This is a repost of a blog that written during the Advent season of 2010.
I heard God ask me a question this morning in the prayer room at the Austin House of Prayer. I don’t say that lightly. I had just read the account in the gospel of Luke of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary announcing the coming of the messiah and the part she was to play. I read it but I wasn’t really thinking about it. After the reading I began the monologue with God that I humbly consider to be prayer and in mid-sentence a thought blew through my mind dissipating my monologue like mist in a breeze. The thought consisted of a single sentence spoken from the space occupied by God in the imagination of my prayer. It was, “Am I real?”
I paused for a moment then resumed the monologue, but the thought interrupted again, “Am I real?” What did this mean? Was this God? Had my prayer become a dialogue the topic of which I had not chosen? I tentatively answered the thought, “What do you mean ‘real’? Of course you are real”. The thought repeated itself in my mind, “Am I REAL?” This time I realized that I was being invited to examine my heart. I thought again of the story of the angelic visitation and Mary’s conversation. That seemed real in a way that my relationship with God rarely does. I began a conversation with the silence. “No”, I answered, “mostly you are not real. You are more theoretically true, like the inner structure of the earth or the reality of DNA. I do not doubt your theoretical existence, but in the moment by moment living of my days, you are not often real to me.” The silence seemed to smile and new words formed in my mind, “I know”.
I was left with a sense of invitation. I exited the prayer room carrying with me the nearly tangible feeling that God really was leaving with me. I envisioned Mary going on about the activities of her day after the angel left; everything as it was before, but also everything somehow different, touched by the conversion of God from theoretically true to real and present; around her, inside her. I feel that normalcy and strangeness too as I move through the activities of my day; around me, inside of me. I feel the wonder of it.
So, as God whispered to me, I whisper to you, “Is God real?” Consider this an invitation.