If there is good in the grief I have for my parents it’s in all the memories I have that continue to visit me over the last almost two years. They rise in my mind when they choose and not on a fixed schedule. The memories are often sweet or bitter-sweet, missing them. Their presence waxes and wanes through times where they feel close to me now in the form as members of the communion of saints and other times in those memories.
One of the ironic things I’ve noticed that at times, and I know many of you with whom I converse tell me, that at this time we don’t quite feel “at home” during this era of the COVID. Since I am at home most of the time when I am not in the office, I find it ironic that I at times don’t feel “at home” at home. Months ago, I felt “at home” at home. But the invisible force of the COVID has restricted life around me so that it at times seeps into life at home.
I remember when I was around six. We had just visited my God parents/family friends on the opposite side of the city over Christmas. It was late, pitch dark, cold and snowing when we left, having snow and ice chunks on the road that I could hear crunching under the tires. I was very sleepy as my younger brother was already asleep next to me in the back seat. I watched my dad drive, focused on the road, thinking about how hard it must be to go through all of these challenges to get home. There was a great comfort in watching him navigate the weather and the roads until I had fallen asleep myself. The usual 25 minute trip probably took twice that long. But I didn’t know it because I didn’t realize we were home until I found myself being carried in my father’s arms into the house. We made it! We were HOME! I felt even more at home in the warm bed he laid me in.
My father imitated God that night. He brought me through the weather, darkness and cold to bring me home. God is like this. In fact it’s God that gave my father a spirit to do just this. To bring me home.
God brings us home also, even when we don’t feel “at home” in our homes because we’re not at home within ourselves due to all sorts of challenges that keep us off balance and disconnected from our heavenly Father. So when I don’t feel “at home” at home, then perhaps I need to sit in the seat again, close my eyes and allow the Presence of the One who waits within me, to awaken me to the fact that I’ve been asleep and that he’s had me in his arms all the time.
There was an abbot who once taught his monks to “sit in your cell (room), and your cell will teach you everything. ” There was another abbot who taught his monks, when asked the question of the origin of suffering: “All suffering comes from one’s inability to sit still and be alone.”
Being “alone” in God is not isolation. It is solitude. Solitude is the place where we encounter the Holy who enters us with his life. We can remain in solitude while being with others provided that we cultivate this solitude within in our quiet spaces with God.
God has provided us a seat on which to sit in order for us to address our restlessness and estrangement. If we sit with him, he will carry us home within himself.
I bet this will work for you too. Prayer is a very active process until we are released to rest in God, who is in the driver’s seat.
May you know what it means to be carried,