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Then the glory of God shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together.
Isaiah 40:5 (NRSV)
Mary and Tom met and fell in love during their last year of college. Swept up by romance, they spent as much time as they could in each other's presence, dreaming of a bright future. Theirs would be the "ideal relationship"-open, honest, intimate, lasting. They wanted children, a comfortable home, successful careers, lots of money, and good health to enjoy it all.
They married three months after graduating from college,
and everything went according to their plans. Tom obtained a good position in a law firm, and Mary developed her skills as a budding artist. When their first child, Susan, was born a year after their marriage, they bought a lovely home in a neighborhood they liked.
Then Mary's mother died suddenly. It was a shock for the family. Mary, who had been extremely close to her mother, was overwhelmed with grief and began to suffer from depression. Because Mary refused to get out of bed in the morning, Tom began taking Susan to a day-care center on his way to work and picking her up on his way home.
Before long, Mary's health broke down completely, and for the next year she was in and out of hospitals, taking prescription drugs, and receiving counseling. Tom did his best to care for Susan and Mary. Every time he felt like he was at the end of his rope, a neighbor or friend would call, deliver a meal, or offer to babysit Susan. Tom instinctively felt that someone was praying for his family.
Then one night, Tom had a dream. He dreamed that his family was walking down a road and, although everything near them seemed to be covered in darkness, there was a beautiful golden light in the distance. With each step they took, the light grew more brilliant. Finally they were completely drawn into its dazzling beauty. When Tom awoke, he felt a new sense of peace.
When Tom shared his dream with Mary, her eyes lit up and she smiled for the first time in months. As Tom gazed into his wife's eyes, he experienced more love than he could ever describe.
It was as if God's love had reached out to them both and lifted them into each other's arms. The days that followed were still difficult, but Mary and Tom grew closer. Together, they struggled to recover health and happiness one day at a time.
Like Mary and Tom, we all have great plans and we all experience disappointments. The Scripture passage at the beginning of this reflection reminds us that we can see the glory of God shining through even in our darkest hour-in times of tribulation, failure, sickness, grief or pain. Sometimes it takes dark valleys to awaken us to new dreams or fresh perspectives about what is really important in life. What seems to be a tragedy can actually be a threshold through which we can walk together from darkness into light.
In the darkness of despair, despite our natural human sense of hopelessness, we can gaze up at a crucifix, see Christ's out stretched arms open wide to embrace us, and hear Christ speak deeply within our hearts: "I love you! I love you! I love you!" There in Christ's presence we can feel at peace and let divine strength fill us. When this happens, the glory of God will be revealed to us. It will be a dream to remember forever-a dream that will draw us closer to one another in the heart of God.
Sit quietly and breathe slowly. Be aware that your life is gift. You
are full of potential, full of promise. See yourself as a reflection of God's love made visible in the world. What are you doing? Who are you becoming? How can you live this dream today? Let this be your prayer.
Open yourself to the wonders of Earth. Lie on the grass and feel God's dream for creation. Delight in the sacred connection that joins you with all things. Kiss Earth with tenderness as you would a cherished friend.
Do one thing today to give birth to your dreams. For example:
* Repeat the loving words the Holy One is saying to you, "My beloved, this is my dream for you."
* Eat slowly, remembering to nourish your body and soul as you live your dream to become a radiant reflection of God.
* Read an inspirational book about a favorite mentor or saint who lived her or his dreams.
* Talk to a friend or spiritual guide about your dreams.
Kneel or sit before a crucifix, and bring to mind some recent disappointment, failure, weakness, sin, hurt or pain. Observe Jesus' outstretched arms embracing you. Listen as Jesus says over and
over again: I love you. Make this your prayer today:
Holy One, in the darkness, may I shine your radiant light of reconciliation, healing and transformation.
Quiet yourself inside and outside. Slowly take several deep breaths. Be aware that Jesus wants to heal anything in you that keeps you from living your dreams. Be conscious of any fears you have that keep you from living fully as an image of the Divine in your life. Imagine the healing love of Jesus embracing you now in this area of your life, bringing you through darkness to light. See yourself whole and healed, living with the vitality of the Spirit fully and passionately.
Make this your prayer today:
My Beloved, thank you for the times you have revealed your glory through me. Blessed are you for the many ways you are present in my life (name specific relation ships, events or occasions in which you manifest God's presence). Today I give you my dreams for my future (name them). All that I am, all that I have, all that I will become, belongs to you. I carry your dream, Holy One, in my heart.
Make this your prayer today:
Heart of Tenderness,
aware of your presence within and all around me, may i awaken to ways I can treat myself with gentleness. May I discover beauty in the chaos and messiness of life. May I find you close to me in the topsy-turvy of spilled milk, lost keys, screaming children, grumpy people (make your own list) and all the other things that make me crazy. Or, if that is not possible, may I be able to simply smile and laugh at myself. Amen.