God's Dwelling Is with the Human Race

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. God will dwell with them and they will be God’s people and God will always be with them as their God. God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.
— Rev 21:1-5

There’s a lot to pray with in the readings this Sunday, but the line that touched me the most is from Revelation: “God's dwelling is with the human race.”

The all-powerful creator of the universe chooses to dwell with us. I often take that for granted, but when I stop to think about it, I’m astounded. And God doesn’t just choose to be with us from afar, but intimately with each of us at every moment, with every breath, with every blink of the eye. With every joy and sadness, God is there.

Do you live into that knowledge? I mean, do you walk around every day knowing that God is with you? I sure don’t. Sometimes I’m oblivious to God’s presence, and there are even times when I doubt that God is with me, usually when I feel uncertain or afraid or distressed. That’s when it’s hard to trust that God is really there.

However, there are other times when I am gifted with a felt sense of God’s presence. Do you have those moments too? What does God’s presence feel like to you?

For me, when I’m intentional about being aware of God, I usually find God. I know God is present when a line from a song or a Scripture passage speaks to how I’m feeling. I also notice God when I see connections between circumstance and things that seem like coincidences come together. I know God is there when something in nature surprises or delights me. Last week I was on retreat, and as I was praying one evening, a bunny, who had been methodically hopping through the yard eating grass, suddenly began to run in circles, leaping, racing, tossing its ears like it was dancing, like it had a spontaneous onset of joy and had to move with it. It was almost too cute for the human eye. I took it as a sure sign of God.

I also experience God’s presence through people. When someone listens to me with compassion and without judgement, I feel loved. God is there. When I work with others on something that’s important to all of us – a common mission, like a significant event in my community or a collaboration with my coworkers at the convent – I feel God guiding us. I always sense God in our God Space small groups. The other night we were sharing very deeply about this reading from Revelation. There was an extended time of silence when we sat there together, listening to the rain falling outside, and we were just with each other. I had a moment of profound gratitude. God was very much with us. What happens in our small groups is a holy thing.

The rest of this reading from Revelation is about change; the old order is passing away, and God is making all things new. It’s meant to be reassuring. Afterall, change can be a good thing. However, it can also be hard. Sometimes I don’t want the old order to pass away. I want things to remain as they are. But I take great comfort in the fact that God is with me – with each of us – during hard times. Here we are in the Easter Season, a sign that God always brings redemption and resurrection to every circumstance. We just have to trust that movement of dying and rising. And trust that God is in it with us.  

May we continue to be God’s presence for each other. May we reach out to those in the greatest need and be God’s presence for them. And may we take time to notice the ways that God is intimately with us at every moment.

By Sister Leslie Keener, CDP

Sister Leslie Keener, CDP is the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She’s a Sister of Divine Providence with a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University. She directs retreats, meets with people for spiritual direction, and serves as the vocation director for her community. She also serves on the Coordinating Council of Spiritual Directors International. She enjoys music, meaningful conversations, and dancing.