Just One

Sometimes, I feel so small.

NASA, earth, planet

This planet is far too large for me to understand, with way too many people for my mind to comprehend.  What does 7 billion mean?  And here I am, just one.  Just one blade of grass in a continent wide savanna, one tiny drop of water in an ocean of earth-time.

And yet…

And yet, within these little bones of mine, beneath this fragile skin, I feel gnawing, aching, heartbreaking sorrows, quaking everything within me more violently than tectonic plates and magma flow.  This quivering verge of cataclysm is somehow hidden, unseen by other eyes, the tremors undetected.  And this is true for every one.  A human life can slip so easily through a fissure of space where no hands can grab it back – and the earth doesn’t even know that it is gone.

Why would God want to feel like this?

Why would God take on human flesh and limitations, a tender heart susceptible to storms and pain?…  To become a small blossom of humanity easily decimated by the winds of war, sickness and age, forgotten, neglected, rejected, ignored, unseen…?

God must know something that I don’t.

babies, infant, newborn, foot

In preparing to commemorate the birth of God Incarnate into the world, filled with awe, I wonder… and I wonder… and I am stilled with wonder

– that the All-Powerful Creator and Master of the Universe Entire should become so small.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Photo by Ryan Graybill on Unsplash

Mama

My mother is having surgery today.  She needs to have a full tear in her rotator cuff repaired – a surgery that is not uncommon.  But, I admit… I’m still worried.

Yes, I’m a bit of a worrier, what can I say?

Of course, I hope and pray that all will go well – that God will guide the hands and minds of the surgeon and all who are involved, according to His Perfect Will.  And I do trust in God’s goodness.  (All prayers are welcome!)

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little of my mother with you.

So much more to me than a mother is she, although a mother is beyond good and beautiful, a wonderful wonder to be…

I’ve always been disabled, but mothers are supposed to take care of their children.  Now that I am an adult with great dependence and need, my mother is still my caregiver – even though, through the years, her own physical abilities have declined and racked her body beyond her age.  Being a hard worker, selfless, and stubborn, she pushes through pain and weakness, shuffling, bent over, dragging herself to do what she feels needs to be done.  As a woman, she is a marvel.  As a mother, she is a treasure.  And, as a human being, she is my friend, one of my favorite people in the world.

Hoping that this doesn’t sound too sacrilegious, I was thinking the other day of how my words to describe my mother are many of the same words that I use to describe Christ.

She is my rock.  Not only because she is tough, but also because her gifts and talents are constants, reliable, always there when I need them.  She is the firm foundation of our family.  No matter what the many things that assail her, if I really need her, she finds a way.

She is my refuge.  Everyone who has ever come to our house knows that my mother’s home is a true home, not only for her family, but for everyone invited, who all feel comfortable and lavishly pampered in a house of love.

She is my light.  When my mother is happy, everything is easy, music and laughter fill the house, and we deliciously delight in each other’s company.  Even when she isn’t happy, if I have a small decision to make, if I’m not quite sure how to do something or move forward, my mother is the one to whom I turn.  Her practical wisdom is unmatched (even if she doesn’t always take her own advice!)

As we are preparing for Christmas (my mother’s favorite time of year) these thoughts about my own mother make me think about Christ’s relationship with his.  Aren’t many of the things that I said about my mom true about many good mothers?  Of course, the mother of Jesus is exceptional – there is no denying that.  Mystery of Mysteries, God chose her to be His own mother.  How he must have loved her!  But… my mother is exceptional, too.  As disabled as her body is, she pushes through her pain and weakness and cares for me (and I so don’t deserve it – no arguing.)  And she cares for others with love and joy, with a selfless generosity that goes beyond being a “good” mom or even a great one.  And… mystery of mysteries, God chose her to be my mother.

I thank You, my Lord and my God, for the amazing person whom I am honored and privileged to call, “Mama”!  Watch over her and take good care of her, please, helping her to recover fully and well, with as little pain as possible.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Advent Waiting… Christmas Is Coming

I love the Advent Season.  When I was a kid, that meant that I loved Advent calendars.

