Pietà

During my time as a hospital chaplain I’ve had the privilege of interacting with a variety of foster parents. Many feel called to the compassionate task of caring for children with chronic illness and differing abilities. They spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices, appointments, and children’s hospitals. Sometimes the biological parents are involved. Sometimes not.

The other day I was called to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) by a patient’s nurse. She informed me that the biological mom was tearful while the foster mom was holding steady. Both were bedside. The little boy in the hospital bed was very sick, and the family (biological and foster) made the impossible decision to withdraw care in order to take away the suffering that this small patient had endured for far too long.

When I entered the room the biological mom was having a hard time, and after introductions she said she needed to step out of the room. I escorted her to the lobby and showed her where she could find the garden. She excused herself full of anticipatory grief. I went back upstairs into the patient’s room again to discover the patient out of bed with the foster mom cradling and rocking him in her arms. With tears now in her own eyes, she hugged him close and comforted him with her soft, soothing voice. For me, the scene was so intimate, I like the biological mother, had to excuse myself. I left them to be family one with another.

Pietà by Michelangelo

Mary, we might say, is both Jesus’ biological and foster mom. Biological because she gave birth to him. Foster because she knew that ultimately he came from someone else and belonged to everyone through love. Mary is also remembered as birthing the Church, and through holy baptism we become adopted children of God.

“God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will…”

~Ephesians 1:5

As we make our way through these last fews days of Advent, meditate on the love your Heavenly Father has for you. Ponder, also, the great mystery of the Church, and how through it we meet Jesus who loves us like a Mother.

The Sound of Silence

~Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.~1Kings 19:11-13

A Responsorial Psalm 

The wind is my breath, says the LORD.
It is partially me, but not all of me.
The earth quakes at my presence
Because I AM its Creat-or.
The earth is my crea-tion.

Fire is a technology of creation,
And like the earth and wind it is not me.
It is my crea-tion.

Earth, wind, and fire.
Even though all three are my creations;
And they are good, I AM ultimate Good.
All will pass away, but I WILL remain
Like the sheer silence that is there,
But isn’t there, so I AM.

Man is tempted by creation
And the technologies grounded in creation.
The temptation is to worship them like Baal
And to try and possess them as if they are man’s.
Creation cannot be possessed; it is gift.

Can you capture the wind?
Can your feet remain steady while the earth quakes?
Are you not burned by fire?

Man is also tempted by the gods
Even though the masks of old have
Long been removed.
Choose now whom you will serve.
Make steady your mind;
Shield your face, yet keep your eyes open.

Put good things (but not The Good)
Out of your mind. Exit your silos and
Leave your caves. You fall in love with
Your own voice that echoes off their walls.
Follow me to the edge and listen. Listen.

There is truth in the world. But I AM ultimate Truth.
You will find me when you find Love;
You will recognize me when you experience Beauty;
You will fall to your knees when you discover
The sheer sound of silence. I AM in it all; yet beyond it all.

There are no words;
There are no technologies;
There are no-things that can capture me.
Listen for me. Listen to me. Listen with me.

And when you listen know that I will not
Ask little from you, but much.
I desire your life not as a slave but as liberation.
My creatures and creation are partial.
I AM absolute. Do not divide me up but
Seek my unity found in my life-giving Love.

Do you not remember my Son, the Beloved, and
How he walked in Love? By his very gait he
Welcomed the earth as his own.
With his calm stride he brought ease to the tempest, and
In his touch brought fire to the dis-eased.
He did not worship earth,
Wind, and fire. He did not bow down
To hunger, eros, or power. He revealed
These aberrations as idols and
Illumined the heart readying it for repentance.

If you cannot remember my Son,
then at least my Spirit?
My Holy Spirit continues to move in His Bride
–The Church – and yet her Body has become divided.
She has left the opening of the cave
Where she once listened for my voice and has
Retreated back into its chamber.

Why do you withhold my Truth from the world?
Why do you admire the ringing of your own voices?
Have you forgotten sheer silence?

I have not forgotten you. I AM with you.
I AM waiting for you. Come back out and
Into the open. I will no longer distract you
With earth, wind, and fire – I never have.
These were gifts as you are gifts to me.
Come back out to me and quiet rest I WILL give.