Some time ago, I prepared a talk on Godde’s call in my life. As an entry point, I chose a passage from Matthew’s Gospel:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that she has and buys that field.” (13:44)
In the silence of my room, I read the passage several times. I look prayerfully at my life… What is the treasure buried in the field? Where is it?
I remember growing up in a dysfunctional family, where there was love coming at us in a variety of toxic ways — I grew up feeling like an ugly duckling, with a great fear of being abandoned (our mother left all of us for several months when I was 9). I didn’t know then those lines in Isaiah:
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. (Is 49:14-15)
I spent my first forty-plus years unaware of Godde’s love for me. I lived my will, giving little thought to His. I tried to manage my need for security, love, and control… Which is exhausting really. Trying to control everything around me, to protect myself from being hurt… I developed egotistical ways — a need to bring back everything to myself — all those bits of unfreedom which I am still fighting to this day.
Unbeknownst to me, Godde has been walking with me all along, through my bright and dark times, when my mother left us and came back, when I met the man who was to become my husband. I only understood this years later, when I started connecting the dots. Still, as if undeserved gifts, I experienced moments of divine tenderness, like right after I learned that I had had a miscarriage….
Yes, Godde loves me, each one of us, unconditionally, totally, as I am, where I am… It has taken me a long time to believe that Godde finds me lovable. Every so often I need to remind myself that my name is written on the palm of Her hand (Is 49:16). Or that, when the psalmist sings, I am wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), it applies to me too.
… But Godde found me — more than I found her. A walk in a Madras slum, a ride with a young Brahmin woman in a Jeep who had my heart burning as she talked of Jesus, a Cursillo, some Ignatian retreats, walking to Santiago, and I experienced Godde’s love, — a miracle really, since I find it so difficult to love myself.
The awesomeness of Godde’s love has brought me to a place where I want to love and serve God. I want to spend more time with Her, to follow Her ways.
How can I love Godde then?
First, by loving those whom Godde has placed around me, my family and friends, and learning to love those whom I find difficult to love…
By enjoying Her creation — taking a walk on the beach or in the woods…
By clearing my heart and my life, as much as possible, of all that the world tells me I need to be happy. Yes, a new purse may bring me some pleasure after I have first bought it, but it does not last.
I show Godde my love by having ‘dates’ with Her, in prayer at my computer, or staying with Her in silence, waiting for Her to unfold in me, to affect me, to touch me, to melt me…
Not long ago, Pope Francis said , “The world tells us to seek success, power and money. God tells us to seek humility, service, and love”.
Oh, what a challenge it is to be in the world, but not of the world. Again and again, Jesus invites me, Come and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28), or again, Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself (Mt 6:34). But the world has a grip on me which does not quite let me go.
Tiny bit by tiny bit, I learn to empty myself of much that I have accumulated over the years, material belongings of course, but also remorse, scruples, false beliefs (no, I cannot please everyone all the time) and grudges.
Grudges… Breast cancer, an important time in my life, has shown me the need for forgiveness and gratefulness. Still today the former does not come easily to me.
Godde’s love helps me look at my life and shows me all the reasons I have to be grateful. So many really. My greatest reason, though, is Godde’s love for me: THIS is the treasure in the field. Her love comes first, and everything else flows from it. I could be the richest person in the world, without Godde’s love, I would feel very poor indeed.
My prayer time comes to an end. I give Godde a couple more minutes before I close. Suddenly, I get the feeling that all Godde truly wants Is that I let Her happen to me, let Godde be done unto me. I savor the closeness of the encounter …
Just give me your love and your grace, Lord, this is enough for me.
I close with
— a prayer to Virgin Mary, asking her that I may love her Son as He deserves to be loved.
— a prayer to Jesus, that he drop some crumbs of His love for the world at my table so that I may love the world as He does.
— and I beg Godde to help me love Her as She would like to be loved.
Finally, before going for a walk in the garden, I jot down a few words in my journal summing up my prayer time.
Art: Daniel Bonnell, Pearl of Great Price, Images on Christ Project, Private Collection