Tiny faith stories: How we experience God through relationships
God can often be found in relationships with others, even in the most unexpected ones. But it takes faith to recognize the motions of God in certain situations. We asked readers to share stories of surprising moments of faith in no more than 100 words. In these (very) short essays, they explain how they encountered God in others and their faith grew because of it. They show how the Lord is present even where we least expect God.
She grimaced in pain. As her hospice nurse, my goal was to keep her comfortable. But the morphine was not enough. Suddenly, her face softened. Her eyes looked past me. She craned her neck, her head slightly bent as if listening. “God says…” she said. I leaned forward, so curious. God says what?! “God says…” she said again. Her face was now the picture of peace. I waited. Silence. She never told me what God said. But that evening, I wondered if I had heard God’s voice speaking in the silence, telling me to lean in, telling me to listen.
Takoma Park, Md.
The bird seemed so present to me that I thought, if he could look at me that way, then Jesus, who created us both, could, too.
In 1973, I married a very sincere Catholic woman. I came from a nominally Protestant family. My denomination made little difference to me; I knew I wanted to be a man of service. But when our first child was preparing for her first Communion, I became more aware I was not able to fully participate in the Mass. I spoke with our parish priest and attended a Cursillo retreat. During Cursillo I finally understood the need for Christ in my life through the Eucharist. I then became C.E.O. of Kairos Prison Ministry International. I’m still trying to be of service.
John A. Thompson Jr.
Winter Park, Fla.
For some time after I was kicked out of Bible college, I struggled with the concept that God loved me individually, not just as part of mankind. After leaving, I worked in a cemetery cutting lawns for the summer. For a week straight, a bird—an Eastern flycatcher—would swoop down in front of the deck of my mower, grabbing insects that had been churned up. It would then perch on a headstone and observe me. The bird seemed so present to me that I thought, if he could look at me that way, then Jesus, who created us both, could, too.
Scot F. Martin
At a campus L.G.B.T.Q. meeting, my friend started a group chat and formed the rules. I liked the group but expected countless anti-Catholic grumbles because there are few religious L.G.B.T.Q. students on campus. That night, I looked at the rules: “Respect everyone’s opinions… not everyone hates the Catholic Church.” I felt seen and protected, being in a community I belong to, and knowing that someone there respected my connection to my faith community. It was the first time I wasn’t shown disgust for being Catholic; there was someone who had my back.
Grand Forks, N.D.
Three decades ago I was a 40-year-old who identified as a born-again charismatic Catholic. A strict sexual code was my primary yardstick for morality. Hatred, greed, violence and racial injustices ran a distant second in my hierarchy of sin.
One morning I walked into a neighborhood bakery and encountered a young gay man behind the counter. Try as I might to stir up a little self-righteous judgment, I found my heart was open to him. My life, my image of God and my spirituality were never the same. My prayer to know God had been answered.