Finding God in the Candy Jar

candy dish - image courtesy of Gretchen Crowder

Editor’s note: Today we kick off the 11th-annual 31 Days with St. Ignatius, our month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality. In addition to the calendar of Ignatian articles found here, posts on dotMagis this month will explore ways of Experiencing God in the Ordinary. The inspiration for our theme is the new book by William A. Barry, SJ.

God used to sit in a glass jar of candy on the edge of my desk.

Back before the pandemic, when my school was filled with students and I went to my office every day, I kept a glass jar of candy sitting on the edge of my desk. Every morning as my oldest son and I arrived at my school, he insisted on being the one to fill up the jar before I walked him to his own school nearby. It was his special job, and he was incredibly proud of it. As he grabbed handfuls of candy from my supply hidden in my cabinet, he always marveled at how the jar had miraculously emptied since he filled it up the day before. “Well, honey, people come by to eat the candy throughout the day,” I’d remind him. “That’s what it is there for.”

Inspired to give visitors the best candy, he worked diligently to place a good variety in the jar each day—shoving in as many little pieces as he could, even as they began to overflow onto my desk. “I put the best candy on top, Mom, for the person that needs it the most,” he would say.

Each day I got the unique privilege of watching the candy jar slowly empty as students and faculty alike staggered in. Some came just to grab a quick treat after lunch. Others came to get a small bite of sugar to relieve the stress of their day. Still others came by to linger and chat about everything and nothing.

As each piece of candy left the bowl, I was blessed with another glimpse of God right before me. It was just an ordinary bowl of candy that brought such extraordinary conversations and interactions daily. Occasionally, the candy and I would take a trip outside my office so that God and I could make the effort to reach others where they were.

You may find it quite odd for me to say that I found God sitting in a bowl of candy on my desk. But for me, it’s a demonstration that God comes to us in all sorts of ordinary ways, if we are just open to looking. If we wait to find God only in the extraordinary, we might just miss the moment God touches our hearts through a simple Starburst leaving a glass jar to enter the hand of one who needed it.

I had forgotten about the candy jar during my months at home, though I had missed the interactions of my colleagues and students every day. Then, one day recently my oldest son saw me struggling to condense the leftover Easter candy into a jar on our kitchen counter. He insisted on helping me, piling the candy as high as it would go. And once again, God was there with both of us, shining light through that colorful glass bowl.

We begin 31 Days with St. Ignatius with Five Things the Spiritual Exercises Taught Me About Jesus by Becky Eldredge.

Use the hashtag #31DayswithIgnatius on your favorite social media, and share the ways you’ve experienced God in the ordinary.

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