Advent calendar

Oooo… my kind of Advent calendar!

Opening little doors every day to find hidden words, pictures, or best of all, CHOCOLATE, gave me a delighted little thrill that is still very warm in my memory.  I confess, the deeper, symbolic meaning of Advent was lost on me.  Back then, Advent was all about counting down to Christmas.

What child who receives presents on Christmas morning doesn’t shiver with excitement as the day draws nearer and nearer?  My parents were generous, but also practical.  My older sister sister and I knew that the only toys or games that we would own would be gifts received for either our birthdays or Christmas.  And we both have April birthdays.  So, during that long, long period between the end April and the end of December, whenever we might desire something, from a toy to a jacket, we would hear from our mother, “Christmas is coming.”  Even in July! Continue reading

The Blogging Experience

video cover

Four years ago, I pushed out of my comfort zone and did two things which have had lasting effect on my life: (1) I made a personal act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and (2) I started a blog.  This blog.  The original intent of Divine Incarnate was to chronicle my consecrated life.  (My fourth anniversary was this past Sunday, The Feast of Christ the King.)  This experience has taught me many things…

4 Things Learned in 4 Years of Blogging

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Radically Give Thanks in All Things

Thanksgiving, Bible quotes,

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”[1]

You know that Thanksgiving tradition of going around the dinner table asking each person for what he or she is most thankful?  One easy way for me to respond would be to say, “I’m thankful for my family.”  Simple and, perhaps, cliché – yet, this gratitude is so profoundly, undeniably, and unshakably true that I do feel compelled to say it aloud whenever situations allow.  May I write out right now: Thank You, God, for the awesome blessing of my family and friends!!!

Yes.  It is good to express gratitude out loud for good people and genuinely praise God for them.  But…

Radical Thanks

In the Bible verse that I quoted from St. Paul, it doesn’t say to give thanks for the nice things in your life.  It says to give thanks in all circumstances.  And this calls to my mind the words of Jesus, who reminded us that it is easy to love the people who love us – but what about the people who hate us?  Christ calls us to cast into the deep, to not be bound to what comes naturally to us as creatures of the flesh, but to transcend instinct and do what is supernatural, what is divine, responding in accordance to the spirit within us.

As we, then, are radically called to love our enemies, we are also radically called to give thanks in all circumstances.  Yup, all of them.  If we are in the midst of an unjust situation, then we are called to be thankful for the opportunity to practice virtue, to right a wrong, and to share God’s compassion.  If we are in the midst of grieving the death of a loved one, then we are called to be thankful for having known and loved this precious person, who is thankfully not lost, but alive in Christ for all eternity.

This gratitude doesn’t mean that we are called to be complacent.  We pray for the courage to change the things that we can… but we also pray for the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change.

One Big Thing That I Cannot Change

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Scripture Quotes on the Mind

Tree, earth, light, Creation

I left you (last week) with this thought:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2

I wondered how this might be the key to letting God love me – and the key, in so receiving Real Love, to authentically loving myself and others in my ultimate joy.  So… let me think… Continue reading

Scripture Quotes from the Heart

I’ve been trying to find a biblical quote to put on the wall of my bedroom.  In researching passages (focusing on the heart) I decided to share a few here with some reflections.  (This idea is inspired, in part, by my friend’s “Scription” at DonnaMaria.org.)

Heart, windowpane, cross

From Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

What do you treasure?

Would do you hold most dear?

For me, my treasure is my family.  According to this Scripture quote, therefore, I think that means that my heart, the core of who I am, is with my family.  My identity and my very being is intertwined with loving them and being loved by them in our interactions, our relationships.  If what I treasured was wealth or fame, then I would be caught up in money, possessions, and other people’s opinions, linking up my identity with them.  And I can see how that wouldn’t be good.  Either way, however… I see that I would be treasuring finite things. Continue reading

Art of My Heart: The Annunciation

Perhaps you, like I, have looked upon many artistic depictions of biblical scenes and have been left wanting.  Jesus’s hair is way too long and pretty, everyone’s garments are far too pink and blue, the buildings and courtyards are inordinately clean, etc., etc.  I’ve written on this subject before.  Loving beauty and truth, I want to be both aesthetically pleased and spiritually impacted.  Good religious art should cause me to be powerfully moved by the beauty and meaning of the piece, powerfully taken back to the moment depicted.  In other words, I want to be spiritually transported by the aesthetic image to feel myself present at a moment when Heaven touched Earth.

