Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common brush afire with God;
But only he who see takes off his shoes.
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. (EB Browing)
I’m no theologian. I’m not even a used to be whatever before I chose to stay home and raise my kids. All I ever dreamed about as a young teen; all I ever pretended not to care about during two years of college, was being a wife and mother. To have my own little house and my own good husband and our own cute kids. The glasses through which I see the world are shaped like a family, polished by many years of marriage and homeschooling adventures. Since becoming Catholic, our Holy Mother Church has gently rubbed away smudges, revealing nothing short of radiance. God’s fire on earth.
This is why I find children’s explanations of sacraments the most profound : An earthly action with a heavenly reaction ; a sign of God’s grace. Jesus used common matter (water, mud, oil, bread) and spiritual things happened. He could have simply stated His desired outcome instead of mixing mud, dipping water, breaking bread, and pulling out people’s activity; but Our Lord used the earth. After all, He created it!
So we zoomed off to church one Sunday without too much arguing, to present little Addie for the Sacrament of Baptism, confident in our grasp of sacramental graces. She was washed clean of original sin (1 Peter 3:20-22), and in the words of the Rite “By water and the Holy Spirit she is to receive the gift of new life from God Who is Love.” (John 3:3-5)
Suddenly something spoke to me. The words of the precious, powerful Rite rubbed another spot on my glasses clean: Health problems do not hinder the holy covenant. Listen to this (again!):
On your part (the parents), you must make it your constant care to bring Adah Marie up in the practice of the Faith. See that the divine life which God gives her is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in her heart.
May she go out to meet Him with the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
God the Father, through His Son, the Virgin Mary’s Child, has brought joy to all Christian mothers as they see the hope of eternal life shine in their children. May God bless Allison, the mother of this child. She now thanks God for the gift of her daughter. May she be one with Adah Marie in thanking God forever in heaven. In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Cystic fibrosis (in our case) cannot touch the power, the promises, or the prayers of the blessed sacrament (The simmering Pentecostal in me wanted to shout, “Hallelujah!”). The new life, the divine life, the everlasting life, the thankful life ~ here and forever in heaven is what real life is all about. Poor health does not ruin it; indeed, according to our Holy Faith, it can even draw one closer to Jesus. It is why we work and love and suffer and smile in this land of exile. Actually, sweet Addie with her health problems is “…chosen by God to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery.” (Colossians 1:24-29 because the entire passage is marvelous.).
Every bush, every person is afire with God.
May we be grateful for delicious blackberries and looking for God’s flames, as the Church continues to clean our glasses. We are all crammed with heaven!
Allison is a 40-something mother of seven, living in Alaska, accepted into the Church (together with her husband, thank God) in 2004. She spends her days homeschooling and packaging meat that her menfolk hunt and bring home. She cannot garden to save her life but picks wild blueberries like a champ. She has been published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul and keeps a blog at www.northerncffamily.blogspot.com, writing about living out the Faith with children with cystic fibrosis.