A few weeks ago when Deacon John gave a homily at Mass he shared an image of a parent and child that, for him, represented the child-like relationship that God wants us to have with him. Deacon John then encouraged us to come up with our own image.
I have a 20-month-old toddler, so I have no shortage of images of child-parent relationships, but there is one from a year ago that has always clung to me.
About a year ago, every time I put my baby to bed, I would hug him and cry because I was convinced I was going to die soon. I was scheduled for an incisional hernia repair surgery, the third surgery I would have to correct complications from an emergency c-section that nearly took my life. While the hernia repair surgery was major abdominal surgery, it was in no way considered life-threatening, in fact, it was a very common surgery. None of that information mattered though, because I was suffering from PTSD from the birth of my son. The PTSD brought me back to the life-threatening, incredibly painful moments during his birth and in the month that followed.
At this point you may be wondering, what this has to do with a parent-child relationship that reflects the human-creator relationship.
Eventually, one night, I asked myself, why does the thought of dying make me so sad when I am saying goodnight to my child? Is it the thought of never seeing him again? While the idea of being separated from him was incredibly painful, probing these feelings revealed to me that it wasn’t a concern for my own sadness at separation that was bothering me. Instead, it was the thought of him not having me. I had a deep desire for Benedict to know me, and for us to grow in relationship together.
I probed this further. Was this egotism? Was it unholy to be thinking this way? No, the Holy Spirit, reassured me, this is precisely what God wants with each of us. God wants us to know him. Of course, there are parts of God we cannot know or understand; in the same way that there are parts of our parents lives that we will never know or understand, but, at least in healthy situations, the loving relationship we have with our parents is sustaining for us, it is essential to our development as human beings.
In the same way that I deeply desired for my baby to know me and grow up knowing how much I love him, God desires this for us. Not because it benefits him (although if being a parent is any indication of how God feels, then having a relationship with us brings him immense joy too), but because it sustains us, it is paramount in our development so that we can live the life we were created for.
Of course, there is wisdom in the exercise that Deacon John gave us; we each have a unique understanding of what it means to be a parent and what it means to be a child, and I too encourage you to reflect on what image is meaningful to you.
At the same time, I invite you to enter into that relationship with God as a child just as Jesus invites us to. To allow God to be known to you, to seek God’s presence in your everyday life.
Director of Music & Liturgy