True epiphanies are rare. I’m not talking about instants of sudden inspiration or “aha moments.” Those are rare enough.
I’m talking about those times that the dictionary describes as “a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being,” those scarce times when God breaks through.
My first epiphany of the sacred kind came in 1972. It came like a meteor knocking me out of a degenerating orbit and into the path of redemption. As Phil Keaggy sang back then, God’s “love broke through.” That meteor saved my life.
I can count the other meteors on one hand.
Counting God’s Presence
But are those life shattering moments the only times we can count God’s presence? As if living spiritually is all mountain tops and glowing sunsets.
The late Guy Chase didn’t think so. Chase, a renowned artist, carried a piece of shirt cardboard and an India ink pen in his back pocket and every time he sensed God’s presence he yanked out the pen and placed a dot on the cardboard. He finally considered the strange piece of art finished after he had recorded 40,000 mini-epiphanies.
In the course of 2012 being the Year of Living Spiritually, I’ve tried similar experiments to heighten my ability to see God in the ordinary.
- I’ve shot random pictures and looked at them to see if there is anything I missed in the frame.
- I’ve journaled joys, sorrows, and memories.
- I’ve taken a day to look at life as a child would.
- I spent Holy Week trying to act in one way Jesus did each day.
- I’ve listened to silence.
Living Spiritually is an Art
What I’ve come to realize, besides how difficult it is to intentionally see God in daily life, is that living spiritually is more of an art than it is a science. Guy Chase seemed to know that. While I try to record my encounters with God in words and pictures (which are also art) and ideas, Chase counted them in artistic dots that, when taken as a whole, look to me like a doorway into some unknown and adventurous place. Chase’s art calls me into a new daily adventure of seeking God.
Chase’s art has also shown me that artistically representing something mysterious, such as an encounter with God, can often better capture those encounters rather than trying to define them precisely. Seeing living spiritually as an art gives God room to move and show up in my life. Not that we should’t try to articulate and define our experiences with God. It’s simply that God is more than we can count.
40,000 versus Infinity
Still I try. But I find I can’t count 40,000 of anything much less 40,000 times I’ve felt God present. In reality, even that number would pale to the truth of God’s omnipresence. There is not a cardboard big enough to record God’s continual caress of our lives.
As I scan Chase’s dots, I can only imagine how alive Guy Chase must have been during his art project. How he must have grown and changed, knowing he was never alone. And I realize how I long to hear just one or two of the things Chase saw and learned as he marked dots on his cardboard. How I yearn to live with such intensity and awareness.
Yet, as day 135 of the Year of Living Spiritually opens, I have noticed a laxness in my counting God’s presence. My daily journal entries have shortened, as has my God-attention span.
Chase must have grown tired too. But the final truth in his untitled, and now lost work of art, is that God does not grow tired of investing every molecule of life with his presence. You can count on that.
Eugene C. Scott can count to ten without using his fingers. Beyond that? He is also very honored to count you as a reader and would love to hear about how you count God’s presence in your life. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.