The song of the psalmist echoes throughout the Gospel reading this week. “Lord, let your face shine on us.” It reminds me of a conversation I had with my youngest brother David during his first year of high school and my first year of divinity school, a conversation that started out like any other. David telling me about his classes and friends, his voice brimming with pride over his triumphs at his latest track meet. I asked him how preparation for confirmation was coming, and the simple honesty in his response was disarming.
“Jen, I don’t think I’m ready to get confirmed. I go to church, and I take communion, and nothing happens. Something’s supposed to happen, right? And I want it to happen, and it doesn’t. I just think that if I’m going to get confirmed, I should have had an experience of God already.”
In his words, I heard a yearning for the Something More that Thomas Merton describes. He was seeking an experience of God like the one that the disciples had, leaning close to hear Jesus say to him too, “Peace be with you. Touch me and see.”
In recent weeks, I have blogged about the way in which I feel the institutional church at times creates impediments to my own relationship with the Divine, rather than encouraging us to become closer. Like David and the disciples in today’s Gospel, I felt burdened by the weight of my questions, and I experienced a Lent filled with desolation. But I dis-covered the strength to start asking them out loud. And in finding my voice, I have been able to encounter the immense consolation of Easter that reminds me of the ever-welcoming Jesus, the risen Christ who always responds to my questions, to my pleas to see his face with a spirit of invitation and peace. Touch me and see, you who question. Touch me and see, you who challenge. Touch me and see, you who seek more than the present arrangements allow for.
My experience of Lent and the encounter to which it led at Easter have taught me that spiritual journeys like David and mine are hardly characterized by doubt. Rather, they are marked by a deeper conviction that Something More lies just beyond us. We are blessed with the desire that David voiced, a spirit filled with restlessness that seeks the kind of unity the disciples find with Jesus in today’s reading.
What is the Something More that you seek? With what communities do you journey toward it?
David Owens was confirmed at St. Irenaeus Parish in Cypress, CA, in 2006, and his sister cantored the Confirmation Mass.