I have been working on the concept of being one with God, feeling the freedom of the Holy Spirit so I can be more like Jesus while I let God the Father hold me and tell me, “You are my beloved son.” By feeling this love, I can then pass on this love to others.
Recently, in prayer group, we read Chapter 9 “We Are One Man” from Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. He stresses the importance of being there for each other and “empty himself and give himself to other people in the purity of a selfless love.”
A central theme in this chapter is being one with God and he concludes, “Our joy and our life are destined to be nothing but a participation in the Life that is Theirs. In Them (the Holy Trinity) we will one day live entirely in God and in one another as the Persons of God live in One another.”
As I meditated on this reading, I found myself thinking back to Chapter 17 in my book, Finding God Again and Again, and I thought I would share an excerpt of that chapter with you.
It was October 2012 and I had just discovered I had a monoclonal protein that was suggesting the possibility of multiple myeloma. As if having had a testicular cancer in the past was not enough, I found myself wondering about death and dying as I contemplated a new cancer diagnosis. My wife was attending an educational conference at a resort in upper Michigan, and I tagged along since I had some time off. This gave me an opportunity for much reading, meditation, and prayer.
“ … The next day after checking in and Anne went to her conference, I sat on the deck by the family room, overlooking the 18th hole and listening to Native American flute music from my iPhone. The gentle wind blew through the leaves and the breeze turned cool later in the afternoon. I soon had to wear my sweatshirt despite the clear, sunny skies. It was late August in upper Michigan, and it felt like the fall season was upon us. My gaze became fixed on the trees, and I appreciated the mixture of shaded and bright green leaves. The wind blew them in undulating waves as if they sang a song of comfort to my heart, and soon I found myself in deep communion with God.
I began to praise God for being such a good Father, for taking such good care of us. I felt our blessed mother and St. Joseph being there with me. I thanked them for being there with me. I prayed to St. Francis to help me be a good servant. All I wanted to do was to take good care of children, help them get better, be a good father and a good husband. I felt joy to be a servant for God, all for God’s glory. I prayed for my grandparents who had passed. I could feel Grandma Murphy being there with me. I also prayed for my father-in-law, for my uncles, aunts, and cousins, and for patients who had also passed away. I prayed for our friend Annette and her dad, I prayed for their peace and for their communion with God.
Very slowly, my mind began to shut down. I became engulfed in the rhythm of the leaves moving back and forth. I then became thoughtless. I was just being, just resting in God… and then this joy, peace and love overcame me. I felt like a poem wanted to burst out of me:
Your arms engulf me,
Your touch is delicate.
Not by the fire that purifies my soul,
But by your warmth, Father,
I realize you are here to console me.
My heart is at peace,
Weightless and without care,
For there are no regrets from yesterday,
Nor worries about tomorrow,
But simply joy in being here with you,
Joy to be here with my brothers and sisters.
As I rest in You
I feel complete.
I am in You,
And You are in me.
As I rested in God’s arms, I felt like Jesus was with me doing his high priestly prayer to God the Father (John 17: 1-26). In the middle of his prayer, I heard Jesus saying,
“… And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me …”
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of love all in one as we rested together.
I just rested in God’s arms for some time, feeling love and peace, and not aware of time passing by. But then my mind wanted to get busy:
“Why are you treating me this way? Why are you doing this to me?” I asked God. I felt overwhelmed by this feeling. I was engulfed in this love and wanted to wiggle out.
“I don’t deserve to be treated this way, Lord. I am a sinner with much fault, and You are loving me beyond my understanding.” I did not know how to act. I wanted to move, I wanted my mind to become active, but I felt God tell me to just rest. “Don’t let your mind get busy,” is how I felt. And so, I rested in God again. I let go of my impulse to move away and went back to letting God hold me.”
It is a challenge to give when we are busy with our lives. All the responsibilities from work, home and our children’s extracurricular activities can suck the energy out of us and it feels like we have nothing left. I have found that being mindful in the moment, seeing God in all things and in all people, has helped me take on these challenges and not feel so anxious and exasperated. The pace of life might seem fast, but inside in my heart, I feel peace as I try to see each person as God’s son or daughter just trying to do the best they can and seeing how I can fit in to make their lives easier. We are simply messengers of God, trying to help each other develop in God’s eyes.