January 29, 2010

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Letting God work through you in the stillness of life

Debra TomaselliFor weeks, I worked to deepen my relationship with God, but no matter how many prayers that I recited, services I attended, volunteer works I performed, he seemed distant and untouchable.

The same routines that formerly delivered a glimpse of his holy presence failed to create a stir. In fact, the busier I got searching for him, the more remote he seemed.

Then I needed to put my life on hold to undergo minor surgery. I expected to return to my normal routine on Monday, but medical complications dictated extended bed rest. Instead, I spent the day feeling isolated, devalued and frustrated.

Finally, I picked up my copy of a book called Divine Embrace by Ken Gire. I flipped to a page where the author addresses a spiritually dry period in his life, a time when he, too, was searching for a deeper relationship with God and found only stillness. In hindsight, he reflects, “God had indeed been silent. But silent in the way an artist at work is silent. He had been quietly at work in me, forming Christ in me.”

With that thought, I relaxed. Maybe silence was OK.

That night, I dreamed I was walking on the beach at sunset with an insightful priest from our parish. Streams of deep pink dissipated into the dark night sky. We reached the far end of the building, where he planned to head inside for the evening.

As we parted, he turned to me and asked, “What will be your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning?”

At first, I drew a blank. Then I blurted, “I will thank God for the gift of another day.” Even in my dream, my response startled me. I had been anything but thankful for the day I just had been given.

The priest smiled and disappeared, but an overpowering delight filled me. God seemed to whisper, “You understand. That’s all I want.”

The next morning, the sound of the kids awakened me. I slipped from the bedcovers and twisted open the blinds. Hot pink streaks scored the early morning haze. Suddenly, I remembered my dream.

As I thanked God for the gift of yet another day, I traded my frustration, anxiety and isolation for appreciation and acceptance of God’s offering—no matter what the day held or released.

And the joy never left my heart.

Dear Lord, help us to develop thankful hearts, regardless of our circumstances today. Amen.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.) †

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