Where Is He?
“Come close to my side, you whose hearts are on the ground, you who are pushed down and worn out, and I will refresh you.”
One day our kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s School in Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, announced, “We’re going to visit Jesus.” I wasn’t sure who Jesus was, but I thought we would at least meet a person. As we knelt on the bare pews in the spare chapel, my eyes searched in every direction without finding him. The wooden crossbeams, icons on the walls, and golden locked box above the altar did not betray his presence.
25 years later I found him where I would least expect, not by going to a special place like a church full of a stained glass windows or participating in a religious ritual. He came to me within my own heart.
I was in deep sorrow. Months before I had lost my daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. My husband kept losing his job as his addiction to alcohol increased. I felt isolated and worried how to stabilize my preschool sons’ future. One afternoon while they took their naps, I sat on the floor in front of my bed. I read a few lines of scripture, slowly repeating them. After closing my eyes, I was suddenly dropped into a level of consciousness below ordinary awareness. A space of expansive love and limitless peace opened. I felt completely loved as myself. My worries melted. I knew a deep knowing that I would never be alone to face suffering, and that I was inextricably joined to our divine source of Love. I was not alone, but part of a unique purpose. I knew Jesus was mine and I was his. All my previous assumptions about life were turned on their head. Now I knew our relationship was all important. I didn’t have to go somewhere, do something, or earn his approval. Since then every day I make sure I have moments to sit in silence and open my heart to divine Presence within. Without any certainty, not understanding, I consent to our flowing source of Love. Contemplative prayer has been the way to strengthen our connection and show our way forward. We don’t need to run in all directions seeking treasure that is right here within us. We don’t need to earn Love that we already have.
“Come close to my side, you whose hearts are on the ground, you who are pushed down and worn out, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28, First Nations Version, An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2021)