We live, dear Father, in a world without roots,
in a world in which we have forgotten
where we come from and where we are going.
Thus we have forgotten, also, who we are.
In the individualism of our culture, indeed,
we have lost sight of what it means
to truly be individual and unique.
I have encountered this so many times,
in people who face anxiety and despair,
unsure of who they are, the meaning of their life.
There is a disconnect, here, from two things,
and these two things themselves
are disconnected from one another.
I don’t know, really, who I am,
and am alienated from myself, estranged,
and yet, on the other hand,
I also feel so lonely, isolated,
like I have no home,
no place where I am welcomed and understood.
I, You, and We, in these things I find life,
and these things are deeply related,
and, yet, I cannot harmonize them,
for I have lost sight of their unity;
they seem at odds, broken asunder,
because divorced from the One, the true Thou,
in whom they are all sheltered and held fast.
We each bear deep within us
a longing that cannot be effaced:
to really be recognized as unique, unrepeatable,
and to be loved and embraced precisely as such.
And yet the profound mystery is that
such uniqueness is sheltered and blossoms
precisely through the enfolding arms of community,
through the living tradition that goes before
and remains alive and present even now.
A child in the arms of his mother
understands this spontaneously,
without need for words or explanation.
I am, unique, precious, and beloved;
I see it in my mother’s loving eyes.
And yet I am only because of her,
not closed and isolated within myself.
For my life is gift, pure, gratuitous,
flowing from her love
–yes, from a deeper love than hers alone–
a gift sheltered by her, welcomed,
and brought to life precisely through relationship.
For only through receiving her glance, her smile,
do I come to know, indeed, that I am.
I am one in relationship, one beloved,
indebted thus, always, to what goes before me.
And receiving, freely, this indebtedness,
I learn over time to exist more and more
in communion of heart, mind, and will
with those who enfold my daily life,
reaching out, above all, to the One
who enfolds all of us within himself.
Yes, my uniqueness is not threatened
by true relationship and communion,
but precisely fostered and thus brought to light.
Nonetheless, it is also something deeper,
alive within the many-faceted tradition,
the home-hearth surrounding me,
yet reaching out beyond all of this,
to discover the fullness for which it yearns,
a seed of hope for a yet deeper home.
This is the beauty, the gift, of baptismal grace;
that the gaze of mother looking on me,
the first awakening to the gift of life,
is yet renewed, indeed surpassed,
through the reception of a greater gift,
adoption into a greater family,
and welcoming into a tradition, a home-hearth,
that has existed since born from the Savior’s side.
Indeed, here I find myself enfolded in a Mother’s arms,
I find myself again nursing at her tender breast,
I find myself fostered in the uniqueness of my life
as a precious, beloved child of God.
I am a child, for this I was created,
not a gift super-added to natural childhood;
no, for I was born, indeed, to be baptized,
born to be born again into this family,
family of Mother Church, Body of Christ,
family of the Holy Trinity, indeed,
embrace between Father, Spirit, and Son.
It is such a mystery: when I forget my origin,
my origin in the womb of my natural mother,
in the roots of family, humanity, culture,
I forget who I am, losing myself.
And yet I am not only these surrounding things;
for there is a mystery deeper than all of this,
known only to God and willed by him,
and yet present precisely in the midst of all of this.
There is a union of the two together,
beautifully inseparable yet beautifully distinct:
my own uniqueness, and my existence in community.
Yes, my indebtedness to every one, to every thing,
as a little child, simply receiving anew,
even into old age, the gift of life,
and the blossoming, within all of this,
of the unique gift that I am,
welcomed, embraced, accepted,
as mine from God, yet not mine alone,
but given anew in return, in gratitude,
to the community whom I love,
for brother, sister, friend, for world and culture,
and given, above all, as a gift back to God.
Yes, my life is from beginning to end
a kind of sacred eucharist,
from gestation in the tabernacle of my mother’s womb,
to the womb of baptismal water’s, Mother Church,
to the first moment of intimacy with the Eucharistic Christ,
the One who, through death and Resurrection,
is completely open as space of gift and acceptance,
to the reinsertion into the family from which I have fallen
through the re-opening of my heart in Confession’s act,
to my life, my work, my prayer, my being itself,
in which my existence becomes a gift for others,
to the last breath leaving my lungs, as I go,
surrounded by those to whom I am indebted,
into the arms of the One who has given me myself,
and given me, also, all persons and all things.
In this final letting go, the gift that is my life
becomes now a definitive, final gift,
and I am embraced, at last,
by what during life I could never entirely
tie back together: my uniqueness in myself,
alone in unutterable solitude before God,
and yet my inseparability from community.
As the bounds of fallen flesh are released
I can at last return to my own deepest mystery,
enfolded in the arms of the welcoming God,
the heavenly Jerusalem who is Mother Church,
and yet I also find this openness, barriers falling away,
allowing me to be present, fully, to every one,
and to welcome every one into who I am.
This is so because, home-coming at last
into the home of the Trinity’s embrace,
I find myself and I also find all things,
here in the One who already, always,
embraces and penetrates each and all,
who is always close, always embracing,
nursing us at his gentle, loving breast,
and smiling upon us, thus to teach us
both who we are and, beautifully, who he is.