Sunday, March 27, 2011

Knowing You

"Jesus had to go through Samaria, to a town called Sychar. A Samaritan woman came to draw water at the well. Jesus told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.' 'I have no husband', she replied. Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband.' . . . .The woman left her water jar and went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? " [John 4: 1-29].

When I was a child, I longed for someone to know me, to understand me, to provide what I needed.

If I was tired, I was told that no, I was not tired and I did not need a nap. So I would put myself down for naps.  I was five years old at the time! If I was cold, I was told that I was not cold and I was forbidden to fetch a sweater. If I was hot, I was told that it was not hot, and I was denied a fan to keep me cool enough to sleep. If I did not like dinner, I was told that I WOULD like it and if I did not eat it, there would be nothing else. Not even a piece of bread and butter.

After awhile, I stopped asking for things. I stopped speaking. I gave up on humans. Physically and emotionally, I "disappeared".

But the key point here is that GOD never gave up on ME. For He knew me!

This reminds me of one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 139: "O lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord. . . . Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain".

God-- and Jesus-- know me so thoroughly, it is too thrilling for me to fathom.

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we thirst for Someone to see us as we really are.  How we thirst for someone to truly know us! To see through us, to our innermost needs and spirit! To me, this at first seemed a bit spooky. But, in the end, I realize that it is the Total Love I never knew.

I do not mind that God also sees all my faults, all my mistakes, all my doubts and failures. What a huge RELIEF that I do not have to hide or dissemble or pretend. Masks, walls of defenses, and false pretenses do not work with God or Jesus. 

Not only do they not work, they are not necessary. We do not need to explain ourselves to God. He knows us completely. He knows fully what is in our hearts.

When I enter my church, my Walls come down. Tears well up, because all of the stress and the extreme effort that I put into maintaining a safe exterior immediately melt away. They are tears of joy. With God, I am my pure Self.

With God, I am like a Porous Veil. I seek God and He knows me. He knows what is on my mind before I even have to utter a word.

Lord, I long for you to know me in my inmost heart. I thirst to give and receive your love, Jesus, with an open and pure heart.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Holy Vessel

"God sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!' Mary was greatly troubled at his words. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.. . . . Nothing is impossible with God.'  'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.'  " [Luke 1: 26-37]

The Christian calendar is confusingly compressed. Almost as soon as Advent is over, Jesus is born; then we have but a few weeks and Lent begins. We careen from waiting for the blessed baby to be born, into the Lenten waiting for His death.

Now, in the midst of Lent, it feels like Christmas again, with this Scripture about how Mary learned that she would bear the Christ child. This is called "Christmas in March". (Hunh?) And yet, the timing makes sense. Christmas is only nine months away from the Annunciation celebrated today.

In the middle of Lent, we are in a stark desert landscape, in deep prayer, fasting, dreading the day that Jesus is marched to his Crucifixion. Yet once more God lifts us up in the midst of our pain, once by the Transfiguration. Once by the Annunciation.

And the joy is that a simple peasant girl from a tiny village has been called by God. The miracle is that God came to such a lowly woman. An even greater miracle is that she was so very afraid, but she said, Yes!

I remember a few years ago now, when my best friend was diagnosed with cancer. She was married and had two young children. She called me with the diagnosis. We both knew it was serious.

She told me that her family was overwhelmed and she asked me to sort to "take over". I was stunned. I stammered, 'But how will I know what you need?' She said, 'Do what you would do. Do what you think is right. I trust you.'

When I told my husband what I was asked to do, he said, "You are NOT going to try to do this yourself, are you?!"

You see, I thought at the time that I WAS alone. I sort of panicked about how I would know what to do, let alone how I could pull it off. I could not say no to my best friend, but I did not know how I could say Yes.

Then, miracles happened. People showed up at my door offering things or services that I did not even know this family needed. Probably the most amazing circumstance was when my friend wanted to try carrot soup because her doctors told her that a nutrient in carrots could help her condition. But she had no recipe and she needed a lot of carrots! And meanwhile, a local mom had a huge windfall of carrots from a cooperative farm and was wondering what on earth she would do with all those carrots. So the local mom called me and asked if my friend would like some carrot soup. ???!!!!

