It is a sad consequence of the Fall that even when we are praying, we do not envision God sitting with us. Rather, without truly realizing it, we wonder and worry about how we are ever going to get His attention? How are we going to make Him care for our concerns so that we can move Him to act? Perhaps we are not using the right approach, or are not praying the correct prayer. If only we were saints, we tell ourselves, then we could hope to obtain answers to our prayers.
Recently, I was startled, consoled to discover God at my elbow, so to speak. I could imagine Him looking at me with intense love. It was a Thursday and I had just managed to get to Mass on time. The minute I knelt in my pew, I realized how utterly burdened with sorrow I was. The busyness of life had somehow kept my emotions at bay until that very instant; but, it must have been the comfort of being so near to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that suddenly swept all the distractions away.
I felt loss, a profound piercing pain. My mother was far away in California and I knew that late the previous night, she had been crying out in fear and confusion. An ambulance had been called and I was disconsolate because once again, I could not be there to comfort her. That morning in my pew, I was thinking about how the limitations of time and space were such a terrible cross to bear. We love and we desire to be present with those close to us who are suffering, and yet so often we cannot.
I was helpless and I felt it acutely. But then, all of a sudden, I realized God was speaking to me. He was next to me and it took me completely by surprise, jolting me from my thoughts. I hadn’t even been talking to Him, really; I was just lost in my own sorrow. But I heard Him speak all the same. He said: “Marie, your concerns are my concerns. You can’t be there, but I can.”
My spirit leaned into His being and like John, I felt Him cradle me. It wasn’t a vision, I hadn’t lost my senses, it was just an understanding more real than the physical happenings around me. I knew then that my sorrow and my pain were His sorrow and His pain and that like me, Jesus also longed to comfort my mother. All I had to do was ask. Somehow across the reaches of time and space, the Lord was being sent to Mom’s bedside. I trusted completely that she would feel a powerful infilling of comfort and strength that would bless her. It was an intimate moment with God and it did a lot to deepen my understanding of prayer.
Later I read a meditation that expressed what had happened better than I ever could:
“…prayer is no longer a teaching of God that is external to us. In making us aware, little by little, of our real poverty, God gradually brings us to placing ourselves before him with trust, as beings who know they cannot do without Him.” Fr. Bro
This meditation was originally written May 22, 2011.