Monday, November 23, 2009

The arms of the Beloved

Today I found a reflection by Edward J. van Merrienboer on prayer as it relates to social justice. Here is just a little snippet from that piece:
Closely linked with the attitude of thanks is the prayer of adoration. This prayer is found in the story of the transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:28-35). It is rooted in experiences of seeing more fully the face of God during our faith journey. This method of prayer requires an effort on our part to see beyond the surface of human experience. Dorothy Day once put it this way, "reach out to eternity." Often in private. and passionate ways people reach out to their beloved God. A small child living in a shelter in Denver told me that once when she was on a swing she let herself swing into Jesus' arms. She said that they were so strong and warm that she just liked to think about those arms.

A few weeks after she told me this, I found a holy card of Jesus as a carpenter with his arms bare and strong. I gave the card to the little girl and her response was, "Oh, now I can just look at those arms." Adoration is like looking; adoration is its own goal. Her experience of Jesus has encouraged me to just take time to "look" at Jesus.
I actually understand that. Years ago when I was earning my living as a musician, my orchestra conductor helped me wonderfully with a passage that I was very nervious about. While conducting (with his arms lifted and outstretched, of course) he made eye contact with me and his face had a wonderfully encouraging and confidence-inspiring expression on it. My experience of performing that previously scary passage was like falling into the arms of God. I've never forgotten it.

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