CHILDREN

Lent 34 ~ Miracle of Motherhood

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The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.   ~   Luke 1: 35 – 37

 

          From yesterday, my heart has been filled with babies. This past year, I’ve truly carried my children close to my heart. For all the times work has taken me away from them, the past 12 months have returned me to them.

          But yesterday, babies clung tighter to my heart a little more than usual.

          As always, the realization came belatedly.

Feast of the Annunciation

Feast of the Miracle of motherhood

          I have been blessed with this miracle seven times that I know of. Some of my children are here with me, my heart’s delight. Some are hidden from sight, my unseen helpers.

And one leads the way.

          For a time, I struggled to have children. I know too well that everything the world says is right can instead result in disappointment after disappointment. The sun will never rise unless God grants us His love. Many women have trouble with this comforting truth – that God determines each dawn of life, the journeys each of our children take to come to us.

          But it is true. A child comes to know our love only in God’s time.

          Today, on this day sacred to motherhood, my prayers are for a dear colleague aching to have a baby after the sorrow of miscarriage. If it be the will of my Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady, may my friend know the miracle of motherhood again. May she be one with the others I place in the Divine Hearts of Jesus and Mother Mary,

Those who sit by the window of life, waiting and waiting,

Those who returned God’s gifts because He asked.

Those who said, Not now, Lord,

Those who turned their hearts away, saying, Never.

Those who loved and who had no choice but to release their loves to others.

          Today, I consecrate each heart, of woman and baby, to the Mother Heart that knows the seasons of motherhood only too well.

          May today be the Day of Miracles.

We Leave Thee

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          There is a temptation to write off and stuff this old year into an invisible drawer never to be opened again. But I cannot yield to it, for despite the darkness and the stress endured, there has been much beauty in this mottled, troubled year.

          There is no way I can turn my heart away from His gifts to us because God gave us so much. So very much. He softened the difficulty of studying and working online from home through the consolation of good health and of our jobs being intact at a time when so many lost their livelihoods, when so many fell ill and too many did not return to life. Yes, like so many, we struggled to make adjustments to stay home orders and to unfair and poorly thought out government directives. But He buoyed us on with hope through happy news concerning our children. At the end of each day, we stumbled away from our laptops and phones, mentally drained from work, upset and frustrated with our employers, little wine left in our barrels.

          And God changed water into wine through the miraculous renewal of our family life. He taught us how to lock our gates against trespassers and instead, to turn the gaze of our hearts towards the gem of family, of time spent together.

God gifted us with laughter. Precious laughter.

This year, for every day of anger and hurt, there were ten times more of mirth and joy.

          Then, the sky of Advent dawned quietly in the frenzied churn of life. For years, the road to Christmas has been dark for me. Even when the sun began to slowly pierce the winter, the cold and dark hovered too close by. Even as I built fires for everyone else, my own hearth remained unlit.

The light would not come.

          Year after year, I would ache in hidden disappointment that God had passed me by yet again, my outstretched heart left empty, my seeking bereft.

          This year, not wanting to hope for a miracle (yet going ahead and hoping all the same), I took to heart the words of my friend, Linda Raha, – Make every day Christmas. I decided then and there that my Christmas would be that.

That the Light of Christmas in my hearth would be the Light of Christmas let in for others.

          That I would stand by the windows of other hearts and rejoice as the sacred Light of a newborn Babe warmed and healed those spaces. That even when I had to return to my own empty and wind-chilled heart, it would only be to resolutely light and stoke to life fires of thanksgiving and gratitude.

          And not forgetting – to gather up more wood to make more Christmas fires for others. Prayers for friends braving so many unsurmountables yet forging forwards in love. Love for those who hate the Jesus they do not know. For those who need Christmas in order to love. For poor muslim friends hiding their poverty behind brave smiles. For the old and the sick in our family, separated from loves by Covid.

That would be my Christmas and that would suffice, I schooled my heart firmly.

Heaven must have smothered a smile at my efforts, and angels surely clapped back their mirth. For they knew what I did not.

On Christmas Day, Heaven spilled Light into my heart.

          Not bright, joy-giddy Light, but a different Light. Many Lights. Gentle and playful Lights, little lamps loved and released yet cherished in secret. Lights wan yet so sweet, passed through hearts gone before us. Lights lit from love old and worn from waiting, yet firmly steadfast in the quiet of Hope Eternal.

          Today, as the winds blow their last notes among plump, white clouds and sun-drenched swaying boughs, my heart traces the whorls and lines of the old year once more.

          It is then that I see something. Strangely, today, none of the old anguish, those dark sentinels which have jealously guarded bitter memories, charge towards me. They are gone. Even as the memory of difficult days remain, the stain of pain is no more.

          Pondering this, I recall the words of my pastor in his Christmas Vigil sermon, his heartfelt exhortation to each one of us to pray for a miracle at the Crib of the Wee Child. Taking his words to heart, I had obeyed promptly that night. In spirit at the Crib’s edge, my plea had been direct,

Please Lord,

Miracle

Miracle,

Miracle.

And a miracle it was!

          Through the power of the Crib, the old shadows have gone, mysteriously brushed away from my spirit’s sight.

          The night grows old now, the last rains of the year fall in final benediction. Poised for flight into the new year, one last look at all that was,

Farewell!–we leave thee to Heaven’s peaceful care…

River

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          The past week, I had been trying to prepare myself for the feast of Pentecost. Yet, everything I tried didn’t quite click. Finally, I turned to God and asked Him to lay upon my heart that which I should focus on.

