In these Lenten days when we are thinking about wildness and wilderness, hear these words of Meister Eckhart [c. 1260- c. 1328]:
If I were alone in a desert
and feeling afraid,
I would want a child to be with me.
For then my fear would disappear
and I would be made strong.
This is what life in itself can do
because it is so noble, so full of pleasure
and so powerful.
A child. In the desert. When you are feeling scared, and maybe lost, and maybe hungry and thirsty. A child. Wouldn’t that make things worse?
Yet, with a child in hand, one must be careful not to appear afraid or worried, lest the child become concerned. With a child, the child must be kept occupied, keeping one’s mind off of the circumstances of fear. With a child, perhaps, there is exploring to be done, that leads to water or some kind of food. With a child, words of assurance may be spoken that impact not only the child, but the speaker. With a child.
In a situation where having a child present seems like a burden, a risk, making the situation even more fraught, Eckhart tells us that instead the fear is diffused, allayed. A child makes the situation easier to bear.
This is a beautiful expression of the wildness of mercy. Something that we might expect to add to a problem instead resolves it. Someone we would least expect to be helpful, comes to our rescue. Comfort and assurance provided by an unlikely source. You really do never know.
So, whatever we are going through, whatever is causing fear, dis- ease, worry, in our lives, well, maybe we need to look to someone more vulnerable than we are for the assurance and strength that we need. Because there is a wildness in mercy. And it may come from the last place we would expect.
Prayer: There are situations in life that are disturbing, that make us afraid, that cause stress and worry. Try to think about facing such a situation with a child. Maybe you have a child. Or a grandchild. What might you say? Imagine that you are a child and God, Divine Love, is offering you comfort and assurance. May we know the wildness of Divine mercy dispelling our fears and leading us to joy. Amen.