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Daily Inspiration - September 9

It was 1982, and I was at Asilomar, a conference center by the ocean in the dramatic Monterey area about 75 miles south of San Francisco, attending a conference of Lutheran Church Women. What I mostly cared about was that, courtesy of my husband, I had some days away from the responsibilities of being a mother to my six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. I sang with joy the opening hymn, “Lift High the Cross”, a hymn I had never heard growing up as Catholic. The drama of the processional, the cross lifted high as male and female clergy walked by, the vibrant voices raised heavenward - all left an imprint on me of majesty, of power, of God-on-high that I still feel today when I hear that hymn.

I came to this gathering with uncertainty about the hilly terrain of the place. I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about two years earlier, and my gait was sometimes unsteady. I had not had many flare-ups recently and there were friends around if I needed help. MS is unpredictable, though. What I wanted to do most was to walk the quarter mile or so to visit the Asilomar beach, with its crashing waves, tide pools, dramatic rocky outcroppings, expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. Being near the sand creatures, the tides and the rhythm of the sea is a way I feel connected to God and his creation.

I made it to the shoreline of the ocean! The sun shone down on me; it made the water sparkle. God listened as I yelled about the MS, as I cried, as I sighed, as I tried to predict. I am a person who likes predictability. When I was diagnosed, I asked many questions - the neurologist responded, “At the end of your life, we will be able to tell you the course your MS followed.” Not the answer I wanted. (There has been much progress in the diagnosis and treatment of MS over the years since my diagnosis in 1980, but the cause of MS and the course it follows remain individual and unpredictable.)

I sat on the rocks and pondered the waves. Without pause, without sympathy, without doubt, God’s presence both crashed over me and gently embraced me as I looked into the tide pools teeming with life. I physically felt the arms of Jesus holding me. “I will be with you always,” he made clear. This experience was some 35+ years ago, but it is as real to me today as it was then. Has faith been a sure thing for me ever since? No. Yes. Maybe. Sometimes. All the time. Yet, Jesus does continue to let me know he is present. Am I listening?

In these days of Covid and uncertainty and unknowing, we all wrestle with stress and doubt and faith. In the words of a short song I love:

“Listen" by Carole Dyer

Listen to the voice of God

Listen to the Spirit

Listen to the voice of God

Listen, can you hear it?

God comes in a still small voice

God comes in a whisper

Listen to the voice of God

Listen, you will hear it.

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