A secretary was sitting at her desk one morning when a co-worker came running into the office all out-of-breath. "You wont believe this," he said breathlessly, "I was almost killed a minute ago. I had just left the deli where I buy my egg sandwich every morning. A police car with its siren and lights on was chasing another car down the street. The police car rammed the other car and everybody jumped out and started shooting. I was right in the line of fire! I heard the bullets whizzing by my head and everybody was running for cover. I'm lucky to be alive!" The secretary at her desk was quiet for a moment, then replied, "So, you eat an egg sandwich every morning?"
She missed the whole point of his story. But she's not alone! We are all in the habit of missing the point. As life pushes and pulls us in many directions, we dismiss what really matters. We spend so much time regretting the past and worrying about the future, that we miss the amazing experiences each present moment offers us, experiences that should lift our hearts. We fail to see what all creation is straining to show us : the awesome presence of a God who loves us unconditionally and is constantly with us!
Do you remember the popular reflection entitled "Unrecognized Blessings"? It reads like this: "The man whispered, 'God, speak to me,' and a meadowlark sang, but the man did not hear. So the man insisted, 'God, speak to me!' And the thunder rolled across the sky, but the man did not listen. Then the man looked up and said, 'God, let me see you!' and the night star shone brightly in the heavens, but the man did not notice it. So the man shouted, 'God, show me a miracle.' And a new baby was born, but the man did not understand. Finally the man cried out in despair: 'Touch me, God, and let me know you are here!' Whereupon God reached out and touched him, but the man brushed away the butterfly and walked on. In our lives there are many blessings. We miss them completely simply because they are packaged in ways we least expect."
That's what today's Gospel is about: learning to recognize and appreciate what is in front of us right now. Peter and his partners, experienced fishermen, had gone fishing the entire night without success. At the first light of dawn, their nets were still empty. So Jesus directed them to the spot in the lake where the fish were biting, and within minutes their nets were bursting with a huge catch of fish. Peter got the point immediately: This isn't about fishing at all. It's about how awesomely close God is to us. Peter realizes he is in the presence of God's Holy One, and he readily admits his unworthiness to be there.
All creation is straining to show us what Peter experienced that day on the lake. Look at a glorious sunrise, the innocence of a sleeping infant, the vastness of the star-filled night sky. Feel the beat of your heart, the lightness of a snowflake on your face, a summer rain on your skin. Smell the earthiness of a newly plowed field, the heady fragrance of a lilac bush, the delightful aroma of a steak on the grill. Listen to the songbirds' morning chant, the high-pitched cacophony of a million locusts, the full-mooned howling of a wolf pack. Everything is shouting the very same message, the message of the Creator telling us: "I am not in my heavens, I am not distant. I am reflected in everything and everyone I create for you. I am with you, within you, holding you in existence, in my loving embrace, offering you all my creation for your peace and joy.
Yes, God speaks to us through a new creation every moment. Are we alive and spiritually alert enough to notice? Peter and his friends were. They dropped everything, left everything, to follow God's Holy One wherever that would take them. Can we do the same? Will we?