August 3, 2012

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Spend some quiet time with God and walk away refreshed

Patti LambLast week, my 4-year-old daughter, Margaret, caught a glimpse of her older brother’s television show and it terrified her.

Although it was only a cartoon, the green pirate on an episode of “SpongeBob Squarepants” scared her so badly that she ran and hid under the kitchen table, using her stuffed animal to shield her eyes. I tried ineffectively to coax her out of her hiding place by employing logic and explaining that it was all pretend. It was no use.

Later that night, she climbed into our bed and nestled herself under the covers. When I tried to return Margaret to her own bed, she pleaded, “Puh-leease, let me stay. I’m so scared.”

Thoughts of that green pirate tormented her, and she sought refuge.

I put my arm around her, and within three minutes she was snoring. My husband and I didn’t get much sleep that night, but I can assure you that Margaret slept like a baby.

It took me back to younger days. When I was little and the world was wrong, all I would have to do is curl up in my mother or father’s lap to find some peace. There wasn’t anything that my parents said to make it all better. It helped just knowing that they were there for me.

Something my sister said prompted me to remember the virtue in “being there.”

After my friend’s husband passed away within two weeks of their daughter’s birth, I told my sister I felt like nothing I could say would make it better. She told me that there is such a thing as the ministry of presence. That means just being there for someone in their time of need.

The ministry of presence is one we all practice. We do it for more people than we realize.

“I’m here if you need anything,” we say.

I’m learning that there’s also a great way we can experience the presence of God—in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Simply stated, it’s when you sit before God—who is present in the Eucharist—in silence.

My parish offers it on Fridays so I have been going when possible. Usually, I go before God with a long list of petitions and prayers. But after I’ve exhausted my list, I just sit quietly and listen.

For a few minutes, I can hear myself think. I shut out the noise of the world and just sit in God’s presence.

And it always leaves me feeling recharged. I don’t walk away with all the answers to my prayers and problems, but I leave knowing that there is someone there if I need anything.

If you can’t make it to adoration, you can talk to God right in your own home. Wherever you are—that’s where he is, too.

Sometimes our schedules and life’s demands might not allow us to make it to adoration, although there are several parishes in the archdiocese with adoration chapels open 24 hours a day. But I find that closing the bedroom door and sitting quietly before God is beneficial and renewing, too.

Make the time to spend a few quiet minutes with God occasionally, and you might walk away like my 4-year-old did after her pirate nightmares—refreshed and a bit less afraid.

Though there might still be scary green cartoon pirates—or even scarier and more real fears to face when we grow older—it’s nice to know that there is someone we can go to who can make it all OK.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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