I had NO idea what I was doing in this effort.

But somehow, everyday, I understood what had to be done.  The effort to help my friend meant I had to open myself up, to trust God fully, that I could be a vessel, a medium for His love and mercy. I was scared and at times overwhelmed, but God was always present at my side.

And today, I say, thank God, I did say, Yes.
God, may I trust in Your call upon me and know that You are always there, because I know that 'Nothing is impossible with God!'

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


" Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. The Tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  Jesus answered, 'It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'." [Matthew 4: 1-4].

Recently, a  book was published entitled, "Eat. Pray. Love." It details the spiritual journey of a woman recovering from a nasty divorce. She eats her way through Italy. She prays in India. Eventually she finds love again.

In catalogues, you often see bracelets, inspirational plaques, keychains that say: "Live. Love. Laugh."

What is going on  here? What are we looking for? Peace . . . . Compassion. . . . . Something Larger than ourselves.

When I read Matthew 4, I get a very different prescription than these contemporary messages . This Scripture teaches Fast, not Eat. It teaches us to Pray. And to Give, not Love.

During Lent, we Christians practice these three things, even more than ever:         Fast. Pray. Give.

We fast because Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone."

I have to say I really do not like this Fasting one bit. I struggled with getting enough to eat as it is, as a child. Sometimes I went to bed hungry. I developed a "Food Strategy". (A child in grade school should not have to have a Food Strategy.) I ate a lot in the school cafeteria because I knew that I would not get enough to eat at home. I would hoard any candy given to me in my room and eat only a few pieces a week.

So what is this Fasting we must do?

For me, there are all kinds of Fasting. It can be simply about not giving full play to the excesses around me.  I make my fasting about my Redemption. It is about getting enough to eat now, and eating all the things my body needed as a child. So I do not waste my time on excess amounts of sweets, soda, salty snacks. It is about honoring my body as a temple from God.

It is also about avoiding the other excesses that have become our modern traps -- overload on media, overcrowding my schedule, wasted speech such that descends into gossip, stocking up on things I do not really need.

A priest would counsel being obedient to God. Sometimes towards the end of the day, I almost resent the sunset, because my day is over and I have so many things yet on my To-Do list.

So I invented  a more sacred way to "put the day to bed". In a pretty basket, I have written down on slips of paper all the quiet things I could do for about half an hour, before the bustle of dinner time, homework duty, and bath time drag me screeching into the night. Quiet things like writing in my journal, listening to music, doing needlework. I have my son pick a slip out of the basket. This determines what I will do for my Quiet Time.

This is an exercise in Obedience because I am forced to accept doing that one thing, to the exclusion of all the others.  I am forced to let go of all the other things on my plate. I am forced to tell myself that this one thing is worth doing and doing well.  So then I sit and engage in my Quiet Time with focus and clarity, being mindful of the present moment. It is like a retreat. It is like a prayer.

God, in my Fasting, may I know that I live not only by the earthly things that I need, but by everything that comes from Your Word!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


"After six days , Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." [Matthew 17:1-2]

"Transfiguration" means a supernatural transformation in appearance.

I admit that I am a newer Catholic, and I used to get confused about The Transfiguration, thinking it represented Jesus' death and rising, his ultimate exaltation with His Father, in Heaven. I used to think this event came AFTER the Crucifixion.

Of course, I was wrong. No person saw Jesus actually rise to Heaven after his Crucifixion. All anyone saw was the stone rolled away. And that Jesus was "gone".

No, in fact, The Transfiguration was a supernatural Vision. It came before Jesus' walk along the long road to his Crucifixion, on what we know as Palm Sunday; before the cheers and jeers, before his suffering on the cross.

In that sense, the Transfiguration was not Jesus' final ascension. But it was a prophesy, because it prefigured Jesus' ultimate ascent into Heaven.

And I see this Vision and prophesy as a huge gift! It speaks to the ability of God to come to us in all His glory, before we even know that we are going to need Him so desperately. Just the way that Jesus and His disciples experienced God's glory, before the extreme suffering of the Crucifixion.

