Yesterday, our parish celebrated the memorial for St. Paul of the Cross. I know this because I heard Father say “Paul,” at some point.
Honestly, it could have been Saul, wall, or Fall, for all I know. I couldn’t hear; I was pacing the atrium with my toddler who was chanting “URSH, MAMA, URSH.”
“Ursh” is “nurse” in toddler-speak, at least in this toddler’s speak. I didn’t have the appropriate wardrobe for this activity, so I had to turn him down. Being a great-great-great (great-great-great) grandson of the persistent widow, he kept up his chant through the entire 40-minute liturgy. Since “ursh” was the only homily available to me at the time, “ursh” is what I meditated on.
I noticed that Dominic was calm but relentless in his request. He wanted to connect with me in a specific way, right then and there, with no regard for the time or place. What can I learn from this?
Do I seek connection with God persistently, with no regard for time and place? Have I ever, even once, chanted for God’s love and nourishment whenever and wherever I felt the impulse to do so? If I prayed as openly as Dominic did, what would that do for the world and the people around me? Scripture is clear that those who persist in prayer are always rewarded with God’s presence. Do I have the humility to seek him out as un-self-consciously as a baby?
While I mulled these thoughts over, something shifted within in me. It’s almost as though I heard, “Yes, but what if the child is Me?”
What if God seeks out my love as brazenly and relentlessly as Dominic was seeking me? That’s a paradigm shifter.
What if God wants to connect with me wherever I am, does not care at all for social protocol, and has no sense of occasion. What if “URSH, MAMA, URSH,” is an icon of God’s heart for me, which longs for my attention more passionately and urgently than a nursing baby longs for its mother?
Much of Jesus’ life while he walked the earth reveals a reckless, affectionate love. We emphasize that love is an act of the will, and it is, but we ignore that a rightly ordered will is moved by rightly ordered desire. Jesus wants us. He doesn’t love us with a begrudging sense of duty, but youthful exuberance that toddlers are only a foretaste of. This is what my little preacher was telling me yesterday.
I know the demands of early childhood are intense, but there’s a message in the intensity: GOD LOVES YOU INTENSELY. He wants to be with you now and in eternity. You know that happy dance toddlers do when you give them what they ask for? Let’s give God the love he is asking for and start a heavenly happy-dance party.
Maybe you haven’t heard a real homily in ages, but God can do a lot with your restless kids when you have ears to hear. Let us know what your preachers have shared with you in the comments.