I have a little girl inside of me who’s afraid of the dark. She still believes there are monsters under the bed. She fears the face of the boogieman on the social media screens.
Lately she has been knocking on the door of my heart a lot. Asking me to let her in and comfort her.
She wants to cry. To crawl into my lap, put her face down and sob.
Such sadness she is feeling. The world seems so scary.
As the wise, experienced, adult mother who has raised my own little boy – a child who also needed comfort and reassurance when afraid – I should know how to do this, right?
And often I do. I can sit quietly and let my little one have my full attention as I cradle her tears in the cup of my heart.
But sometimes – like recently, with what I’ve heard and witnessed about our migrant families, especially the children – I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach. While the little girl in me is anxious and scared about the treatment of the children, about what is happening to those who are no longer able to come to our hospitality center, the wise mother in me is concerned about their safety. And deeply saddened by their treatment at our hands.
Distressed and sorrowful, I feel like I’m failing my own little one when she knocks on my door seeking comfort.
And I know need a little help.
Sometimes I must pray and ask the Divine Mother, my Higher Self, my Source, my Beloved – whatever name I need to use to better connect me with God in the moment – to soothe my own adult sorrow.
God always assures me that although He/She cannot take the pain away, I am never alone in it. My Beloved assures both me and my little one that feeling this sadness is not frightening. It’s a good thing.
It means we care. It means we love. It means we will act with justice and mercy.
And in turn, feeling these feelings means I can also fully feel joy, love, and beauty.
Sometimes I read children’s books to my little girl to soothe her. I let the preciousness of these stories wash over me. It feels good to do that for her.
And sometimes my Beloved gifts me with inspiring stories that soothe my adult self.
One of those gifts is Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbrook, written in 1942-1943. I’ve been turning to her beautiful words lately, this young Jewish woman who despite knowing she would die in the Nazi camps, had attained that “peace which surpasses all understanding.”
Etty recognized God’s graces all around her in the hellish camp where she was assigned. She recognized beauty in the patch of blue sky, the field of lupins, the quiet moments to herself. And she did this in the midst of what she described as “a misery beyond all bounds of reality.”
In one of her last letters, Etty prophetically writes:
“And I also believe, childishly perhaps but stubbornly, that the earth will become more habitable again only through the love that the Jew Paul described to the citizens of Corinth in the thirteenth chapter of his first letter.”
We all know that chapter in the New Testament. We’ve heard it recited at many a Catholic wedding.
But do we remember how it starts out: “Now I will show you the way which surpasses all the others.”
When my little one knocks, I remind both her and myself that we know the way that surpasses all others.
We know, despite any evidence to the contrary, that “Love never fails.” And the One who knocks waits patiently for us to let Love in.