Jesus kept his promise. During my eight-day retreat, he showed himself to me as I prayed with biblical stories and imagined myself as Hannah, the woman by the well, a child playing with Jesus, and the apostle Peter.
“When you pray, ask for the grace to receive an interior knowledge of God’s faithfulness and care for you,” Sylvester, the spiritual director, suggested at one of our daily meetings.
Pride nudged me. “You mean a deeper knowledge than I already have,” I said.
He smiled. “Each time we are given a grace, it’s a new gift.”
The story of Hannah and how God answered her prayer to bear a child reminded me of times in my life when God used adversity to bring forth life. I felt grateful that God remembered me like he did her.
But in my prayers, the Spirit didn’t just want to remind me of things, the Spirit wanted to listen. Being assured of God’s faithfulness and care enabled my soul to speak frankly.
When the woman at the well saw Jesus as just one more person without a bucket who wanted something from her, I realized I felt that way sometimes too. In another prayer, I pictured Jesus with the children and was invited to be one of them. I sobbed, “I don’t want to be a child. It’s not safe; adults can’t be trusted.” Later in the week, I shared Peter’s anguish that, despite my best intentions, I hadn’t kept my promises to God.
As each thought was voiced, the Spirit seemed to say, “I know. I know.”
The Trinity tenderly responded to my confessions of prejudice, fear and failure as each story unfolded in my imagination. At the well, Jesus revealed himself to me as the Messiah and gave me living water. When I asked him where I would find this water, he showed me the seemingly bucketless people in my life. Despite appearances, they have much to offer me. Living water flows in them, and I was encouraged to drink deeply.
After I watched Jesus with the children, the Trinity crouched down and made the frightened child in me an offer: What if we adopt you? Then I saw God in the faces of women who have loved me like a mother, and men who have cared for me like a father.
And when the rooster crowed, Jesus looked right at me and loved me the same way he always does: without a shred of disappointment in his eyes. These moments were new gifts indeed. They blessed my soul and set it free.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” —John 14:18