The Transfiguration vividly displays all the ways in which God, through Jesus, can come to us, can call to us, can even transform us.

In the past, at a time when I thought my life was relatively peaceful and uneventful, I have felt God's infinite Presence. He has called me closer to Him in various ways. Sometimes by manifesting Himself to me in quiet moments when I have been alone. This happened to me just before I was to undergo perhaps the most devastating and traumatic experience of my life. I think God was coming to me as my Infinitely Strong, Infinitely Peaceful Creator. This experience made me think of, "Be still and know that I am."

God knew the trial that was to come my way. He knew that I would need Him in so many deeper ways. He knew that with His deeply felt presence in my mind and in my heart, I could withstand this trial with so much more strength, by leaning on Him. In His love, He came to me before I would suffer.

Or I think about the time He called me to convert and therefore, to receive my First Holy Eucharist in decades. I have to say I fought the timing on that one! "Why, God!?", I would protest, "Why now?" My father had died abruptly one day that previous spring, here one moment, gone the next. My best friend was dying. I had my frail mother to care for. This so did NOT seem the time to go through RCIA!

I kept stalling, but the call was so insistent, I obeyed. The timing remained a mystery to me until -- right after conversion -- when my best friend died. I was able to receive the Eucharist at her funeral! THIS was why God called me to His side so relentlessly! It turns out He was right, I really did not have any time to waste, trying to decide whether to come closer to God.

I love The Transfiguration because it is Jesus in His most supernatural form. It shows God's extremely generous Love for us, His capacity to rescue us before we can even realize or foresee the danger, the pain, the isolation.

 But the Vision also reminds me that Jesus is there for us in all His forms, as well: as a young teacher preaching in the temple, as the shepherd of His flock who knows all His sheep by name, as the Fisher of Men who calls us to immediately drop our nets and follow Him; as the Prophet who says, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." [Matthew 16:25].

God, may You come to me, even at times when I do not know that I need you. And may You come to me in the form and in the way that I need You the most!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

My mother was 100% English and she raised us that way. I was told, firmly, that I was English.

She served kippers with our scrambled eggs, not bacon, because "this was our heritage."  We had tea every day at four o'clock. She dressed me in a duffle coat, the official woolen coat of the British army. We had plum pudding for Christmas dessert. As much as I loved how the pudding was set afire with brandy, I refused to eat it, with its dried fruit and sour, beef tallow taste. I longed to eat chocolate cake on Christmas, like our Irish neighbors did.

There was nothing wrong with my mother raising us in her thoroughly English way, except for one thing. My Nana on the other side of the family was 100% Irish. Every once in awhile, I would bring up my Irish Nana and the subject would get quickly changed.

Every summer, the heat would bring out the thick curls in my hair and highlight my Irish freckles. And I would cry to my mother, about the freckles, "Make them go awaaay!" If it was bad to be Irish, the freckles would be a dead give-away. I wanted to hide my freckles, so I could hide my Irishness.

For years, even as an adult, I wore my hair in a blunt cut, and every day, I straightened it with a broad hair brush and my hair dryer.

Given all the bias against the Irish, going way back to the 1800's, maybe my parents were just trying to protect me. The Irish were the "great unwashed" immigrants. They were considered drunks, unclean; backward and superstitious with their Catholic religion; lazy etc. Some remember the Irish being compared to "Negroes" or even dogs. As in, "No Irish Or Negroes Need Apply."

The fallout from this anti-Irish prejudice is that I never knew who I really was. It was painful. I thought there was something wrong with ME.

It was not until I was married and a mother that I found out the truth:  my Nana was the Irish housekeeper and  nanny before she married my widowed grandfather. You would think, the Truth hurts. Instead it was a relief. Finally I understood the curls, the freckles, the milk-and-cream complexion. The longing to go to church, a place of deep faith.

Years later when I began to seriously consider converting to Catholicism, I called the pastor of the Catholic church. I asked him, How do you know if you are Catholic?

