find those things, and where are you when they find you?
It turns out that we often discover the transcendent in the most unexpected or idiosyncratic places. It can literally happen any place. That’s actually really promising – because if God (or whatever) can be there, then God (or whatever) can be anywhere.? And, yes, if He/She/It can be anywhere, then He/She/It can be everywhere. It isn’t something God is doing as much as where we’re looking.
It’s actually amazing what we can find, if we start looking without worrying about what others tell us we should seek.
Rather than start where you’ve been told to look, such as a house of worship or a prayer ritual, begin with where you already find – and build from there. What does this mean, in practical terms?
Step one: Make a short list of your immediate responses to the places (or activities) where you feel you’ve connected to that which is bigger than you, anyplace you’ve encountered that which is more meaningful than you can fully describe. Whatever comes up first is fine, and try not to list more than 5 or 6.
Step two: Place that list under your pillow, or any other spot that is central to how you begin or end your day. It’s just for you, so it doesn’t matter where, as long it’s someplace personal that matters for you and is readily accessible.
Step three: Take out the list once a day and ask yourself, “Where did I find God today?” and/or “Where Did God find me?” Don’t worry if you draw a blank on any given day, or even for many days. Just ask. When you have something new to add to the list, by all means add that new answer. Either way, read the list to yourself before putting it back.
There’s no magic to this process, but for many people who wonder, “Where is God?”, doing this will help you find what you’re looking for – even when, or perhaps especially when, you feel least capable of finding it. It’s actually amazing what we can find, if we start looking without worrying quite so much about where to look, and about what others tell us we should seek.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.