This I Believe

Augustine - Saint Louis, Missouri
Entered on November 9, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe it is possible to see the face of God.

I am a Benedictine monk. My monastery runs a school, and last year I was given the great (though dubious) honor of teaching Theology to seventh-graders. I had twenty-two of them for the last period of class every day of the week. Now, no teacher in his right mind would ever choose to teach any subject during the last period of the day, and seventh-graders trump every other grade in the school for shear excitability. So we invented a game called “Stump the Monk” which we would play for the last five minutes of class if the whole group was very very good.

The best “monk-stumper” I ever heard came from a spunky, freckled little firebrand named Chad: “If God loves us so much,” he said, “then why doesn’t he just come down and show himself to us?”

“God does show himself to us,” I told him, “Every day.”

“Right. Right.” He answered with a sigh, “but what I’m asking is: Why doesn’t he personally, physically come down and visit with us?”

“He does!” I replied, “In all of creation, it is possible to discern the work and word of God.”

“That’s not what I mean,” he said, “I want to know why he doesn’t make personal, face-to-face appearances to people like me.”

“Well he does that too,” I said, “You just have to be patient.”

But Chad wasn’t going to be put off that easily. “So you’re telling me,” he said, “that you have personally, physically, met God face-to-face. You’ve seen him. You’ve personally seen the face of God.”

I looked him in the eye and I said, “Yes, Chad, I have.”

“Fine!” he said, “Then what does he look like?”

There was a nervous silence in the classroom as he and the other students waited for my answer. And for a moment or two, I was a little afraid I was going to have to back down. But the answer came to me like a gift from heaven. “Chad,” I said, “I have met God. Face to face. And you know what? He looks a lot like you.”

This I believe: that every day it is possible to see the face of God in the people around us. Even—and especially—the little ones.