As a deer longs for flowing streams,so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God,for the living God.When shall I come and beholdthe face of God? My tears have been my food day and night,while people say to me continually,‘Where is your God?’
This afternoon at our monthly Oblate meeting we reflected on the first stanza of Psalm 42. Like a growing number of lay Catholics, I pray the psalms every day. Of all the psalms my two favorite have to do with thirsting for God. Psalm 63 is my favorite and Psalm 42 comes a close second. The idea of "thirsting" for God speaks very loudly to me. We all experience physical thirst at times although it is no where near the thirst that people experience who have no clean water to drink and truly thirst. However the kind of thirst the Psalmist is speaking of is not the physical but the spiritual. It is that thirst for God which can be so deep that at times it mimics true physical thirst, but is usually that longing that St. Augustine speaks of when he wrote, "You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
One of the questions we were asked to reflect on was our experience of God, in what ways do I need to experience God. While having a mystical experience of God would probably bring me great joy and consolation, after spending two years pondering the writings of John of the Cross I have become quite comfortable doing without personal theophanies or other mystical experiences. Have I had them? I can honestly say I have, and it was great, but I am at a point in my life right now where my relationship with God does not depend on mystical experiences. This does not mean I don't experience God, it is just that He reveals Himself in the ordinary, in the people I see everyday, in my family, friends and in my ministry. I experience Him in His Word and in the Eucharist. I don't always feel His presence, but through Faith I know He is here with me always.
Desire and longing for God is a thirst that I know will not be quenched on this earth, but it gives me Hope. Hope is something that I believe is lacking today. There are too many cynics, too many pessimists and far too many living without Hope. It is true that there are a lot of things that are wrong in the world today and in seems as if the evil one is getting the upper hand. But there is always Hope. Hope is that flowing stream, that running water that cools and refreshes and quenches the thirst we have for something greater than ourselves, Someone who is the source of all our Hope.