Snuggle in

I hate it when my children are sick:  when their normally endless energy is replaced by a whimpering lethargy. When their bleary eyes can muster no enthusiasm for treats or excursions. When I know they are suffering and there’s nothing I can do to make it better.

Except for snuggles. Oh, how I love to snuggle my daughters when they’re sick!

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com
Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

I love to snuggle them anytime, of course, but toddlers are squirmy and busy and generally disinclined to sit in one place for any amount of time. But when they’re sick they come willingly, imploringly for snuggles. They bury their faces in my shoulder and wrap their arms and legs around me, as if physical contact will somehow cool their feverish limbs. They doze and cuddle and listen to lullabies.

And my heart swells with love.

I hate it when they’re sick … But I cherish those sick snuggles more than they will ever know.

That thought gives me pause to consider my relationship with God. Like many people, I tend to seek God out far more fervently when I am in need of comfort than when everything is copacetic. The most difficult times in my life have corresponded, un-coincidentally, with the times in which I have felt closest to God.

I’ve always felt guilty about that.

Why am I able to find the time to sit in silence and listen for God’s word when my spirit is sick, but not when all is well?  Shouldn’t I spend as much time thanking God in the land of milk and honey as I spend asking for deliverance from the desert?

Acutely aware of this spiritual weakness, my prayers during those troubled times often begin with an apology:  “God, I know I’ve been neglecting you, and I’m sorry I don’t spend as much time with you as I should … But I really need you right now.”

I feel compelled to confess my devotional failures before I venture toward God in supplication–as though my prayers are less valid because they are made under duress …. or as though God will be less inclined to comfort me because I have not sufficiently nurtured our relationship.

But if my experience as a mom is even remotely indicative of the love that God has for us as children, then this is not how God cares for the afflicted.

When my daughters approach me with runny noses and sore throats, seeking sympathy and comfort, I don’t ask them, “Where was this affection when I was taking you to the park or coloring with you?!”  I simply gather them into my arms and treasure them.

I want only for them to snuggle in and abide in my love.

So the next time I find myself in need of spiritual comfort, I’ll try to remember that God cherishes any opportunity to lavish me with love. I’ll breathe in the divine essence that surrounds me, knowing that God, too, is breathing me in with an infinite tenderness – a tenderness of which I’ve only had a glimpse in this life, while snuggling my sick children.

Nicole Steele Wooldridge is a friend of Sister Julia’s and mom to a three-year-old and one-year-old. She writes from the Seattle, Washington, area, where the flu season apparently started early this year.

the time of children

Guest Blogger: Sarah Hennessey

When Herod realized he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:  A loud voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children and she would not be consoled since they were no more.  Matt 2:15 -18

Our Christmas feast is a time of children. For a few short days, the laws of logic are suspended and the whole world conspires to make the innocent dreams of children come true. This year in her Santa letter, my niece asked for real fairy wings that fly and fairy dust that she could use whenever she wanted. Our faces become softer by candlelight and love is tangible.

Today we celebrate the feast of children – but of the holy innocents, the martyrs caught by a tyrant’s rage. I almost feel we should remember this feast daily because in our world the holy innocents are countless and the carnage staggering.

AIDS, malaria, war, hunger, child slavery, child labor, abuse, neglect. The very fabric of our global reality often leaves the most innocent the most vulnerable. 

Disappearing Daughters: Women Pregnant With Girls Pressured Into Abortions
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The Christmas season is the feast of the child:  the miracle of God made flesh at the point of utter and total despair on human love.  This Feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us not only of the love and the protection of the children we hold most dear; but we must also weave the fabric of justice in the world to protect the dignity of every child.  To forget this is to deny the holy spirit of Christmas.