Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ultrasounds and God

A few months ago, I started a list in my journal, a place where I recorded "mystical moments." I wanted a record of those glimpses I've had of God in my life: answered prayers, physical connections, intense experiences surrounding the Sacraments. I needed something concrete I could turn to when I wasn't feeling His Presence, when it seemed my prayers were going unanswered, when I felt alone.

Once I got started, the list filled quickly. Lately, I've been noticing that God uses so many different ways to reach out to me. Often, I will hear an answer to a prayer in in a song lyric, a scripture passage, a word from a friend, or even a blog post.

I need my list because I am weak. Too often, I give in to the temptation to doubt that God really does care for me and my needs. Too often, I fail to give over my anxieties to him. I forget that I need to "let go and let God" and instead insist on clinging to the false hope that I am in control.

Sometimes, my worldly intellect will tell me it is foolish to believe in this "God" I cannot see, cannot hear, and can only occasionally glimpse. My heart always counters with, "but God exists... I know it even if I can't see Him or hear Him. I know."

Yesterday, I came across the most beautiful explanation of the knowing I have in my heart. I had never considered God in this way, and now I can't think of any better explanation. Jeff, at Journey in Faith, is awaiting the birth of his third child next summer. He and his wife cannot see this child growing within her. They cannot hear his voice. They can only feel his movements occasionally. But, they know that he is in there.

Recently, they got to see some glimpses of their son through an ultrasound. Jeff writes: "I saw a foot. I saw a hand. A couple times, briefly, I saw his face. The face! It was like he was looking right at us. It felt that way. Even though he cannot see us at all. For a moment, gazing at the screen, if felt like we were looking right at each other."

Then he makes the connection I needed to read:

"I trust there is a God who is here with us. Like this baby, right now I cannot see God. I cannot hear God. I catch glimpses of God. Glimpses which are distorted and incomplete. My own imagination supplies details which are inaccurate. Like this baby, some day I will see Him face to face. Like this baby, the actual encounter will be far superior to the blurry photo on an ultrasound screen. Until that face to face moment, I wait. I prepare. I do the things necessary to get ready for the day. I long to see the baby. I long to see God. The hunger is love. Love is the goal and final destination. I hope. I pray. I wait, anxiously."

I, too, have looked at ultrasound images of three different children. I have hung those blurry pictures on my computer monitor and the refrigerator. I've gazed for hours at the grainy reminders of the life growing within me. I've wondered what fingers and toes will look like, whose nose will appear, what color eyes will be. And, all three times, the experience of holding my child, of caressing tiny fingernails, of kissing closed eyes and touching downy hair was so much more than I had imagined it would be during those long months of belly-rubbing and dreaming.

And so, with God. I cling to my list, my "ultrasound photos," if you will. It gives me a blurred image of a Creator so loving and compassionate as to enter into our existence, to become one with us. I read scripture. I pray. I do what I can to remain open and trusting, welcoming Him into my little life.

Until that day when I am birthed into His loving arms.

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