Soul Food: How to Seek the Sacred in Every Day

“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.” We shouldn’t be testing God, begging Him to make Himself known to us. We should put our faith in Him no matter what.

Still, faith is fed by seeing—it’s just that it’s rarely in a literal sense. We must learn to see God everywhere, in the everyday world in which we live. The everyday world He made for us.

Exercises for Finding Holiness All Around You

God did make this world for you specifically. Your free will has carried you through the big and little decisions of life, but God knew where you were headed all along, and He crafted your world accordingly—anticipating your needs in each and every moment. Can you recognize His handiwork?

The divine can often be found even in the mundane, and spotting it is a balm to the soul on a weary day.

So next time you’re craving a chance to see God working in your life, give one of these exercises a try.

Record and reflect on three (possibly tiny) gifts for today.

Throughout the day, write down three of the delights you experience while going about your routine—big or small. Capture anything that made you smile: a child’s antics, a promotion, your pet’s warmth, your favorite song coming on the radio, affirmation from someone you love. Anything.

At the end of the day, look at the list. Ask yourself:

  • Why did these things make you happy?
  • What about your personality or history is reflected by them? How are these gifts wrapped up in bigger blessings (e.g., the people in your life or the place you live)?
  • How easily might you have missed these moments if your day went slightly differently, or if you weren’t paying attention?
  • Might any of them have answered some recent prayers, even in a small way?
  • What, if any, major or difficult decisions in your life led to any of these delights?

God made you uniquely you, and then He showered you with these small joys to feed your spirit—ensuring the world came together in such a way that you would feel His love in those moments. Contemplate these experiences deeply until you can see this patchwork of His tenderness for you.

When you can see how He has blessed even the small moments in life, it’s easier to ponder His bigger plans. Are you feeling aligned with God’s hopes for you? If you’re feeling separated, how can you draw nearer to Him based on the strengths and preferences He has woven into you?

Stand outside—no matter the weather.

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” – Saint Augustine

Step out the door and stand in the fresh air. Do not let your mind wander. Instead, spend five or ten full, actual, timed minutes and soak up the scene you are seeing in as much detail as possible. Imagine you’re a painter and will need to recreate the imagery on canvas, from memory. Notice the details:

  • What is the precise color of the sky? Are the clouds foreboding, puffy, wispy—or are there no clouds at all?
  • If it’s precipitating, how does it feel? Is the rain a fine mist, or heavy droplets—as if someone is watering you like a gardener with a hose? Is the snow light and fluffy, or heavy and dense?
  • Do you see signs of life around you? Notice how diverse or distracted any passersby appear to be. Look for birds, rodents, insects—anything moving of its own accord. How many miracles has God breathed life into here?
  • Are there buildings or other manmade structures in sight? How much work and creativity went into designing and erecting them? How much care goes into maintaining them?
  • What is the flora like? Is it looking healthy or withering? How many shades of green or brown can you count?
  • What time of day is it? What’s the season? How is this scene different, in this moment, from any other?

Once you’ve had a chance to soak it in, contemplate the depth of the whole world. How many beautiful, complex things are happening all at once, even when no one is watching? Consider that there are more than 7,000,000,000—seven billion!—other human souls on the earth, and each and every one of them can step outside at this moment, too, and see thousands of things that are unique to each of their experiences. Thousands of unique and beautiful things, times 7 billion perspectives.

God made all of this. He knows all of it, intimately, in every single nanosecond. He is with all of us at once, holding our hands and lighting our paths. Can you feel Him?

Pause to actively admire someone you passively admire.

We all have role models, mentors, friends, and beloved family members. There is someone in your life—perhaps someone you directly know, or perhaps an influencer or even a saint you admire from afar—who you look up to.

God’s greatest masterpiece is reflected in the face of each of His children. The human person is His most beloved creation, and it’s easy to see why if we look on one another with love.

So think of someone who you admire—someone who, in your eyes, embodies God’s love and works hard to live according to His design. Look for Him in that precious soul:

  • How did you come to know this person? In what ways have they spoken to you when you really needed it?
  • What do you know of their history? What adversity have they overcome to become stronger?
  • Why is this person, and the part they play in your life, important? How does God speak to you through this person’s influence?
  • What makes you similar to this person? What makes you different? Do these similarities and differences please you, or do they present opportunities for self-improvement? (Remember: You don’t have to completely mimic this person, because you are uniquely wonderful. Consider what you can learn from them, not how you can become them.)
  • Where can beauty be found in this person—and not just physical beauty, but spiritual? Keep in mind that scars and suffering can be beautiful, too, when they foster growth.
  • What makes this person unique? How did God make them different from anyone else you’ve known?
  • If you were to send this person a gift, what would it be? What would suit them specifically and why? (Then send it, if you can!)

Every single person on this earth has been loved by someone—at a minimum, by God Himself. That means every single person you pass by, or interact with online, or hear about through a friend, or whose name you read in the newspaper—each of them can be the subject of this reflection. And no two reflections will look the same.

Again, multiply that realization times 7,000,000,000. How vast is the creativity and compassion of a God who made each of those people so unique?

But First: Seek the Sacraments

To be clear: The best way to find the sacred is to go to church. Run there—do not walk—as often as you can. Spend as much time as you are able with Jesus in the Lord’s house. We should all strive to be like Padre Pio, who told his brothers: “When you want to find me, come near the Tabernacle.”

Immeasurable peace can be found in the sanctity of the church: in the floral scent of the incense, the soothing rumble of the organ, the beauty and detail of the artwork, the stories told by the icons, the ancient significance of the chants, the wisdom of the pastor, and above all, the nourishment of the Eucharist.

The liturgy is the single most profound setting—the most literal connection to Heaven—that we can immerse ourselves into in this life.

So please, always prioritize the sacraments if you are feeling far from God. He is there, waiting for you.

But when you can’t get to church—when you are limited to wherever you are in this moment—then seek out the sacred in the small. In the simple. In the everyday. You can find Him there, too.

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