" ... is it possible the cry of my heart dont reach yours; I carry your beloved name before the tabernacle and repeat it there as my prayer, in torrents of tears which our God alone understands - " (Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Letter to her son, William, 23 July,1820)
The still sticky-wet snow lays thick upon everything hushing the world and me. Leaving heart prints whose shadows run scared, although they have been whispered here before. Days long past echo sometimes through time reminding of things I had done when I was young and should have known better. Did know better. St. Francis, I am told, continued to grieve past sins long after he accepted Mercy. God's forgiveness and his own. He continued all of his life to practice deep contrition spilling tears upon tears over his compliance in Christ's passion and death. This same saint who is purported to have experienced deep ecstasy at contemplating the complexity of a simple blade of grass. I have spilled tears, too, hard, leaden, using Cover-Girl to fill in the deep grooves. Eyes swollen over the offending and, then, in the understanding of how much He. loves. me. still and eternally. Over how He scooped me up in arms wide; a squandering daughter returning. He running and scooping; me melting in shame into Him. Father, I have sinned against you. He melting the shame. And now my only son - wayward, knowing better and me blaming, searching, aching, clinging desperately to hope and ceaselessly praying. Let go, let God. Have I? The boy has let God go. I must have done something wrong.
"Just wait," she, a woman I once knew, sneered, "until they are teens or young adults. You'll see - they will abandon their faith, too. Just like all mine did." All five.
"No, not mine!" I fired back, but not for hearing. "Mine are different, raised right. Mine will never leave. They know better!" Puffed up by pride - or not - I actually believed it.
"What is wrong with boys these days?" My mother laments, referring too, to sons and other grandsons.
Well meaning friends offer, "He'll come around. He's just finding his way."His groping will leave scars. He, stubborn, unyielding, head hard as cement, creates unnecessary burden. He is not a bad kid. I know this. He is smart, handsome. You can fall into his eyes, sapphire like deep pools. His heart is kind. He often seeks to shelter others, to feed his friends; to lend a hand to make things easier, better for them. He was the one, when his sister lay bed-ridden not able to care for her own babe, barely able to walk, not able sometimes, who insisted. Words strong with conviction, "I want to do this, Mom. I want to help take care of my nephew." Once he fed bread and the Word to drunks and homeless men in the misty, wee hours of West Virginia mornings, promising them God's love. But it was not enough. It is not enough to be kind-hearted. I wish he had never gone to that God forsaken place. (Why did I let him, send him?) He wasn't ready for the battlefield. Wasn't fully girded. Too raw, too undisciplined, too attracted to bad, too tempted. And it squashed him. Pulled him in promising fun. Turning away is fun; sin is fun. So says Satan. But not really. Not for long. Not forever. Truth knows and my prodigal self knows, too, all too well. I am glad he is home, relieved. And at times I wish he'd move out. Those words sting sharp - seem like curse words almost. He squanders and I want to save him. Have I failed to pay close enough attention? Like when he was barely one and reached his hand up to touch the fiery hot underbelly of the barbecue grill? Tiny little hand singed forever in my guilt-filled mind. Let go, let God.
Long ago, the holy man Abraham climbed that Moriah mountain, carrying the knife and the fire for the slaughter, placing the wooden bundle of sacrifice upon his Isaac's shoulder. The promised son born late to a long waiting Abraham and Sarah. Yahweh instructs, "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." (Gen 22:2, emphasis added) In the preparation, in the stacking of the wood and the placing of his son, hog-tied, upon the altar did Abraham recall Isaac's first step? His first word? The days spent teaching his son about obedience and trust in God, about dangers in the wilderness, about the days of Sodom and Gomorrah? About Lot's wife looking back?
God's command seems so bizarre, so cruel. So heinous. But Abraham passes God's test and Isaac is spared. Abraham's unwavering obedience proves love of God above all else. And he is rewarded. "I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies." (Gen 22:17)
I am wildly in love with them, my kids. And I know He is the Source, the eternal Spring from whence my love flows. He asks me, too, to give them whom I love back to Him. After all, they are His, first and foremost. Can I in obedience let go of my Isaacs? Offer them on His altar? Let go, let God. Even when that child, no longer a child, is tumbling, topsy-turvy, spinning tether-less and all I want to do is hang on, knuckles white with the grasping. Let go, let God. Will my obedience, too, be rewarded?
Faith does not leap aimless. It is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.(Hebrews 11:1) And so, I hope for all wayward sons, my own and others. Pray, too, for their mothers quick to blame themselves. God does not wail like me, "I must have done something wrong" when we turn our backs to Him. When we lose sight of Him, it is our doing. He continues to keep watch, to Love and He waits for us to come home. And when we do, He is there with arms open wide. And so, I will let go and let God, and entrust my son to him. And continue to pray, to love, to watch and to wait ready for the embrace.