Today I had an experience that left me feeling God wrapping me in His strong arms, pulling me close to Him, and whispering in my ear, "It's OK. I understand." Even if I write it out sloppily I wanted to try to capture it in words before I drop it, too.
This morning I had about 25 minutes to work on learning some music we will sing in choir for Christmas. It's in Latin and sort of polyphonic, which is not the sort of thing I can just belt out at first sight-reading. It requires work. My attempts to work on it thus far have not gone well at all. While it is true that my brain does not learn music well when the piece is in Latin, in the past I have been able to learn such things by putting in a lot of effort. It just wasn't working for me, now nor did it last year when we practiced it (but ended up setting it aside as it wasn't coming together). Today, attacking the work with great determination, I realized the hurdle I wasn't clearing was precisely the memory of last year's effort. Though I tried then, I was simply too depressed last year to do this type of work because I was overwhelmed by the first anniversary of a baby we lost, two years ago tomorrow. And until I faced that haunting memory I emotionally associated with this piece, my attempts to work at learning it were futile. But face it I did, and I was finally able to make great strides in learning it today.
Right after this realization, I gathered my children and we were off to Mass. When we go to Franciscan University I always drop them off near the door of the chapel so that they don't have to walk with me up the big hill where I park. While I walked I thought of how I had struggled so hard against singing my alto part for this song. The tenor part sunk into my mind, but I just couldn't focus on my part. I thought to myself, part of my grief of losing this baby is this experience of my part as a woman, of my body becoming a graveyard. It felt even a bit too melodramatic as I thought it, but thought it I did, and I shed a few tears in the quick moment up the hill. I realize that sometimes when life hurts, I really don't want to be a woman!
I was seated as Mass, and heard the reading from Isaiah:
The priest in his homily talked about how the kingdom of God belongs to the small, to the forgotten ones, and does not come in glitz and glamor. The all powerful one comes, how? As a baby. What could be more vulnerable, he asked, than a newborn baby. (I can tell you, I thought. A newly conceived baby.)
- Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the LORD. Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes. For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left; Your descendants shall dispossess the nations and shall people the desolate cities. Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced. The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember. For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the LORD of hosts; Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth. The LORD calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, A wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer. This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
As I continued to pray in that Mass, I sensed small ways the Lord has been nudging at my heart, and just as had happened with the first baby I miscarried, I had a sudden insight into the significance of the name we had chosen for this baby. (It was really my children who chose the name; I could not bring myself to be involved.)
All of these things floating through the hour and a half I've talked about here were like one flowing conversation with the Lord. I was washed over again by the mystery of His presence with me, the tenderness of His love toward me, and His persistent yet mysterious leading.