When I was on an annual canonical retreat in a warmer climate, I noticed the presence of bees working hard to get the sweet nectar from the flowers. They were flying all over the place, but they were friendly, just doing their jobs without being bothered by me. I did not get stung once! Hence, in those days of silent prayers, God spoke to me through the bees. Just like the bees who never thought that flying from one flower to the next to gather nectar was helping the plants though cross-pollination, every time we seek God and His sweet presence in prayers, we, also, like bees, unknowingly bringing and radiating His presence to others.
In an increasingly secularistic Western society and world where we are becoming more lost, motivated by constant bombardments of false hedonistic satisfaction, ruled by consumeristic fears, intimidations, and jealousy, out of sight and mind with the sacred reality, too many of us have become stuck in our own self-created pities, sorrows, and resentful thoughts because life is not fair and we do not have it all. Because of our desire to simply defining ourselves and wanting to be whoever we want to be at all costs, we have chosen to cut the ties with religion and from God, hence there is no longer any connection to the sacred that helps us to transcend beyond the mundane hustle and bustle of nothingness.
Our world has become a public show of numerous people and voices saying, “Look at me,” or, “Don’t listen to him or her!” People spend so much time arguing, competing, wanting to be the best, constantly worrying about getting the attention of others, that many of us have not taken the time to understand and discover who we are! We are so distracted, pulled all over, and deafened by the noisiness and competing voices of this world that our interior antennas are no longer in tune with God. We have become so busy trying to listen and pick up what others have to say that the Lord cannot reach us. We have become a society and world that say a lot but we have not really say anything (substantial) at all! All we have ever ended up is more finger-pointing, self-justification, condemnation, arguments, divisions, wars, conflicts, envies, jealousies, and the likes because many of us only chosen to speak but do not know how to listen. We have ended up with a world filled with many voices trying to compete for attention but those voices speak nothing truthful or life-giving to give us peace. In the midst of all these things, we have lost ourselves, forgetting who we are and what we are meant to be.
We are scared of coming to Mass and to prayers because we are scared of listening to God. Or in other words, we do not like the matters of faith because we do not know how to listen since we have spent so much time talking and being preoccupied with anything and everything! We have become a people so egocentric, worrying only about our miserable selves, whether we are attractive, have enough, or respected enough that we have lost sight of who we are created in Him. We often come to our relationship with God asking Him to grant us what we have asked instead of seeking His will. We would rather have Him serve our will instead of dying to ourselves in order to be humble, open, and receive what He wants of us so that His will be done in and through us.
We are scared of the silence because we are scared of hearing the things that we do not want to hear. We are scared of coming to God because we are scared of having to change our ways! Yet, only in listening to the Lord in the silence of our hearts through worship and prayer can we overcome our arrogant, self-centered attitude in thinking that He is at our disposal. Prayer teaches us that we are at His disposal, to humbly receive from our Creator with childlike faith, hope, and love. If we cannot come to prayer and worship with humility, meeting God where He is by listening to Him and humbling ourselves to be formed by Him, we only end up being spoiled children filled with much self-importance. While our world think that faith and prayer are infantile and superstitious, not worth our time or effort, it only hides its fragile fears of not being in control and not being heard because it is constantly saying, “Look at me!”
Nevertheless, spiritual intimacy is possible if we are humble. God speaks to us in different ways if we just learn to listen! Each of us has to learn how much time it takes us to truly calm down, shut off the exterior noises, open up our hearts, and dispose ourselves to listen to Him. It is scary and uncomfortable at first because we are not used to silence. It can be deafening at first because it takes time to let all those noises that we have grown accustomed to slowly dissipate. Trust me, it takes time! As a matter of fact, one can even feel one’s ears ringing at first as one tries to tune out the noisiness. Yet, as soon as we are able to let go of exterior noises and tune into the interior silence, we begin to hear different types of noise. We begin to hear the small, gentle, beautiful, and life-giving noises of creation, the plants, animals, all things speak to us about God. It is wonderful to hear that there is a loving language of all living beings, how our world is communicating with one another in the universe with the soft, almost silent voice! Furthermore, we will hear our own voices, as well as the temptations that will bombard us, and that takes time to tune out, too. And then, we hear the voice of God. He speaks in a very unique but loving way, it is neither a vocal or mental voice like we are used to, just a voice that is very gentle and faint that cannot be explained, pinpointed, or explained; but once our souls hear that voice, it will recognize and choose to rest in the outpouring and infinite love of the Creator.
All of the creation talks and gives noise. While some are very vocal and self-centered, others give praise to the Creator through their silent but powerful voice. The bees at the retreat center communicated to me about the presence of God even though they said nothing. Through their diligent works and simple dedication to what has been given to them by the Creator, they spoke to me eloquently about who they are and what is their purpose in life! They taught me that as long as we come to the Lord to receive His sweet blessings like nectars from flowers and plants — through worship and prayer — we can impact others tremendously in the most simplest ways. Without cross-pollination, many plants would die! Therefore, the bees, while focusing on receiving the sweet nectars are given a secondary purpose to pollinate their environment. In a similar way, when we come to the receive the Lord and what He has to give to us, His loving grace will transform us and we will naturally radiate his loving presence to everyone whom we will encounter.
St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata and many saints who went through the dark moments of life when they cannot sense or feel the presence of God continued on praying and loving Him. They never stopped praying. They persisted and kept coming back to the place where they encountered Him. Even though they could not feel His presence, His loving grace filled them without their knowledge. That was why the people around them could see Him through them, even at times when they could not feel His presence! The saints were like bees, faithful in their works, and their faithfulness was blessed tremendously. They pollinated the world with God’s radiating love because they dared to live as He called them to be without worrying about making a name for themselves. As they drew sweetness from their lives of worship and prayer, the Almighty radiated and gave His light to them to be shared and given to those who were around them. They have done all these things, not with the typical noisiness of this world, but with simple, soft, gentle, life-giving acts of love.
Therefore, let us be simple as bees and committed as saints in receiving His love through a life of dedication and prayer. May what we have received from the Lord be shared with those who are around us, not with words, but with a life committed and founded in the Him. Please remember that we can only give what we have, and if we do not have God and receive from Him in prayers, we have nothing substantial to give to others! May our dedication pollinate the world with simple acts of love that we have received in the silence of our hearts through prayers. May we help one another to see that true, life-giving gifts of self do not have to be noisy and egocentric, for it is through His holy presence and will for each and every one of us, we will transform the world (one person at a time). May we give the gift of God, centered and founded on faith enlivened through worship and prayer, to one another without the pretense and need for words.