When I was 5 years old, my older sister, 12, my brother, 10, my other sister, 8, came to me and said, “You have to go into Mom’s room and console her, because she has been crying all day long and we cannot console her. You, Pierre, go and console her. She loves you.” I was proud of having received that mission, but very, very scared. My mother was crying a lot, and seemed both despaired and angry for several years. The idea of entering her bedroom with such a mission was frightening. But I felt I had no choice. When she saw me in her room, she shouted, “Go away! Go away! You cannot understand!” I felt defeated, inadequate, rejected. I had failed my mission. Facing my siblings was not easy. For many years, I had all kinds of symbolic nightmares, expressing the emotions that I had felt that day when I was five years old.
My spiritual director, several years ago, helped me with the healing of that painful memory. With him, I went again through all the steps of those painful events in my memory, this time with Christ. After all, he was there when that happened, but I could not yet receive his help. With Christ in my imagination, I relived the encounter with my siblings who gave me that impossible “mission” for a 5-year old, and I forgave them. With Christ, and after him, I entered the bedroom of my mother. He talked to her first, and then brought me close to her. I felt I could forgive her now even if I didn’t fully understand her. Then I went back to my siblings with Christ, forgave them again, and the words that came to me, that were given to me, were, “Now, I can get back to being a joyful, playful child!”
But it’s only last Thursday, Mar 16, that I understood the deep truth in these words. Msgr. John Esseff, our retreat preacher, said to the priests of the diocese, “Dear priests, you are called ‘father’, but you cannot really be a father, unless you can be a child, a child of God the Father, a child who is willing to be cared for by his Father God. Then I realized that I had tried to be a father so much that I didn’t have time to be a little child in the arms of the Father or in the arms of Mother Mary. Even during that beautiful Parish Lenten retreat of last week by Msgr Esseff and Sister Cor Immaculata, I was busy adjusting the mikes, walking around the church to open or close the door, so that it would not be too cold or too hot. I didn’t give myself a time to receive what God had to give me through Monsignor or Sister. I was all about caring for others and understanding them. But not about absorbing what God wanted to give me. Now, I want to allow myself to receive from God, through silent prayer. I want to get back into the business of being a playful child in his arms. I don’t need to prove myself that I can do everything because only God can do everything and with him, nothing is impossible.
How many fathers and mothers want to give constantly, without having time to receive? Take time to receive from God, take the time to be cared for by God, then your well will never run dry. You will remain joyful and playful like a child full of humor and excitement, even in the worst circumstances of life. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “You will never need to go back at the well. Your heart will be watered by a spring of living water welling up into eternal life.”
If you want to keep giving love, you must be connected to Christ living in you, Christ, the spring of living water, welling up into divine life. You will be another Christ. Otherwise, your heart will get empty quickly.
God bless you! Fr. Pierre