Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
My Dear Good People,
It was Halloween and I was seven. I had been waiting ‘all my life’ for the chance to wear the only store-bought costume my family ever owned–the leopard suit. It was a hand-me-down from someone, but to us it was a treasure. My oldest brother Pat had worn it a few times before my second brother Norb inherited it. Every Halloween I tried to stretch myself so I could wear it, but I had to wait my turn. At last, the wonderful night came for me! I put on the worn and shaggy suit with the long tail and the hood that had big cat ears. I didn’t wear the mask as I was afraid of masks, but my Dad drew feline whiskers on my face. As I stepped through our kitchen door onto the small stoop under the orange bulb, I felt like the Halloween Queen. My dad took my hand and I took a step into the darkening night, my two brothers following me. Suddenly, Pat accidentally stepped on my leopard tail, and since I kept walking, the entire back of the suit ripped jaggedly away, leaving me in tatters, figuratively and literally.
I remember as if it were today, sitting down on the stoop sobbing my heart out, with Pat (may his dear soul rest in peace) sitting with his arm around me, sobbing his own heart out in remorse. I didn’t blame him for what happened; I only blamed myself, for I suddenly felt very silly for wanting something so badly only to have it gone in an instant. Needless to say, none of us went out trick-or treating that night.
Today, as I hear Jesus (Mark 12:28-34) talking about the one thing that matters, loving God with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, I think again about that incident. Perhaps that terrible night was my first inkling that there was more to life than the desire to have some thing. As I grew up and older, God spoke to my heart without words, gently drawing me to the realization that He was sitting with my brother and with me on the cold cement, in the inky darkness, weeping with me over the loss of something I never really had in the first place. I would come to know that my brother’s love, my father’s care (I can still smell his coffee breath as he lifted up my face to draw the whiskers), the warmth of my family’s understanding were all a foretaste of the love of God that was meant to fill my heart. What I really wanted was some One.
Does that sound like just my imagination? Perhaps, but I think you might be able to resonate with this, too. God gives us so many nudges, often in the most mundane ways, to show us that there is more, that He has a plan for us, that He’s close to us. And to think that He commands us to love Him! That’s how badly He wants us to know that we can’t live without Him and expect to be filled with peace. Nothing will ever be enough. It’s not that He wants to have power over us or run our lives. He simply knows that we have been created to love Him and until we do, our hearts will be restless. God surely doesn’t want us to be restless.
Now, looking back through the cascading years to that night, I understand that there was nothing wrong with wanting to wear that silly leopard suit, any more than it would be wrong for you to want to have a newer car that runs, or a phone that doesn’t drop your calls, or a better job or no snowstorms this winter. What matters is that we keep things in perspective and put God first, knowing that, really, His love alone is the reason we were made. We both know that loving Him is, after all, our default setting.
Aren’t we blest!
Your Sisters of Charity