Breezy Days

Kent HickeyBy Kent Hickey8 Minutes

Excerpt from 40 Days with God: Time Out to Journey Through the Bible by Kent Hickey.

Day One
Breezy Days

I believe that we can “find God in all things,” as the Ignatian saying goes. I just don’t spend a lot of time looking. I have my reasons, one of them being that if I try to find God it might make it easier for God to find me. I am often very different from the “very good” being God created, a source of embarrassment for me. I’m not sure that I want to be found.

We are, all of us, very good. It’s right there in the first creation story in Genesis, the one attributed to the anonymous writer that scholars refer to as the Priestly source. The Priestly author prized order, and that is reflected in the consistent pattern of days in his creation story. Key to that pattern was that God saw good in creation every day. This was especially true after God created humans, that final day when “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good (Gen. 1:31).”

The Priestly creation story is followed by a completely different creation story, one written by another anonymous author, designated as the “Yahwist” by scholars. God created goodness here too — in the forms of Adam and Eve. That pure goodness didn’t last long though, as symbolized by their decision to eat fruit from the forbidden tree. Later, when Adam and Eve heard God walking about in the Garden of Eden, they hid themselves behind a tree. They knew that God was looking for them, and they had no desire to be found, given how embarrassed (naked) they were after what they had done.

Hiding behind a tree when God is looking for me is often where I find myself. Many types of trees offer good cover — busy-ness, ego, sloth. Usually, though, the tree is of the “I’m not worthy” variety. That feeling of nakedness before God can come from any number of lowly interactions during the day, including the beginning of the day. I am struck, for example, by how often I eat forbidden fruit during my morning commute.

How low can I go? On my drive to work, I sometimes get stuck behind a small yellow bus that is picking up a child with special needs. The delay (because the process seems so inefficient to me) often leads me to curse under my breath. On one particularly grace-filled morning, however, I found myself transported by this sight: after the mother had placed her child in the bus, I was mesmerized by the hand of the father as he waved back and forth to his child from the curb. Peace settled into my heart in this very good moment … until the guy in the car in front of me honked his horn and flipped off the family. I was then reminded of the many mornings when in my heart I had flipped that same finger at that family.

One would think that I am better when I ride my bike to work instead of driving. If so, one would think wrong. Biking in Seattle brings its own flip-off opportunities. I recall one especially bad day when my fellow bike commuters were particularly vexing, a lot of erratic riding and jostling. I was even cut off by some guy wearing disturbingly small, skintight bike shorts. I yelled at the guy, “That’s a crime, man. A crime against nature!” (I may or may not have said “man.”)

Right after that, I came upon a group of riders that slowed me down, all of them wearing shirts that read on the back, “Probably too old to be doing this.” I thought that this was likely true as I finally started to pass them, annoyed expression firmly in place and preparing to flip a mental middle finger as I went by. Instead — to my surprise — as each of them smiled and waved at me, I found myself smiling and waving back to each of them.

Cringe-worthy moments like these pop into my head when I pray at the end of the day, and often a quotation from St. Ignatius follows: “I am an obstacle to myself.” When feeling this way, I am more inclined to put up obstacles between myself and God, hiding behind a tree after the embarrassment of (once again) eating forbidden fruit. I don’t want to look for God much at those times, and I certainly have no desire to be found.

What helps draw me out of hiding is the image that the Yahwist drew of God walking about in the Garden during the breezy time of day. I imagine God taking that walk every day, looking for Adam and Eve so that they could all walk together. Yes, their eating fruit from that tree hurt God, but perhaps their hiding hurt even more. It is the same with us when we find reasons to hide behind trees so that we won’t be found.

God doesn’t care about any of those reasons, especially the I’m-not-worthy ones. What God does care about is us. Does God still look for us? Yes. Every day. Feel the breeze from the gentle waving of a father’s hand to his beloved child, and the cool waves of octogenarian bike riders. It’s in those moments, and so many others, that God is looking for us, hoping that we’ll let ourselves be found.

What does it feel like to walk with God during the breezy time of day? Why hide?

Excerpt from 40 Days with God: Time Out to Journey Through the Bible by Kent Hickey © 2021 Published by Paraclete Press. Reprinted by permission.

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