John McGlone Seeker of Wisdom, servant of the most high, student
Throughout my life, I have had three consistent loves: God, my family, and nature. Although these 3 things have consistently stayed most vital to me, my relationships with each of them have changed over time. My three loves are also very interrelated. From a young age, my family promoted and instilled a love for God and nature. We bonded over these two things. For much of my life, these two loves, God and nature, went hand in hand. I have always looked at nature as one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Throughout my life, I have always felt closest to God when I am surrounded by his natural beauty. I had always found it most comfortable to pray and talk with God when I was outdoors.
I have been fortunate enough to have lots of beautiful experiences in nature. I treasure every one of them, whether it be the big things like being surrounded by thousands of geese while duck hunting or climbing to the top of Mount Elbert. I also value the smaller things, such as a good fishing trip or walking through the woods on a chilly spring day to admire the wildflowers. When I am out in nature, prayer seems almost involuntary to thank God for all the beauty around me. My favorite element, out of all of God’s creation, is the sunrise. No two are ever the same. Each sunrise is one of God’s masterpiece paintings.
"His radiance is like the sunrise; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power." - Habakkuk 3:4
These nature scenes become spiritual experiences, and I have always had the desire to share them with everyone around me. When you really love something, you don’t keep it to yourself. You share it with those around you, especially those that you care about. Most of my experiences in nature have been shared with my family and a few close friends. I took up photography so that I could share the beauty of and my love for all the aspects of nature like sunrises with everyone that I cared about.
When I was about 17, nature was my primary connection with God, and I enjoyed sharing my love for nature with others. The problem was that even though I loved God, I wasn’t actively sharing Him with others. I was very private with my religion and I didn’t recognize this as a problem. I was content. I prayed every day. I loved going to mass. I had a great group of friends who weren’t Catholic but were Christian. They are still some of my best friends. I loved growing in my Catholic faith with my family.
I thought, “I’ve got my relationship with God, and there’s nothing more that I need”.
There was so much missing in my life and I didn’t even realize it or I didn't want to face that reality.
When I got into college, I decided to go to a weekly spiritual event at the Saint Joseph’s University Ministry to see what it was all about. This was hands down one of the best decisions that I have made. I was prompted by the spirit to attend, and God used my “yes” to provide “glorious riches in Christ” (Phillippians, 4:19). I met a group of amazing young people who are passionate about their faith and really searching for something more out of life. This was a first. I was surrounded by a group of Catholics that were my age, who were open about their faith journey, their relationship with Christ Jesus, and who desired growing together in holiness. They welcomed me into their community, and as I got more involved, I realized how confused I had been. I realized that you don’t just have a relationship with God, and that’s it. There’s no limit to how deep your relationship with God can be. However, I mistakenly thought my faith had peaked. In reality, I had plateaued. I needed to be striving for holiness in the community of believers.
"We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly (local community of believers), as is the custom of some, but encourage one another...all the more".
- Hebrews 1-:24-25
I am continually motivated within the Saint Joseph Catholic Community to strive for a deeper relationship with God. I put more into prayer and every aspect of my relationship with Christ. As my love for God grew, God became the sunrise that I wanted to share with everyone around me. My love for God was now like my love for nature. I no longer wanted to keep it to myself. I wanted to share this relationship that I loved so much with others. I have learned a lot from my new community, and I am very thankful to have them as my friends.
Because of the Inspiration that I received from the parish community, I decided to share my love for God with family members and friends. I have seen God bring more good out of this than I could have ever imagined. I never thought that I could inspire anyone to grow closer to God in the way that others have inspired me.
"However, by asking God to use me to do HIS will and bring others closer to him, beautiful things have happened..."
As I said at the beginning of this reflection, my three loves have remained consistent. I love the Lord. My family is crucial. I still love nature and enjoy sharing the beauty of nature with others. I always feel very close to God while I am out in nature, but now I found another way to be close to Him, by living, breathing, and participating in a local Christian community. I feel most connected with God when I am trying my best to share His love and bring others closer to Him. This is no easy task, and I have much to learn. However, striving to put God at the center of my life and asking to be used by Him to reach others is the most fulfilling purpose that I can imagine.