He said, It comes down to the people you are drawn to, the ones you see as "your people". I thought of how I am with my Irish cousins. They have the same thick hair and freckles. I transform from being quiet, even timid, to outgoing and talkative. I finally feel like my own True Self.

When I got off the phone with the pastor, I cried. But it was tears of joy. Finally I knew the Truth. I am Irish. I can be Catholic if I want to be! I do not have to hide any longer.

Sometime later, I saw my Irish geneology in black and white, e-mailed from a cousin in another country. I saw that our common ancestor had come to the New World in 1749 : FROM IRELAND! It was really true! I burst into tears again. This was me. Irish.

Finally, one thing that clinched my conversion was something an Irish cousin said to me, quietly, "I think that you know who you really are!" This was not an accusation. It was a validation. It was like coming home.

When I called the pastor, he not only invited me into his church, he had given me my identity back! I had had the courage to call and ask that one, critical question, "Who am I called to be?"

It was, "Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door shall be opened to you!"

So I see St. Patrick's Day as an affirmation of who I am. I see it as a holiday that celebrates that we can ALL be who we truly are, in our hearts! No matter that I am only one quarter Irish. I have the hair and the freckles to prove it.

I can finally say: "I am Irish. I am Catholic." At last, I have an identity.

"Erin Go Bragh!" [Ireland Forever!]

[Related Posting: " My Irish Heart", March 14, 2012].

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Lent

"Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil." [Matthew 4:1]

Jesus went into the desert to fulfill God's plan for him to resist Satan and his temptations. It was only after Jesus was baptized, and emerged from the desert victorious against Satan, that Jesus could truly be said to have launched his ministry.

How many times are we led into a dark place and we cry out, "God, I do not want to be here!" ? We cannot believe how much despair we must endure, how difficult it is to find our way out of the maze we find ourselves in.

Feeling weak and lost, we are prey to our worst tendencies:  the temptation to speak hurtfully, to harbor anger, to blame God and turn from Him, to lose ourselves in drinking too much or spending too much or in the false sense of hope in our own power.

Sometimes it feels like God is testing me too. . .

Several years ago, during Lent , my best friend's cancer came back after almost a year of treatment. A couple of weeks later, my father died suddenly and my life changed utterly. This was my Lent.

The following Lent, my frail mother had come to live with me. Suddenly after a lifetime of misunderstandings and hurt, she became my responsibility. Then, my best friend lost her long battle with cancer. This was my Lent.

The Lent after that, my mother died. Suddenly, I actually missed the care I gave her, the care that used to feel like such a burden. This was my Lent.

This year, I am seeking to understand all that has happened to me in my life. I am trying to transform the hurts and traumas into blessings, for both myself and others.

Lent is reflective time, spent in a dark place, not usually a time or place of our own choosing. I have a hard time accepting that it is all part of God's plan for us. Certainly, He does not inflict these wounds ON us.

But if He sees that we face our crises, our dark times with prayer, with humility, with always seeking Him and always straining to follow the Spirit leading us out of the desert, yes, I guess He does have a plan for us.

I have emerged from my deserts stronger, and in a way victorious, as well. During my Lent's, I have chosen a church, received Holy Communion for the first time in decades; I have meditated and prayed my way through many painful memories; I have lit candles, and striven mightily to forgive those who have mistreated me.

I have become Wiser. Stronger. More Humble. More dependent on God than ever.

What is YOUR Lent?

God, as I traverse the desert, in the company of the Spirit, may I always know that in the end, You have a plan for my victory!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Kill

If you read Genesis, God formed the first Man and the first Woman, and made them in His own image. [Genesis 2].  So it is a very simple and sacred concept:  Life, which comes from God, is a precious gift.

How to reconcile this with the fact that in the United States, the death penalty is legal in 34 states? And that in 1976, the U.S. Supreme ruled that the death penalty is Constitutional.

Many years ago, I was a victim of a violent crime. It is funny how, in the aftermath of a crisis, one's mind fixates on seemingly irrevelant things. After the assault, I was obsessed that I could not find one of my earrings. (similar to how I was compulsive about getting our Christmas tree down and out of the house, just before our son was born; when we did not yet have a car seat, or baby clothes, or his room painted!)