          I went on to spend a happy Pentecost Vigil day touching the soul of God through an assortment of household chores which kept me busy and happy, yet undistracted.

          Through them all, in my heart I prayed St. Augustine’s prayer,

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

          Later that day, still confident that God would speak, as I read on a multitude of topics, I continued to ask Him to lay His word on my heart.

          I felt a shifting in the air. Many things did pass before my eyes, but my spirit could hold on to nothing.

          As I waited for sleep to claim me on the Vigil night, I sang in my heart an old Holy Spirit hymn that an Irish nun had taught me as a child.

Come, Holy Spirit, we need you,

Come Sweet Spirit, we pray,

Come with Your strength and Your power,

Come in Your own gentle way.

          On the morning of Pentecost, an unexpected word was waiting for me.

River

And with it, an old post from Good Friday last year, They Have Returned.

          I slept well but was awakened close to six in the morning by a dream.

          I was outside a building. I had the feeling that there was water nearby, that it was a waterfront building. There were cars. I saw one, a humble, old car, a muslim father and kids inside. The kids were slightly impatient. I heard the father calmly tell the children to be patient a while longer. I sensed he and others were waiting for something or someone. I interiorly knew that the mother, a muslim too,  had gone inside that waterfront building

          Then, I too was inside that building. A priest was just ending the celebration of Mass. For some reason, I went up to the altar, to the right of it. Behind the altar,  the doors of the building opened out to a huge, huge, flowing river. A golden river. The waters seemed to be even higher than the building I was in. 

          Suddenly, the moment the Mass ended, a great mist rose from the golden river and began to swirl around. There was something so deeply beautiful in that mist that the congregation collectively gasped at its beauty.

          But I didn’t have time to immerse myself in its beauty – for I saw something the others had not seen yet.

That it was not mist.

It was children! Little children! Hundreds of them!

          These children were alighting from a sort of river bus. Each one had a photo. I knew immediately that the little ones had come from heaven. And that they were going to be ‘matched’ to the person in the photo that each clutched.

          In such a crowd of busy, silent children, it should have been impossible, but I immediately saw the one I sought. I rushed towards him and hugged him tightly as I sobbed and sobbed. All around me, the rest of the congregation at Mass, all of them parents too, surged forwards towards their children in tearful joy.

          In that piercing dream, I was shown the two children I had lost through miscarriage long years ago. I had always strongly suspected that I had miscarried our first baby but because it had happened so soon, before I even had time to test myself, I could never be sure.

          Yet, my heart mourned and I mourned for a boy, though I didn’t know why.

          Then, after our eldest was born, a year later, I had a miscarriage at 2 months, but came to know only at the fourth month mark. We grieved very deeply over that loss and somehow, I always sensed it had been a girl.

          That Good Friday dream of 2018, years and years after these wounds to our hearts, confirmed what I had sensed all these years.

          Now with the word river laid on my heart, I realized something about little children was being shown to me. It was like a hidden bell tinkling in the mist, signaling that something lies ahead.

          Something to do with children. A miracle.

          Something not just for Christians but for all.

          The following day, on the Feast day of Mary, Mother of the Church, God placed on my heart a sick baby and his brave mother. Too far away to offer any physical help, I decided to pray a special anointing prayer for them for the rest of June, using the St. Raphael’s healing oil I had. I asked for a miracle.

          As I traced the sign of the Cross on my forehead in proxy for the mother and wee son, I sensed my spirit quieten even more.

          Later, tuckered out from a busy day of home chores, I went to lie down for a short nap. I had been on a short break and it was my last day of respite from work. I would be returning to work the next day, returning to all the old and mottled lanes.

          But something had changed. I no longer resented the call of work. While I wasn’t looking forwards to it, I did not fear it as I had before. My impending return didn’t dry out my spirit or rent my heart. Instead, a strange ray of hope had begun to shine through.

          My heart plunged into thanksgiving for the beautiful break. Over and over and over, I gave God my grateful heart, humbled at how happy He had made me with little gifts tucked into each day. As each passing hour took me closer and closer to a world I still wished I was not a part of, suddenly nothing mattered now except my song of thanksgiving.

           A short while later, I awakened. Going to my window, I looked up at the sky.

          And I gasped.

          Before me was a massive, massive rainbow, stunning beyond words, its colours so vibrant and vivid. Only once before, broken and in near despair, had I seen a rainbow as beautiful as this. That day, God had strongly spoken His word of hope to me. Upon hearing it, my weakened spirit had immediately revived.

         Now, seeing this gorgeous gift from heaven, right outside my window, unbelievably huge, majestic in its presence, its colours pulsing with life, I rushed out of the house, into my garden to gaze at the bow in the sky, unhindered.

          Standing in stunned, joyful silence, I breathed in its luminous beauty.

          Golden river. Returning children. Feast of Mary the Mother of the Church.

          The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise   ~   Jeremiah 33: 14

 

 

 

 

ON CHILDREN

To The Unknown Land ~ Edmund Blair Leighton

To The Unknown Land ~ Edmund Blair Leighton

Some years ago, as I sat on an ash heap of defeat and loss, God put His hand out and touched my pain through a priest who gave me the words to a poem I had never before heard. My Master’s voice reached me through its gentle swell and ebb of words, teaching me the meaning of faith through the soul of a child.

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On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

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You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

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You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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