100-Word Faith Stories: (Very) short essays about unexpectedly experiencing God in the world today
God is in all things. But we don’t always expect to feel God’s presence in a particular moment or place. We asked readers to share these stories of surprising moments of faith and grace in no more than 100 words. These (very) short essays about unexpectedly experiencing God in the world today include feelings of joy, sadness, laughter, anger and anything in between. They demonstrate the many ways in which God is with us, if only we would take the time to notice.
Two parents and four boys make a small house feel like a sardine tin packed with firecrackers. I had my eye on a larger fixer-upper nearby. But despite its apparent practicality and my eagerness, my husband wasn’t enthused. I suggested a quick attempt at discernment: Pray one Hail Mary while imagining we had settled on each choice, buy or stay.
We both felt God’s presence. The “Stay” prayer brought unwelcome but undeniable inner peace. “Buy” brought anxiety rather than excitement.
I could only respond, “Thy will be done.” Our house is cramped and noisy, but we’ll stay for now.
My sons and I were enjoying the wave pool at our local amusement park on a beautiful sunny day. There was the usual crowd of people—of different ages, from different neighborhoods and cultures—all enjoying the pool. I closed my eyes and was suddenly aware of the joyous cacophony. All the voices, screams and laughter of my siblings, my fellow children of God. I was awestruck, and with my eyes still shut, I smiled broadly, and I thanked God for that sudden grace of connection and awareness.
My husband is a stroke survivor; I’m his caregiver. Ron has balance issues, garbled speech and swallowing difficulties. Once the primary breadwinner, Ron’s now on SSDI. I struggle to bring in money while handling the numerous responsibilities of caring for my husband and household.
Earlier today I read the abandonment prayer of the newly canonized St. Charles de Foucauld: “Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.”
I am now at peace.
North Olmsted, Ohio
At my first holy Communion, when I was 7 in 1958, I came up to the altar and was so small I had to stand rather than kneel at the rail. The priest approached and put the host on my tongue. I felt drawn out of myself, forgetting where I was, feeling a sense of presence. It was like being a mini Samuel, and I said to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” My love for the Eucharist continues to this day.
William Eagan, S.J.
I invited my all-white classmates to Mass at my Black Catholic parish. During Mass, my friend nudged me, “Lee, we’re the only white people here.” I responded, “Frank, how do you think…” but before I could finish my statement, Frank added, “Lee, I never thought about you that way.” The experience helped him to see my struggles as the only Black kid in our classes. We had just had a class that taught we were made in the image and likeness of God. We saw that in one another more clearly now.
New Orleans, La.
As I walked a labyrinth, I couldn’t shake the image of playing hide and seek with God. Shrubs around the path made me alternately feel hidden and then exposed. I know God is always there waiting for me, but I often “hide.” I fear I haven’t done enough, or I’m not good enough to earn God’s love. But those doubts come from me, not God. Although I may think I’m hiding, God sees and loves me. When I embrace God’s unconditional love, I will grow into the person he created me to be.
Deep in grief as I grappled with my husband’s determination to divorce, God felt absent, my faith rocked. My friend, Sister Noreen, told me to read the Bible. I mocked her. Unfazed, she insisted: “Open it at random. What have you got to lose?” On March 19, as I opened a newly purchased Bible, I cried: “God where are you?!” My eyes fell upon Jer 29:11. “For I know the plans....” I can still feel the jolt that coursed through my body at that moment—in shock and joy—the first of many such moments since then.
Mary Margaret Cannon