A contemplative consideration

Let us put it this way: what is it that actually has power over us? What rules me? People, mainly. Those who speak to me, whose words I read; those with whom I associate or would like to associate; the people who give or withhold, who help or hinder me; people I love or influence or to whom I am bound by duty—these rule in me. God counts only when people permit him to, when they and their demands leave time for him. God rules only in spite of people; when under their influence I am not too strongly tempted to feel that he does not exist at all. He reigns only inasmuch as consciousness of his presence is able to force itself upon me, to coexist with the people in my life..Things also rule in me: things I desire, by the power of that desire; things that bother me, by their bothersomeness; things I encounter wherever I go, by the attraction they have for me or by the attention which they demand. Things in general, by their very existence, fill the spiritual ‘space’ both within and around me, not God. God is present in me only when the crowding, all-absorbing things of my world leave room for him—either in or through them, or somewhere on the periphery of their existence. No, God certainly does not dominate my life. Any tree in my path seems to have more power than he, if only because it forces me to walk around it! What would life be like if God did rule in me?

Then I would know—not by strenuous, conscious effort, but spontaneously, from the vitality of constant encounter: He is! His would be the one name, the one reality before all others. I would know him as I know the beauty and freshness of a meadow in full bloom, and I would be able to speak of him, as I speak of its richness, deeply conscious of what I meant. His essence would be as real and clear to me as that of a person I knew intimately and understood—to my good or harm: someone with a certain face, a familiar gait, whose mind and spiritual powers responded in a specific manner to my own. –Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’


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