Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"Yahweh Saves"

This morning, as I was reading in "Radical Grace: Daily Meditations by Richard Rohr," this is what I saw:

"The greatest act of faith is to believe God loves you, even in your nakedness, poverty and sinfulness. But human beings always think we have to earn God's love. We work for it and, by doing good things for God, think we are going to get God's blessing and love in return...It ends up being a self-centered morality of self-perfection and discipline.

Christians have so commonly used the phrase, "I must save my soul," or "Priests are here to save souls." That is not New Testament. It is pure heresy to think you can save your soul. Jesus means "Yahweh saves." As long as you're busy saving your soul, you're preventing God from saving your soul." (p. 135-6)

Then I looked at my little crucifix, which has a tiny picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, above his figure, praying over him. Surrendered, she had no choice but to accept the events as they unfolded. She also chose to pray at the foot of his cross. "Yahweh saves." What can this mean, in light of such cruel things being allowed to happen? "Saving" must mean something other than rescuing me, preventing evil from entering my life, helping me to get what I want, what I believe is good, loving, fair and just.

I kept reflecting on Rohr's words, and how it describes what I have believed, and how I lived, for years. I have worked so hard, believing that I was not good enough. Katie's illness, treatment, and death have showed me that I am good enough, because I am who God made me, and that's all that I have! When crisis strikes, you are who you are at that moment, and that's all you get to take with you into the void --that, and the presence of God. Not that I won't humbly pray for help and guidance, for love to flow through me, but so much is out of my hands, and my work is more along the lines of opening to God. Then, as I prayed the prayer that is posted on the right side of the page here (we adapted it from Joyce Rupp for Katie's memorial card), I had a little "light bulb" moment. I saw that Katie really WAS a gift, not in the sense of gratitude, as I usually interpret this --but in the sense of her presence in our lives being given --not a right, but a gift.

As a wife and mother, my family is part of my life; I love them irretrievably, and it is my job to care for them. In other words, they belong to me, not as possessions, but as part of me, part of my being; perhaps you could visualize a vine with branches, interconnected. When one of the branches is cut off, the entire vine is changed.

So, perhaps today, I can see that Katie wasn't just my daughter to love, care for and help, but that she was a gift that I received in my life. I got to have her delightful physical presence for 12 years and five months (plus 9 months of pregnancy). I get to have her memory for the rest of my life. It's not enough, and it will have to be. Both are true. I can work at being thankful for what I have, or I can fight the facts; at certain times, I can do both. It is a paradox, a mystery.

"Yahweh saves." I believe that God is Love, and He/She is helping me live with all of this, since I am alive. "Bless the hurt in our hearts as we trudge through each day. Grace us with Your loving presence each moment of our lives." May this be so for all of His creation, all of His children, everywhere, especially the suffering ones.

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