Column: Don’t let noise of the holidays drown out God’s voice

Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.
Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Deacon Dana Nearmyer

God invented imagination. We are a church of wonder and possibilities because our God is creative and infinite.

I was in Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, the other day and a young boy was looking down from the top of the giant staircase leading into the cave, about 16 stories, and he asked, “Is God’s love and heaven as big as this enormous staircase?”

The cave guide, without missing a beat, said, “It is not even close. God’s love and heaven are way bigger!”

The kid’s question and the cave guide’s answer are templates for answering people’s real questions in a language that is both accurate and very understandable.

The General Directory for Catechesis teaches us to both really listen to people’s questions and to find language that is was to understand and that captures God’s infinite and intimate nature.

Wonder and awe are signs that we have experienced the divine. When we play catch with the kids, they ask really interesting questions. In fact, playing doll house, table tennis, tag and the many games that kids and grandkids often ask us opens doors that allow kids to both daydream and ask interesting questions that are knocking around in their heads.

Adults are the same way. When we go fishing or hunting, or shopping, take evening walks and other activities that let our minds wander, we allow ourselves the privilege to drift and wonder about things both infinite and intimate. That usually leads us to talking about matters of faith and reason.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a remarkable ministry in several of our parishes that allows kids 3-12 years old to wonder and drift while learning about the infinite and intimate nature of God.

CGS is a Montessori-based learning program. Questions and possibilities are explored and encouraged. The atriums, or classrooms, are laboratories that are built to the scale of the kids that explore there. Discovery, exploration and wonder are celebrated as kids ask questions.

CGS catechists are taught to cultivate students’ imaginations and help them discover God’s voice and presence. Atriums are generally sacred spaces where sound levels are low, so God’s voice can be heard.

I love GCS and my kids have treasured their atrium time, because it makes them aware of God’s presence and love that is all around them. GCS students are asked frequently, “What do you hear God is saying to you?” That it is normal for them to know that God is whispering to them and that God cares deeply about what they are wondering about.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving and fall family time, listen deeply to God whispering to you, play catch, take walks with those that you love. Be ready to be asked interesting questions about things infinite and intimate.

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