In the hours and days after the assault, I realized that I had stared death in the face. I survived, but it was terrifying,the stuff of which nightmares are made. My life changed from that incident and in a very gut wrenching way. But I came to realize that the last thing I would have wanted was for the attacker to die as well. Life became even more  precious to me: not just my life, but all life!

If death is traumatic, more death is barbaric, especially if the killing is intentional, and most especially if it is carried out by the state.

Recently, my son listened to a talk at his school about capital punishment. He came home choked up and told me angrily, "The State cannot do that! How can they kill someone, no matter what he did? Only God decides who lives and dies!" That is as compelling an argument as any, considering he is only in grade school

Amnesty International has years ago issued a position that the death penalty is contrary to human rights and should be abolished. The United States has opposed that position. Even Canada, our neighbor to the north, abolished the death penalty in 1976. How can we with a straight face criticize the human rights violations of other nations, when the death penalty is so widely legal here at home?

You can argue that the death penalty deters crime. It does not. Crime is just as high, if not higher in states with the death penalty.

You can say that it achieves justice for the victims. It does not. Many victims and victim's families are vehemently opposed to the death penalty.  The death of the perpetrator does not bring back the victim. I can assure you that it does not put the victim's mind at ease or heal the pain either.

You can say that it is cheaper in the long run to put the criminal to death. I find this to be an extremely distasteful argument. But if you must make it, no, it is not cheaper.

People say that if you oppose the death penalty, you are "soft on crime". I hated what the attacker did and I think he should sit in prison for the rest of his life. But I do not think that he should be executed for what he did.

You can argue that the death penalty knows no bias, that it is a penalty based only on people's choices. In fact,
42% of death row inmates are African American, way out of proportion to their being only 12.9% of our population.

Do people of color simply commit more crimes? How about the fact that DNA testing has exonerated about 139 people who were on death row? Eventually we must confront the fact that people of color lack resources, legal or otherwise, for their defense. And what a mistake to make: wrongly imprisoned is bad enough, wrongly put to death is a fatal mistake.

What can you do?

There is more information about the Catholic church's position on the death penalty at

Host an Abolition Sunday at your parish, to write letters against the death penalty to your state representatives. Will this do any good? A few years ago, the death penalty in NY was abolished, so it can happen!

Consider joining a local network to abolish the death penalty. These groups advocate with the legislature, provide speakers to help educate others about capital punishment  and provide written information about the death penalty in your state or in the U.S. In CT, get in touch with CT Network to Abolish the Death Penalty.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Invisible Catholic

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. This is the day that Catholics go to church and receive ashes on their forehead in the sign of the cross. It is a sign of our repentance, a symbol of our deep commitment to following Christ and His teachings.

Certainly, this is a very visible and obvious mark of a Christian and especially a Catholic. It is even more of a conspicuous symbol than wearing a gold cross or a St. Christopher's medal.

It has never been easy being a Catholic. The early Christians suffered persecution, going back as far as St. Paul and St. Stephen.

Jesus said, "They will hate you because of me." [Matthew 10:22]

This intolerance continues today. When I used to work in a big downtown building, a Catholic co-worker went to noon Mass on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes. At a meeting after lunch, someone pointed out, "Uh, you have dirt on your forehead!"  I chalked this up to ignorance.

Then, a relative came home from work saying that a co-worker asked him "What ARE you?" He replied, "An American." The person insisted on asking again. The topic of religion came up. My relative said, "Ok, I am Catholic."

The co-worker's response: "I thought you were way too smart to be Catholic." No, I am not making this up.

Some have even suggested to me that Catholicism is an "immigrant" religion, questioned our rituals like the incense and Latin hymns and prayers, as if we are practicing some sort of archaic Medieval seance. Ouch!!!

Growing up, I was taken to church, baptized, confirmed. I received First Holy Communion at age 13. Shortly after, we inexplicably stopped attending church. When I asked to go, I was told, "We already did that", as if Confirmation was equivalent to graduating from high school.  So, why would you go back?

