How Have I Found God?
I was asked by the Chaplain's Office to give a presentation next week for their series entitled "How Can I Find God?" I've known about this since late December. Since then, I've been thinking about what I can say, what personal anecdote I can share that's unique and original, and most importantly, a genuine answer to this timeless question. I've been struggling with it, needless to say. To be able to answer this question, I've posed myself another question: How have I found God?
Of course, this question does not have a simple outright answer either. But gradually, I've been coming to some significant realizations. Other than the very general response, "I find God in everything," I can say that I have found God in my relationship with all that is external to me: nature, my relationships with my family and friends, my studies, what I have read, concerts and sporting events that I have attended -- all of these, for I always am in awe of what humanity is capable of feeling, doing, building, thinking, and this is accompanied by the realization that all that we have has been invested in us by God.
But there is another, less obvious place where I have found God: in me. In my own head, in my prayers, in my hopes and aspirations, as well as in my sorrows and regrets. My every action and my every pursuit in life is directed by what I have received and accepted as the Christian tradition -- perhaps it is an exaggeration for some when I say my every action and pursuit -- but when one has been raised as I have, nurtured by a whole Armenian Christian community, the members of which constitute my every being, my every quality -- intrinsic and extrinsic -- then even when I am not thinking about God, my subconscious must in some way be affected.
I dare not sound righteous or overtly pious with this statement. Instead, what I am trying to relay is this notion of inner sanctum, that every soul and being is a sanctuary, a mini-church. In the Armenian Orthodox Church, every Christmas and Easter, priests will bless the homes of their community members. This is in recognition of every home being a mini-church, a place to educate one's children in the Christian traditions and teachings. This reminder is given to us not just during the Home Blessing Service at Christmas or Eastertide however, but throughout the year, each and every day as most every Armenian home will have either The Lord's Prayer engraved on a plaque or even woven into an oriental rug hanging on their walls. Or there will be a carved khachkar (literally meaning "stone cross") on a visible shelf, somewhere in their home. And so, along these same lines, I have come to the conclusion that even if there were no churches, if they were destroyed as many of the most beautiful ones were destroyed in Historic Armenia during the 1915 Armenian Genocide, our Christian precepts would still prevail because there is always the opportunity to find God in ourselves, and to cultivate this relationship for all eternity.
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