“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Isaiah 49
As I pray on these words of Scripture, memories flood my mind with moments of closeness with my family. I recall instants in my life where the Father has felt so close to me through the love of others. Such thoughts that come to mind are those times I felt safe, seen, known, and loved by my mother, father, siblings, and dear friends. In such moments I felt at home, even in some of the most challenging times.
For the past few months, I have been praying with and pondering the icon of Our Lady of Tenderness. This image has been coming in and out of my life for years now, but only recently has the Lord seemingly been entrusting it to me. As I sit with this icon, these words from the book of Isaiah rest on my heart.
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to Thy will.” - Luke 1:38
As I look at this image, those beautiful words spoken by our lady during one of the most pivotal moments in history, come to mind. I am struck by the softness of the expression of Our Lady and her demeanor. She has such reverence for the “fiat” she just proclaimed. Her head bowed before the Lord of the universe who made Himself present in her womb. As one of my favorite images, I am not only struck by the softness of the brushstrokes, but the image itself. Our Lady's expression is one of humble joy. She is humbled by the presence of the Lord within her and that is expressed through her posture. The artist captured her femininity beautifully.
Christ is risen.
On Easter Sunday, we celebrated Christ’s resurrection. We sang, “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!”
“Today.” How can we stay mindful of Christ’s resurrection today and everyday, especially during this pandemic? To be honest, I thought it would be easier. I thought I would have more time to pray. I thought there would be less distractions… but I have found myself more distracted than ever as the days of quarantine start to fly by.
"Save us, Lord! We are perishing!" (Matthew 8:25)
Crashing of waves, rolling of thunder, whistling of winds...These are things that I feel and hear as I pray with this image of the storm surrounding the disciples. In this painting, the artist conveys anxiety, fear, frustration, and helplessness through his many brushstrokes.
I was drawn to take this image to prayer as Jesus seems asleep in my little boat in life. Don't we all feel this way?
Coronavirus has been a storm for all of us. Each of us has had lives changed by it. You might be experiencing loss in your spiritual life without the availability of the sacraments. Maybe you have lost your job, and, for the first time are experiencing the uncertainty of unemployment. Or maybe you have a family member who has passed or is severely ill in this time.
Whatever your circumstances, whatever your cross- you are in a boat with the Lord. While he is here, he seems to be sleeping, and often what is felt are the tossing of the waves and the turbulence of wind blowing back and forth.
Looking at this image, I can easily place myself in the position of the man steering, whose oar has been taken from him. In these recent times, life in many aspects has been uncertain, and any sense of security seems to be taken from me. What are often groundings to feel safe - job, home, friends - all of these seem to be in flux. Like this disciple without his ability to control or steer the boat, I have come to realize that they are all comforts. While such things make us feel in control, the reality is, we are not in control. Jesus is in control. All is gift.
Like the disciples, who wake Jesus up in such times of helplessness, we need to cling to Him in such uncertainty. He is with us. Like he said to his dearest friends, he says to us, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)
Sister, you are not alone in this time. The Lord is with you, calling you to Himself in this time of vulnerability. When securities seem to come out from under us, we are faced with opportunities for faith. In such moments, let us call to the Lord in our need and place our trust in Him.
Citation for image: Delacrouix, Eugenet. Christ Asleep during the Tempest. 1853, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436176,public domain.
“Your Father knows what you need even before you ask him” - Matthew 6:8
“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” - Matthew 6:31-3
Struggle. Doubt. Anxiety. Fear.
As I head into my second week of Lent, these are some of the many emotions and experiences that I find my heart confronted with. Eight months into moving into the DC area, I have found that changes have pulled the rug of comfort from underneath me. I am the worst with changes, and within one year, God has had me move between two very different cities, and it has brought its fair share wrestling with the Lord interiorly.
“This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” -John 11:4
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted” – Matthew 5:4
The Gospel is full of paradoxes. “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) and "unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3) are to name a few. Like many other areas in the Bible, mourning is something that follows such a pattern.
"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” - Matthew 18:3
Ever since my sisters and I were young children, our mom would encourage us to “live beautifully.”
As a child, it was easy to do so. I found everything so beautiful: So many of the people, places, and things that I encountered all around me were filled with beauty. My warm grandmother, my dusty neighborhood park, and my random collections of stickers, books, and dried leaves (pressed between the pages of these books) were all so, so beautiful.