I remember that, when I was in high school, Saturday I would normally stop at the house of my sister who lived with her husband just a short way from my school; I knew that on Saturday she didn’t work and that there was always an extra plate of pasta for me. Her apartment, on the sixth floor of a huge building in one of Rome’s commercial zones, was small, noisy, and yet extremely welcoming…not in itself, but for the warmth that my sister and her husband knew how to radiate with their cordial simplicity.
One day on entering the kitchen, I noticed that there was a hand-written note on the calendar with an appointment; with wonder, I saw that it wasn’t the shopping list, but an affectionate message that my brother-in-law had left for my sister in anticipation of seeing her in the evening. Mary told me that they were accustomed to take turns (if it was needed!) writing each other notes for reminding themselves of their mutual affection especially when their work schedules did not permit them to spend time together. Now a few years later, it pleases me to remember this life lesson and above all it pleases me to apply it to the very gentleness of God’s love that comes to us everywhere and in an infinite variety of ways.
It is true that sometimes it is difficult to take in God’s presence in our life and that in relating to him we have to change our perspective and expectations a little, but God is too enamored with us to let us get discouraged by our nearsightedness and incapacity to see him present in our everyday reality. And, knowing that his “presence” is at times too “spiritual” for us, he doesn’t hesitate to proclaim it by “chance” messages of tenderness and affection.
I have always believed in the truth of these words, but there was a time in my life that has pleasantly confirmed the Lord’s attentive love for me.
I found myself in a little city in northern Italy for a parish mission and one morning having ended my trip through the high school classrooms where I had met many students, I stopped to pray in a church. The place was completely deserted and so I sat in one of the last pews seeking to concentrate a little and focus my attention on the Lord; in reality that day there was something in me that was not right; I was tired, worried, incredibly sad…I was staring at the tabernacle, almost waiting for a reply, but without forcing myself more than normal.
At a certain point, I heard a little squeaky voice coming from the back of the church; a child must have entered, probably accompanied by her parents. After a few seconds I found her at the end of my pew and instead of wandering freely in the deserted church, I saw her sit next to me and give me a smile. Alessandra, that was her name, said to me almost all in one breath and with visible emotion: “Do you know that I saw some baby geese?” Her exuberant joy for such an absolutely normal fact so touched me that amused I asked her: “Ah…and how many of these goslings were there? Many?” And still more emotional she stretched out her arms as far as possible and confirmed: “Yesss, many!! Like this!!!” At that point I saw her get up and go out the way she came, happy to have shared her exhilarating discovery of the day with someone.
I followed her with my gaze for some moments until she left with her parents that in the meanwhile had been amused at the scene from the back of the church and then I mechanically turned again towards the tabernacle. But when my gaze met that of the Lord, I perceived that this episode was a gift and a warning at the same time.
I felt rise up in me these words: “Michela, why are you sad? Did you notice how happy this girl was for having seen my goslings? Why don’t you welcome all the beautiful things that I put in your life with infinite love? What more can I offer you?” In that moment, I really took count of all the lost occasions, of how many goslings passed by in my life, of how much my distracted and “too-adult” gaze settled only on that which I held important; and I discovered that only the bright eyes of children know how to take in the marvels of God and know how to distinguish, in what we call mere “coincidences”, the super-gentle way that the Lord has of acting while remaining completely anonymous.
In that moment of rapidly reviewing my life, I found myself thanking the Lord for all the gifts that I unexpectedly saw pop out from the edges of my days, of those that I had considered so negative that they deserved to be erased. And I realized that life is like a magnificent flower-covered prairie that we sometimes travel through as distracted passers-by, taken by the anxiety to live the daily grind; it would be enough to stop ourselves a minute and incline ourselves a little and let ourselves be taken by the beauty of just one of these flowers to find ourselves again, almost by magic, discovering that next to that little flower there are infinitely more, different in shape and color, that exist solely for lighting up our gaze and rendering it able to taste The True Beauty. And every one of these flowers and of these goslings is a message of love that God has written on the calendar of your life to remind you, in anticipation of embracing him personally, that in his heart and in his mind there is a totally special place that has your name written on it.
This Month’s Meditation is Written By Sr. Michela