And so much art just doesn’t get that done for me.

There are exceptions, of course, and I have reflected on them from time to time in this blog.  One exceptional work of art has recently been purchased by me (in the form of a print bought through AllPosters.com) to hang on my bedroom wall.  (My awesome parents are helping me to mount and secure it as I write this.  So many blessings for which to be thankful!)

It’s a depiction of the Annunciation by Henry O. Tanner.

Before I show it to you, if you aren’t familiar with it already, a little on the traditional depictions of the Annunciation.  I do appreciate them, typically with symbolic touches, usually with the winged angel kneeling before the Virgin Mary, who looks humble, pious, and open to what she is hearing.  The work of Fra Angelico comes to mind:

Annunciation, Fra Angelico

(Check out a wonderfully informative video on this work and other frescoes by clicking HERE.)

But, the angel, Gabriel, is as usual, lavishly and heavily garbed and Mary is so very calm and serene.  And, for some reason, this doesn’t strike my heart.  In Fra Angelico’s work, the pair look like they are in some Italian portico, in others,, young Mary has a greatly receding hairline.  I am willing to look beyond the contemporary “fashion” details that an artist will add in keeping with his time – if, and only if, I am taken in by a look in the face, a gesture of a hand, a radiant light….  Too often, however, details not contemporary to Scripture get in the way of the heart of the matter.  And, so, the works don’t find their way to my heart.

The 1898 work by Henry Ossawa Tanner is the exception.  In it, Mary is real, vibrant in her attentiveness, in what seems a lively curiosity, as well as serenely open and willing.  She is on the edge of something, almost vibrating, yet perfectly still.  The Angel Gabriel is, well… alive, aflame, pure light, marvelously and wondrously a powerful messenger from God.  Now, that is an angel!

Without further ado, then, I present to you the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary and told her that she was to conceive the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit…

Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner

This man-made painting of the moment when the Divine pierced the temporal veil and awaited a young woman’s full acceptance and embrace of faith, embrace of God’s salvation… Well, this work of art does find my heart, deep within, striking the chord of truth and beauty that only a sublime and subtle glimpse of the Divine can.

Yes.

I say with Mary, Yes.

Read my  depiction of the Annunciation in words by reading my posts: A Stranger Appears in the Making of the Bread  and In the Cloud of Glory a Portal Opens

© 2017 Christina Chase

 

For the Feast of All Hallows: The Saint Maker

With All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints Day approaching, I’m sharing this reflection about, well, reflecting. For we are all called to reflect the Divine Light of Christ into the world…

Divine. Incarnate.

After I had chosen, intellectually, to become a Christian, but way before I had embraced Christ in my heart, a priest told me that I was a saint maker. And I was perplexed. He looked at me, thin and frail, all crippled and crumpled and stuck in my wheelchair, and seemed a little surprised that no one had ever told me that. Explaining, he said that people were drawn to be more generous, kinder, and gentler around me. He told me that I was a powerful help to others because of my disability. My vulnerability, my weakness and dependency, inspired people to step up and be better persons – to be more like the saints they were created to be. My response? Well… not being right in the heart yet, I said, “But, what about me?” Yup, that’s right. I wanted to know what was in this whole saint-making business…

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Respecting Death: an Odd Family Tradition

I’m a stickler for family traditions.  Therefore, as I told my doctor, my preferred way to die is of some kind of cardiac incident in a church.

That was how my maternal grandmother died – and how her mother died before her!  And both in the same little church of St. Henri in my mother’s French-Canadian hometown…

Their Death Stories

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