I used to get the same request twenty times a day: “Mommy, can we cuddle?” It always came at the most inopportune of moments. When bits of raw hamburger were making their way up my arms as I mixed a triple batch of meatloaf, for instance. Or when I was tearing apart the couch, searching frantically for the ringing phone to catch the long-awaited call-back from the pediatrician. When somebody was late for something and somebody else was missing a shoe. When the dam broke on a five-week stretch of writer’s block, letting loose a torrent of inspiration that needed to be immediately pounded onto a computer keyboard or stand the risk of being lost forever.
I realized the other day I haven’t had the “problem” in quite some time now. My youngest will be eight next month, and I find myself missing that cuddle time with my little ones, who are not so little anymore and would rather be playing baseball or making music videos. The fact of the matter is, I didn’t know it back then, but I needed to cuddle as much as they did. I’m sure the children didn’t know it either. No doubt, we all thought the parent was doing the child the favor.
The other day, I was slurping down my chai latte, enjoying the heck out it, which right away should have been a sign that something was not right with the world. I have an undying allegiance to coffee and felt a little like I was cheating. Anyway, I looked at the clock and realized it was 11:42, which meant I had broken the one-hour fast before the weekday noon Mass.
“I’m not going to be able to receive Communion!” I lamented.
Our pastor doesn’t give a homily at the noon Mass, so the final blessing often comes by 12:40. I couldn’t believe I had ruined my chance of receiving Jesus all for a cup of tea. Tea, for crying out loud.
I had resigned myself to the very real possibility that I would have to skip Holy Communion. All during Mass, I kept glancing at the clock behind me, (not a good way to spend a Mass). At 12:33, I offered a whispered explanation to my 13-year-old son of why I wouldn’t be joining him in the Communion line. He started praying that "time would slow down" so I could receive Jesus. And then, the consecration was complete, and I remained kneeling in my pew as my son got in line. He gave me a sympathetic look as he returned and kneeled to pray. By the time most people had made their way through the line, I started to realize I just might make it to the one-hour mark, (yes, I was still fixated on the clock) so I joined the end of the line, hoping for a slow enough procession of communicants. I offered up a silent hope, from my heart to God’s ears, that I was indeed doing the right thing. Then, I kneeled and received. When I got back to my seat, my son whispered, "Mom, your knees hit the kneeler to receive Communion at exactly 12:42."
My oldest daughter, who had been sitting with a friend, later told me that for some reason, she felt like Mass that day seemed to take a particularly long time. This is the daughter who would rather go to Mass than do anything else, and sometimes sings at three or four Masses on a weekend.
So now, I have to ponder all of this. Is it possible? Could it be? Does Jesus want to be with me as much as I want to be with Him? Why would He go to such lengths to arrange our union? It is obvious that He did something. Either He made every part of the Mass last just long enough to get me to Communion at 12:42, or knowing how long Mass was going to take, He sent my angel to whisper in my ear to quit gulping chai just in the nick of time.
Maybe, somewhere in the depth of my being, I have always viewed my friendship with God as somewhat one-sided. If you would have asked me about it, I would have told you that God desires your friendship every bit as much as you desire His. But nobody ever asked. So I never gave it much thought. And yet, it makes perfect sense. He is, after all, a Father. No, not just a father. The Father. The perfect parent. And if parents need the love of their children, then a perfect parent has nothing less than a perfect, absolute, complete need for the love of His child.
I have never really thought of wishing God a happy Father's Day, but this year, I am not going to forget Him. I'm going to try to remember what many children often forget about their parents, and what I have too often forgotten about God the Father. Namely, that He longs for my love as much as I need His.
Copyright 2013 Sherry Boas
About the Author
Sherry Boas is author of the Lily Series, which has grown into a beloved collection of novels whose characters’ lives are unpredictably transformed by a woman with Down syndrome. The former newspaper reporter and special needs adoptive mother of four is also author of A Mother's Bouquet: Rosary Meditations for Moms, Billowtail, Victoria's Sparrows, Little Maximus Myers, Archangela's Horse, and Wing Tip. She runs Caritas Press from her home office in stolen moments between over-cooking the pasta and forgetting to dust the chandelier. Find her work at CaritasPress.org.