"I am with you always." Matthew 28:20 (NRSV)
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Looking into her eyes and holding her hand, I attempted to comfort my mother during the long nights as she lay dying.
"Mom," I said over and over, "I love you and I am here with you."
She and I both knew that my presence did not take away her suffering, but it did assure her that she was not alone. In the end, the greatest gift we gave each other was our presence to each other in deep love and acceptance.
A busy father, whose job required that he travel a great deal, asked his eight-year-old daughter what special gift she wanted for her birthday. Her response was, "I want you, Daddy."
So often we get preoccupied with our work and activities, leaving no room for the most important people in our lives. We fail to be truly present to the ones we love. Perhaps we need to do less and enjoy more-especially those precious opportunities to be
fully present to our family and friends.
Jesus assures us that no matter what happens, God is with us. We can rely on the divine presence to love, heal, comfort and transform us, no matter what crisis or challenge we may face. In all things, God is with us. We can find God in everyday places and events. In all our sorrows, God cries with us. In all our challenges, God encourages us. In all our joys, God celebrates with us. All we have to do is let go, relax and allow ourselves to be loved right here, right now, each moment of our lives.
Become still and relaxed. Be aware of your breathing. Slowly inhale and exhale, allowing God's boundless love to fill your whole body. Release tension in your head, face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, abdomen, arms, hands, fingers, hips, legs, feet, toes. Imagine God embracing you and affirming you as a wonderful, gifted, beautiful person.
Be aware of God's presence in the ordinary events of your day. Begin each activity fully conscious that God is loving, healing, transforming, refreshing, inspiring and energizing you. Be con scious that God is loving others through you, in every encounter you have.
Be aware that everything around you is charged with God's glorious presence. Every sight you see, every sound you hear, and every thing you smell, taste and touch is a potential encounter with the Divine.
Contemplate Earth as a treasure God has given you to explore. Take a nature walk, look out a window, or simply imagine nature's beauty as a way to evoke the sacred around you. Give thanks for the beauty you experience in plants, clouds, sun, animals. Contemplate all creatures, including human beings, living together as one family in peace, justice and harmony, sharing a common home: Earth.
Surrender to God any area of worry or concern. During your prayer, open your hands as a sign of your letting go and giving to God each thought or situation that comes to mind. Imagine God's gentle hands lifting your concerns from you and giving you the gift of peace. Be open to anything God wants to say or do to free and heal you.
Be aware that your body is one of God's favorite dwelling places. You are a unique reflection of the Divine Image. Look at yourself in the mirror and give thanks for your being. You are the face of God in our world. God has no hands or feet on Earth but yours, as St. Teresa of Avila says. When you serve others, God is loving through you, which includes things as simple as preparing a meal for your family or mowing the lawn for a neighbor. Your simple and generous actions reveal God's presence in the world.
Make this your prayer today:
0 Holy One, I love you with all my heart. I find you within me, beside me always.
Your promise removes my fears and gives me hope.Your warm understanding and tender compassion enfold me.Your grace and strength flow in me and through me.
I celebrate your life and glorious presence with me forever.
Note: This reflection is chapter 4 in A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver