By Jill Mraz
My daughter came to me from the other side of the world when she was just 15 months old. Born in an industrial, noisy town in the middle of Siberia, Russia, her quiet entrance into my life was the beginning of recognized grace. A steady stream of blessings followed those tottering little steps through the door as together we started a new life. Everything changed. Having lived within walking distance of a 100+ year old Catholic church for over a decade, it wasn’t until I enrolled my daughter in the parish school that it ever occurred to me to walk across the street and look inside the mammoth church building that I had driven, biked and walked past hundreds of times. And then we did, one New Years Day. And, again, everything became new. I came back to the Catholic faith. Clearly, my return to the Church is a gift which transpired through the gift of my daughter. How many years of floundering had to be waded through before His plan came to fruition. A lesson in hope, to be sure. And yet, God’s timing is perfect. A lesson in Trust. His mercy, unending. A lesson in Love.
Years have gone by; my daughter is growing and changing and I try to keep up. Always at work, the Holy Trinity continues to spin and toil right alongside us whether I remember to give thanks or forget. I continue to be taken by surprise, by Love. At unexpected moments throughout the day, or at Mass, tears of deep gratitude fill my eyes, often after receiving the Eucharist. Swept up in the love flowing from Father to Son, into that exchange, so filled with the love pouring into me, I am made again; a vessel, my only task being to pour Love into my little girl now kneeling beside me. I hug her tightly, whispering Love into her ears, splashing Love onto her honey hair. To love a child, as a child through the Love of God, is another gift within the gift. Surely this is the full summation, the point, the completion of the circle. The tryptic in my heart is no longer folded neatly in upon itself, but opened with wild abandon. Love for Sale! For free! Or so I’ve thought.
One could argue that children are easy to love. They’re new. Pure. They can easily move into your heart and never leave. But to love the neighbor who smokes incessantly, wafting nicotine-laden plumes over the fence. To love the beggar, wholeheartedly, without judgment, at the freeway exit ramp. To love the family member who greets me, again, with silence. Here I am Lord. Open my heart to receive the gift you are offering right now. In these three persons, God, make me new, in Love.
About the author:
Jill Mraz is a Catholic mother to one wonderful daughter. Residing in Minnesota they enjoy summer road trips to either coast, marveling at the stunning beauty of God’s natural world. Jill writes poems and essays which reflect upon motherhood and her beloved Catholic faith. She is a contributor for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.