If I wanted to say grace at meals, or if I praised God for a sunny day, I got eye-rolls and grimaces. I took to tucking my gold cross under my shirt and taking my faith underground. In later years, when my mother was elderly and frail, I would hide my Bible upstairs in my house when she could no longer climb stairs. Upstairs was my Safe Zone, where I could be a Christian.
So I struggle mightily with this notion of being a Visible Catholic. Sometimes we refuse to display the visible signs of our faith out in public.

And if we are fearful Catholics, do we choose to anglicize our name, or refuse to give our children saints' names, fearing that our children will be marked as Catholic all their lives? Do we hide our gold crucifix inside our shirts when we leave the house, or tell people on Sunday mornings that we "have plans", rather than admitting that we go to Mass?

Do we apologize for being Catholic, by saying, "I happen to be Catholic", as if it were more an accident of birth, rather than an act of faith? And then, how do we regard the listener's backward apology to us, if he says, "Not that there is anything wrong with that"?

Lent is traditionally about retreating into solitude, into meditation, into prayer.

But it is not about hiding as Catholics.

God, may I make my faith truly Visible this Lent, as I openly and courageously re-dedicate myself to You and to Your Son!

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Like A Rock

"A man built his house upon the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." [Matthew 7: 21-28].

This was one of the Scriptures that I chose for the readings at my wedding. After an uncertain childhood, I surely wanted my marriage to be built upon a rock.

I did not want my marriage to be like the other, foolish man in this Scripture, who built his house on sand.   "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house and it fell with a great crash."

The house, to me, was my marriage. I knew that storms would come, the rain would come down, the winds would blow against us and beat against "our house". But I wanted our house, our marriage, to withstand whatever came.

Bad things did happen to us. Job loss, recessions, worries over money, misunderstandings with siblings, the losses of beloved pets, difficulties becoming parents, terminal illnesses of our parents and their subsequent deaths, the loss of my best friend at much too young an age.

But our "house" still stands. It is not that we never argue, or grieve, or sulk, or sink into a funk, or doubt, or stalk away refusing to talk.

Yet, no matter what misfortune hits us, the love and respect that we have for each other comes first. That "thing" called marriage is what we honor and keep returning to.

I believe it is like that with God. And with His Son, Jesus.

No matter what misfortune comes into my life, no matter how angry I may get with God, no matter how much I despair of ever being anywhere nearly like Jesus, no matter how many times I try and try to love and forgive, and fall down and have to try again, I cling to God and His teachings.

As my marriage is my shelter against the storm, a place of deep love and commitment; so is my relationship with God.

God, be my rock, be my shelter against the storm, as I love You and try to follow your ways.

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Forget Not

"Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.'
Can a mother forget a baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget you, I will not forget you." [Isaiah 49:14-15].

Have you ever felt the presence of God? I have felt God's presence in a gorgeous sunset. Or in a butterfly flitting by, just when I was feeling a whim of sadness. I have smiled with joy at the sight of a teeny ladybug climbing up a flower stalk. St. Ignatius Loyola wept at the sight of the midnight sky,with its broad sweep of billions of stars. He knew that God was with him at that moment.

God is our Creator, a Being of infinite peace and strength, who can come to us in the form of a cloud, in the form of  the vastness of the oceans, or in the human form of Jesus.

Of course, God is male, right? He is our Father, our Provider. In times when we seek wisdom, we pray, "Father, teach  me your ways.

If God can take all these forms, why can't He be a woman? This Scripture from Isaiah says that He CAN be our Mother as well.

Somehow, I always saw God as both my Father and my Mother. In a childhood where I felt timid and sometimes full of doubt, God was able to both teach me and comfort me!

Even if one's mother is physically absent, weighed down with illness, emotionally distant or neglectful, even if she prefers to forget all about us, even if we have no one else in the world to care for us, God is capable of holding us in Her warm embrace as a loving Mother would.

I have lived by those words, "I will never forget you!"

I have also repeated to myself the Scripture where Jesus says, " I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you." [John 14:18].

God, in those moments when I feel so alone and helpless, I pray that You take me in your arms, and hold me tight in your loving embrace!

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