Ben Swanson, Anchor Senior Intern
I returned to campus after spring break with a sense that I had been gone for a very long time. I was on tour with the Glee Club and as we traveled through the American Southwest (enjoying every moment of it) I was left with very little time to pray. During the day we were either exploring a city or on the bus, and anyone who has been on such a bus for an extended period of time knows that it isn’t the best place for silent reflection or prayer. It is noisy and busy and exhausting. In the evening we would have a concert, visit with those who were hosting us, and then promptly collapse exhausted into sleep. Overall it was a week that did not lend itself to a consistent prayer life. And I felt it. When I returned I knew that I needed to pick up where I left off. I knew that I should go to Adoration in the CoMo chapel, or at least set aside some time to pray and center myself back into an awareness of God. The problem is that I really didn’t want to. I felt just a little bit lost and something kept convincing me to go do other things. This continued on for a week where some voice kept calling me to prayer but I kept myself away.
Eventually, I made my way into a chapel by overriding strong hesitation and forcing myself to make an effort. I sat down and began to pray. I knew that something was different. I felt foreign and distant from my prayer. It was like seeing a very old friend again and not knowing what to say because there is simply too much to say. I didn’t know whether I should apologize for my absence or be angry that God didn’t do more to pull me in sooner. It was in that chapel, in that moment of ambiguity in prayer, that I realized something remarkable. God didn’t feel distant from me. He felt as close as ever. I looked back across this week of hesitation and I realized that God had been pulling on my sleeve, flicking my ear, and reminding me constantly that I should be praying. At the time I thought it was just annoying. I was angry with God for not calling me back to prayer while at the same time I was annoyed that a little voice in my head wouldn’t let me just go my own way in peace. I didn’t realize until later that God was that little voice. I realized that I had been talking to God all week. I had been telling him: “I know that I should be praying, but just give me a day or two.” I asked God to wait for me, that I would be back soon.
God did wait for me. He was there waiting to hear everything I had to say or to sit with me in silence whenever I was ready. But God wasn’t going to just let me wallow until I happened to find my way back. He was constantly pulling and calling out to me. He told me time and time again that I would find joy in coming to Him. I couldn’t find my way back to prayer except through prayer. Only God could be the source of a relationship with God. I wasn’t going to find that through ignoring him. I have often had long periods of time where I cannot hear God or it seems as though God cannot hear me, and I know that I am not unique in this. In these moments we are filled with the temptation to run and hide. We think that wherever God is he doesn’t want to hear about our problems. He’s probably angry with us and we need to fix things before presenting ourselves before Him again. The beauty is that God, whether we feel close to Him or not, is always with us. He is always calling us to Himself. We hide ourselves from Him and dress Him up in all sorts of disguises so that we may ignore his call for a moment. But God does not ignore us, even for a moment. He hears us and sees us in every moment of our lives. He waits for us to hear His call so that He may welcome us with open arms into the joy of His love. In a little over a month I will be leaving Notre Dame and I know that I will encounter more “tour bus times”, those periods when prayer is neglected for a while. I know that I can take hope in the fact that God will always be calling me back to him and waiting for me with open arms.