When I was on one of my first retreats related to the spirituality of Communion of Life with Christ through Mary, I arrived with my firstborn son, barely one year old. I recall meeting a gentleman, and while I was speaking to him, I became aware of my son’s need for a diaper change. I excused myself, and as I was leaving, this gentleman pointed out how quickly I noticed my son’s need to be cleaned up and took care of his mess. He gently explained that our Blessed Mother does the same for each one of us, even more so, with great love and attention to detail.
So thank you, God, for allowing me to see the truth about my weaknesses, and how that calls upon the abyss of Your merciful Love!
For some reason I am recalling that conversation today, and perhaps it brings me comfort as I reflect on a recent visit by some family members. I was excited to welcome my sister and her five children for a week, but as the days passed, I grew in my fatigue and my need for some good old introverted down time. Having 10 kids in the house (ages 11 years old down to 1 1/2) was overwhelming for this Control Freak. I noticed my impatience (directed toward my own children) as I anticipated more meal preparation and cleanup. I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the chores I was neglecting during the visit, rather than surrendering to the grace of the moment and God’s loving presence stamped on each interaction with my loved ones. God allowed me a small humiliation to remind me to stop relying on my self, on my own strength and patience (which was obviously lacking!): I barked at my daughter about the messy spaghetti napkins she was dropping all over the floor, but as she turned around to face me, I discovered my “daughter” was actually my niece, with the same cute ponytail in the back! Up to that point, I had been trying to be kind to my guests, but as I saw my niece’s surprised and slightly scared face staring back at me, I recognized how very ugly my tone had been directed toward my own children all along. I apologized to my niece, who seemed forgiving, but I am ashamed of my selective “charity”. At the same time, in Blessed Mother’s arms, I am grateful for God’s mercy in exposing my great need for Him. I see how very much I need His grace to be kind and gentle and present to my children.
This small humiliation shows me how very gentle God is. Many times He allows me to see the truth about myself without showing that truth to others. In this case, I suppose I needed to hear this truth loud and clear. My embarrassment about my tone with my niece is a gentle way for God to speak to me. And as I recall the conversation with the gentleman on the retreat so many years ago, I am comforted by the fact that my Blessed Mama is near me, and I am so very grateful to her for cleaning up my messes with great love and repair.
The best news is this:
Your astonishment will be wonderful when you see that He is not disgusted by your uncleanliness. You are the one who is so ashamed of your dirt, and you are the one whom He embraces with His love saying, “Do not worry, I love you just as you are and I will purify you with great tenderness. (S. C. Biela, Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock, (Ft. Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 16)