I was standing on a balcony in a foreign country, talking to a dear friend. It was one of those cloudy days that tend to make me feel gloomy. The air was rather polluted.
I checked the weather from the balcony, hoping for a change of scenery. To my delight the sun poked out. “Thank you, God, for the sun,” I whispered. My friend couldn’t help but notice that I was conversing with God.
A few months later, I was sitting on a plane, flying home. My friend had given me a letter before take off. I was surprised to read that the way I noticed the change of weather and talked to God about it meant a great deal to her. She thanked me for setting an example of noticing God’s presence in the little things.
I find noticing God can look very different depending on your season of life. Long after my flight home, I was juggling many roles and feeling frustrated. Connecting with God just wasn’t the same.
In this season, my mentor recommended a book called The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. He was a monk, famous for how he would converse with God while doing mundane chores. For him, God seemed so close.
As I read, I longed to be in a place where I too could talk to God in every activity, no matter how important or ordinary. While doing dishes, folding laundry, or going on walks—in all that I do.
Read more about doing the dishes with Jesus
However the busyness of life seemed to keep getting in the way. I felt disappointed with my inability to notice God the way Brother Lawrence did.
Then I came across Gary Thomas’ Sacred Pathways: Nine Ways to Connect with God. He addressed my frustration in envying others’ spiritual walk by helping me identify how I most naturally encounter God in ordinary life.
One way I feel more connected with God is in being outdoors. Discovering my unique way of connecting with God was a turning point for me.
Now I immerse myself in nature as often as I can. Sometimes simply stepping outside and taking a deep breath can refresh my soul. I love the challenge of finding beauty in ordinary things.
I’ve started taking pictures of things that bring me joy. Whether they’re insects or flowers, or the fleeting moments of the golden hour, I’m trying to slow down and really see. When I am outdoors, my senses are fully engaged, and the beauty around me often helps me connect with God.
During the pandemic, walking has been my survival tool. One day, I needed to process some distressing news. I decided to go for a walk in the rain, with a letter in my hand for the mailbox. I was trying to walk off some steam.
I walked briskly to the mailbox. My plan was to walk back the longer way, so I could take time to reflect. As I turned around, I was stunned by the view. The sun was poking out after the rain, creating a rainbow—and more, a double rainbow!
I was speechless. The double rainbow reminded me of God’s promises. It felt like he was saying, “I got this, you can trust me, you are going to be OK.”
The people passing by were oblivious, minds and bodies focused on running their errands. I just stood there, speechless, forgetting why I was there in the first place.
Joy bubbled up inside me. Only God can take this seemingly ordinary moment and turn it into something extraordinary.
As I walked home, I thanked God for meeting me in my distress.
I didn’t expect to encounter God on my walk. But he knew that nature would catch my attention. Even in my ordinary life, he surrounds me with beauty.
Read more: God’s love written on an Irish sky
How do you connect best with God?
Aside from nature, here are some other common pathways:
- serving others
- learning and studying
- solitude, silence, and simplicity
- music and other arts
If you aren’t sure, take some time to reflect. What brings you joy? What do your friends and mentors notice about your relationship with God?
Whatever it looks like for you, I find that noticing God in the little things takes practice. Practice can look like:
- taking intentional time to reflect
- slowing down
- walking without your phone or earbuds
- engaging all your senses
Last and not least, practise expecting the extraordinary in the ordinary things. You never know where God might meet you.