1 John 2:29-3:6
"but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me. . ." John 1: 33
I believe with all my heart that God wants to speak to each of us, just as He did to John the Baptist in this reading. There are many ways He can communicate with us, such as through nature, through the words of another person, through scripture, through circumstances, and through music. But I also believe that we can hear Him in the quiet of our hearts.
One of the most profound times this happened to me was when I was grieving for my mom. She died the year I turned 40, nine years after my dad had died. I thought to myself, "I know how to grieve, I did it before, I can do it again." But my grief was debilitating and seemed overwhelming at times. It would surprise me suddenly and I’d find myself sobbing in a grocery store or at mass. Maybe it was losing my Mom, or maybe it was losing my second parent that made it more difficult. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I cried often, and a lot. I was still trying to call her on the phone two years after she died.
That year as I was on the road driving to my yearly women’s retreat, I heard the Lord say to me in my spirit, "I’m going to help you deal with your Mom’s death." I was hopeful and grateful, because it had been so hard, and I didn’t seem to be making much progress. The minute I got to the retreat center, I ran straight to the chapel, knelt at the altar and looked up at Jesus on the crucifix and said, "I’m here Lord, tell me what to do."
And I heard, "Close the casket."
"Close the casket."
"What do you mean Lord?"
"The last picture you have of your Mom is seeing her dead in the casket. But she’s not dead, she’s more alive than you are! She’s here with me. See her dancing with your Dad. See her playing cards with your kids. You need to change the picture you have of her in your head."
"I can do that! Thank you Lord!"
And I did do that. I closed the casket in my mind and changed the way I thought about my Mom from then on. I saw her sitting in her brown chair holding my kids, or standing at the door to welcome us when we came to visit. It was the turning point in my grieving process. I still miss my mom, but now I recall my favorite memories of her, and I thank God for the blessing she was in my life. And of course, I look forward to the day I will see her again in heaven!
One more thing. . .I had been grieving for over two years when God spoke these words to me. Give yourself time to grieve, but when that time is over, let God help you "close the casket" too. "There is an appointed time for everything. . . a time to be born, a time to die. . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." (Eccl 3:1a, 2a, 4)
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently wrote her first book: God Speaks to Ordinary People – Like You and Me. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].