“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7)
Silent prayer, being personally present with God, is bread in the wilderness of forgetfulness; it is the constant among the changes; it is the personal encounter and communion that transforms me into my true self. The entire “goal” of silent prayer is to remain present and real. My responsibility is to keep and honor this relationship and to share it with my family. Everything else I do in the world is ultimately done for the purpose of promoting the central reality of prayer and love.
“But when you pray, go into your inner room…” (Matthew 6:6)
If my prayer becomes only external, so too will become my life.
I have loved our son from the beginning and from before the beginning. The first time I placed the ultrasound probe on his mother’s abdomen and heard his rapidly beating heart, I sensed his personal presence and I loved him. The miracle of new life! The first night he spent on earth out of the womb, I cradled him in my arms all night. Thus began our bond and our permanent share in the sacred mystery of God’s love for us all. This is what Father’s Day evokes for me. I remember my own father and his journey of life with me, and I understand so much more now. It is a sacred calling and an abundant blessing to be a father. I pray for God’s grace always to guide me.
One day, I am looking at my son and he is a tiny infant cradled in my arms, wondering who I am. The next day, I am looking at my son and he is a grown man cradling me in his arms, loving who I am. In-between our days and beyond them is a love that cannot die. Time changes most things, but not this. In the end, it is enough.
It is the Sabbath. Evening has come to this hot and blustery Summer day. I am aware of the sacred presence of love surrounding us today. Our shared love is beautiful. Just like the day that fades, I realize all things pass. These times together will pass. Our lives will end. I have trouble truly comprehending this, but I do comprehend the love we know here and now.
Family life is sacred. The eternal is in it. To rest in this is enough for me. In fact, it is everything.
During the difficult times when we are “put to the test”, God is there with us, although it often doesn’t feel that way. God does not necessarily cause our trials and tribulations but can use them to clarify our intentions, for our own sake. Tribulation can clarify your values and reveal your character, and strengthen it. Suffering is not good in itself, but some of the worst times in life can become a purification process. They can crush you for a time, and also awaken compassion. Hard times can be, among other things, an opportunity to focus on the truth and nothing else, but the decision is always ours.
Like anyone, I struggle with anger and loss of faith when tragedy comes, but I also know through experience that God can bring into existence what was not, and give life to what was dead. Life has taught me that even the worst of times can bring about good things that may not have been possible otherwise. Suffering is not good, but we are never without hope. God never abandons us in our suffering.