A good friend of mine says that God often speaks to us through “nudges.” A nudge is a prod, a gentle poke, an invitation that draws our attention. A “God-nudge,” according to my buddy, is something we experience through our intuition that calls us to deeper wholeness and balance. To inspiration.
Perhaps one of the biggest God-nudges I’ve experienced was about 25 years ago when I got a poke to spend time with God—every day. I was in the midst of those busy years—raising four small children with my wife, building my career as a lawyer, and trying to juggle too many balls each day. On the outside, we looked like a Norman Rockwell family. But on the inside, I was often overwhelmed, fearful I’d drop one or more of the important balls I kept in the air.
One evening, trying to be the good Catholic I’d been raised to be, I attended a workshop at our church on wisdom. I learned that wisdom—a word we don’t pay much attention to these days—comes from plugging into God. Spending time each day with the Creator is like plugging into the spiritual electricity that lights our lives, much like electricity lights a lightbulb. And the way we plug into that wisdom, that Divine Inspiration, is not through our minds, but through our hearts—the place where our souls are located.
Something nudged me that evening to be bold and ask the presenter, “So, tell me,” I asked, “how can I plug into this Divine Wisdom in the midst of my busy life?”
“I’m glad you asked,” he responded. “Before you go to bed this evening, I want you to set your alarm clock half an hour earlier than usual.
“When the alarm goes off, get up, get out of bed, get a cup of coffee or tea and then go into a room where you can be alone for 20 minutes.
“Then, light a candle, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and simply be present to God.
“If your mind begins to wander—which it will do—ask God for a simple word or phrase to center you. Let the word become an anchor into your heart. Gently come back to the word whenever your mind drifts.
“After 20 minutes, gently open your eyes, and feather into the rest of your day.”
Then he paused. Looked directly into my eyes and said, “Continue this practice for the next 7 days so it becomes a habit.”
Although I was resistant, my intuition told me to try it. I had nothing to lose—except maybe a little sleep.
So, I did. And after 25 years of starting my day quietly with God, I’m more aware of the Creator’s guiding presence. I feel his touch upon my heart.
Richard Rohr says that we are in the midst of a spiritual revolution. People are tired of trying to intellectualize their way to God, because it doesn’t work. Our minds are not capable of grasping, much less experiencing, the Divine Nature of God. Instead, Rohr says, we’re being invited individually and as a culture to return to the ancient tradition of meditation, to rediscover those practices the sages before us relied upon to hear and experience the voice of God—the voice of Divine Wisdom. This, Rohr says, is the work of Grace.
We need look no further than Jesus to know that Rohr is onto something. Through his daily times of sitting alone with his Father, Christ pointed us to what the early Christians came to refer to as The Way—the way Christ connected with the Father and his Divine Wisdom.
Scripture tells us this about Jesus’ daily practice: “Rising early in the morning, he went off to a lonely place in the desert; there he was absorbed in prayer.” Mark 1:35.
If during his earthly life, the Son needed this time alone with his Father each day—time to remember who he was and who he was not, time to plug into God’s direction and guidance—how much more do we need that time too?
I can’t do this thing called life on my own. It’s simply too hard and confusing. And during times when life is good, I need to sit alone with the Creator and rejoice so I can remember the Divine Spirit of God is with me, with you, all the time—leading and loving us.
This Advent, perhaps you might hear a God-nudge too, urging you to deepen your connection with Divine Wisdom by plugging into Divine Electricity each day. Listen and follow that Advent Nudge. What have you got to lose, other than maybe a bit of sleep?
—brian j plachta
Can you forgive yourself for being perfectly human?