Personal Reflection on "Looking at God Looking at You" article.

Updated: Jun 16

I am taking a leap in trust and faith in sharing my personal reflection on "Looking at God Looking at You" an article by Robert Marsh, SJ that I wrote during a CE program for spiritual directors to offering the Spiritual Exercises in the 19th Annotation format, in the hope it may offer you reading this an uplifting experience to have a bit more of freedom of accepting the graces offering to us on a daily basis by our Creator God.

Enjoy reading the article

What were some of the highlights of the material for me?

The brightest highlight for me was the profound and absolute need to begin every prayer this way... or any spiritual exercise to refocus our attention on how God and also end… to let the gaze of Christ envelop me ( for everything does begin with and end with God).

What touched me was being reminded about how I felt --- a wonder-filled awe when I begin my day still in bed or end my day putting myself to sleep with God. It’s there when I have the experienced images where the person of God is gazing upon me in a stilled, quiet love as I lay resting.

What challenged me in this material?

To take time to reflect upon what I would like to not remember of my past ideas about God.

I have been blinded. In my early years, God was a distant ‘a non-huge thing’ who was frighteningly too close; the one who knew everything before I could wipe away those foreign thoughts that popped into from out of nowhere, thoughts I never dared speak, yet I sinned and was held responsible for these intruders.

Those billowing warnings, that was a voice blasting across the sky with shards of condemnation. Why would I ever want to hear what that God had to say, no less to look at me? There was no trust, yet what poured forth from my heart as the bittersweetness there was an endless need. It took a gift of courage to act on through my yearning to love what I knew not but hoped for.

As the author wrote, rituals were a distraction for him. I was not fond of rituals, found them difficult due to trying to remember them correctly; trying to follow the rules left me anxious. Nevertheless, we were taught to focus on finding God’s will, not on our own needs, intentions, desires. It was a one-way street, for we did not count. Then the theology shifted to focus on our experiences, a different one-way street as if I were now calling across the mountain range with only my voice echoing back. I felt alone.

What was relevant to my formation as a director of the Exercises?

It’s taking quite a number of years through the long tailed graces from the various spiritual exercises that have allowed me to peek into those pits of fear that hid in the recesses of my mind, so as to be able to look across that divide to Jesus as God.

And now that God is one who I could love and just be with… long enough to listen to, to laugh with, to cry with, to get out of bed with and look for those gifts of the day. This is the God in Jesus Christ, who wraps his warm gaze upon me as I turn on my side and crawl up my knees in that pose of womb-like comfort. I can gaze back with my heart anticipating the entry into that land where dancing thoughts cluster around flowing and forming into dreams that will never be remembered but felt.

For in gaze of a steadied intentional look now in hopeful mutual admiration, I can allow myself to be changed. There’s a sense of trust, as I stand before going beyond into the unknown. Here I found God has been standing there all along in the silence infused with a sweetness not bitter.

This article gave me an opportunity to appreciate evermore so the life-giving gifts of sharing in a mutual gaze.

I may agree with the author that as a society we replaced God with a god of science. Yet for me I discovered God in the life sciences I studied; I saw we were discovering who created it all; and discovering those little secrets hidden behind and within every electron. It was amazing! That is how I came back.

More and more as I reflect upon and appreciate the medieval mind where they believed God was infused within everything, where spirits existed as a help guide for an eternal life.

When the author wrote we do not begin our prayer alone as individuals we begin with someone looking at us, it awakened in me that reality. We begin prayer outside of ourselves in a place where someone is looking at us and absolutely delighted to see us. How wonderful!

Too many time I have forgotten. Today I am left with this image of God smiling...“I am looking at God looking at me looking at God“ and we’re both smiling!

What would I like to take to prayer?

To be reminded to begin all my prayer periods that way; and to be able to share with others in such a way, they will come to realize by doing this how profoundly it is filled with graces. My prayer is to be reminded of St. Ignatius’s annotation for we are called to step into prayer time each time to begin the encounter with the living God.

It no longer needs to be a mile long monologue, but can be a dialogue of smiles.