Who am I?

Banias, Ancient Caesarea Philippi
OSU Special Collections and Archives

A woman asked me once, in a confrontational way, “Who are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. All I could think was, I am me. I didn’t think she would understand.

And mostly I don’t understand the “me” who inhabits this frail human body. I believe I am a precious daughter of God. Sometimes a wilful child, sometimes a cooperative one, sometimes cranky, sometimes cheerful, sometimes resentful, sometimes forgiving.

In light of the Lord’s perfection, I am a humble pupil, a striving wannabe, a stumbling follower in the way of love and compassion.

[Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15

Great is your faith

Unknown maker, Rembrandt Pupil, active 1650s
Christ and the Canaanite Woman, 1650
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrected with white gouache
J. Paul Getty Museum

Every day I have choices to make. I look to the Scriptures to decide what is right and just:
Love my neighbors, love my enemies.
Pray for those who persecute me.
Forgive those who hurt me.
Welcome strangers.
Feed the hungry.
Give shelter to the homeless.

Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just. Isaiah 56:1a

 

Save me

Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
Jesus Walks on the Sea
between 1866 and 1870

When the winds of pain, stress, and anxiety blow strong, I tend to lose sight of love and goodness and sink into despair.

Today I will take time alone to pray. I will entrust my troubles to the Lord, and accept the healing of the Lord’s eternal patience, compassion, and presence.

[Jesus] went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

God’s beloved

The Transfiguration
JESUS MAFA. Transfiguration, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved August 6, 2017].

I wonder, if I listened very hard, if I would hear a holy voice say I am God’s beloved child.

I wonder how it would change me to live with the knowledge that I am God’s beloved child, that we are all God’s beloved children, that God is pleased and delighted by our presence.

From the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Matthew 17:5b-8

In the net

William H. Rau (1855-1920)
Fishermen by the Sea of Galilee, Palestine
stereograph, gelatin silver, ca.29 December 1903

Today’s net holds a variety of interesting “fish.” I find joy in the beautiful morning. Pain deep in my bones. Ease for the pain in the sun’s warmth. Anxiety about returning to work tomorrow. Comfort in the cat’s purr. Annoyance in the in-and-out demands of another cat. An opportunity to be in touch with my elderly aunt. A message from a friend.

To be in the kingdom of heaven is to choose the fish that feed me and others. It is to make a deliberate effort to discard the fish that weaken my ability to love.

Today I choose to let go of anxiety and annoyance. I choose to be gentle with the pain. I choose to give thanks for the beauty of the world and the people I encounter.

[Jesus said to his disciples,] “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.” Matthew 13:47-48

In God’s care

James Tissot (1836-1902)
Le semeur
opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894
Brooklyn Museum

All people, including me, no matter what’s going on in the world, are in the tender, compassionate, comforting care of God.

Today I thank God for taking care of me.

There is no god besides you who have the care of all. Wisdom 12:13

 

By the sea

Sea of Galilee
Photochrom print (color photo lithograph), between 1890 and 1905

Sound travels further over water. When the crowd gathers around him, Jesus gets in the boat to make it easier for everyone to hear his teaching.

How blessed are we that our Lord is eager to speak to us and make sure we hear his voice. Today I will take time to listen.

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. Matthew 13:1-2