Praying with Icons

Windows into Heaven

Reflections on Growing in Our Friendship with Christ

by Bishop David Motiuk, Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton


February 2023

Playing Hide and Seek with God

Praying with Icons. Windows into Heaven. Growing in Our Friendship with Christ.


            We are in Great Lent, working our way towards Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord.

            The forty days of Great Lent provide us with an opportunity to grow in holiness by making an extra effort to rid ourselves of anything that keeps us from loving God, neighbour, and self. We do so through the ancient “recipe” of Great Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

            Great Lent is our return to Paradise. It is our response to Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

            You see, Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, but without God. Sound familiar? We often times do the same today.

            With Adam and Eve’s original sin, sickness and death entered the picture. Oh, how we long to return to Paradise. Yet, it’s as if we’re standing with Adam and Eve at the Gates of Paradise, knocking and begging to be let back in, but the doors can only be open from the inside, by God.

            Church describes Adam’s lament in these words: “Adam ate the forbidden fruit and was driven from Paradise. He sat outside, weeping bitterly: ‘Woe to be! What will become of me, the worthless man? O holy Paradise, planted for me by God and lost by the weakness of Eve, grant that I may once again gaze on the flowers of your garden.’ And the Saviour said to him: ‘I do not wish the death of my Creation. I desire that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For him who comes to me I shall never cast out.’”

            That’s where our Lenten Journey comes in. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we repent for our sins and ask God to allow us to return to the Garden of Eden. And you know what, we’re in luck: through the Incarnation of God’s Son, that is, the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the impossible has become possible once again, for God actually wants us to be with God in Paradise!

            Let’s put this in terms of a childhood game we all once upon a time played. Our God is a God who sometimes likes to play Hide and Seek.

            In the game of Hide and Seek, you first pick someone to be “It” (the person to seek) then he or she turns around and counts with their eyes closed while the rest of the people hide.  Then It says “Ready or Not, Here I Come” and rushes to find everyone. The game continues until everyone is found.

            On that very first Easter morning, Mary was “It.” She was searching for Jesus, for his body which she presumed was still laying in the tomb. When she arrives and discovers that the tomb is empty, she encounters Jesus, whom she fails to recognize, taking him instead to be the gardener. Yet, it was Jesus himself, risen from the dead, the one whom she sought was found!

            In God’s version of Hide and Seek, God always wants to be found:  in his creation, in each other, in the young and the elderly, in the poor and the rich; in his word in the Bible, in prayer, in Church, in forgiveness, in the sacraments, and, in particular, in the Divine Eucharist.

            Yet, oftentimes we fail to recognize God in our daily lives. We’re like Mary. Jesus is standing before her very self, and yet she fails to recognize him. That same Jesus stands before us today, and each day. He wants a relationship with us.

            And this has always been God’s plan, from the very beginning, to be in relationship with his Creation.

            Recall Adam and Eve, our first parents. God gave them everything. Yet, they were not satisfied. They wanted to be like God. Adam and Eve, in sinning by eating of the forbidden fruit of the tree of good and evil, were the first to play Hide and Seek with God. In the Book of Genesis we read:

            Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”

            He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:8-13).

            Christ, the new Adam, in his resurrection has destroyed sin and death, and in this we rejoice. In the new creation, the game of Hide and Seek continues but with a difference. God never hides God’s face. God is always present to share in our joys and to carry us in our troubles.

            Yet, sometimes we are the ones who choose to hide from God – in our actions and in our inactions, in our shame and disgrace, in our absence from prayer and Church, and in failing to recognize the need in each other. We need not hide. God wants to be part of our lives, to bless us and to love us.

            This Great Lent, as we prepare for Easter, may we rediscover the joy of playing Hide and Seek with the innocence of a child. We may feel that at times God is hiding. But the reality is that God always wants to be found. And at times, we may choose to hide from God. With courage and humility in our hearts, may we choose to play the game again, allowing God to find us. For in this we will be blessed.

Praying with Icons. Windows into Heaven. Growing in Our Friendship with Christ.