While reading Pope Francis’ book, The Church of Mercy, I stopped in my tracks. He asks, “Do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord?” I wondered if I take time to be aware of God’s gaze upon me. Pope Francis continues, “God looks at us, and this is itself a way of praying.”
The Pope’s words led me to the following contemplation.
I picture myself before God, like a child self-dressed for school standing before a loving parent. “Just let me look at you,” the parent says.
I stand a little taller, enjoying that smiling gaze, knowing I am the center of attention. True, my outfit is mismatched, and there’s mud on my knee and a tear in my sleeve. But God overlooks all these things, seeing only with joy the beloved child who eagerly looks back into a loving face. “Turn around.”
I pirouette, allowing myself to be studied, and God smiles. I stand looking into that face, and Divine Mercy looks lovingly at me.
I have a drawing in my hand, and I offer it for God’s approval. I’ve made a picture of my life’s plan, with all its decisions and expectations. I’ve scribbled in where I will do this or that. I picture it like a hopeful kindergartener’s rudimentary artistic effort. God accepts it, looks at it, and laughs. “It’s beautiful.”
Again, I find God gazing upon me. And I return the gaze.
Suddenly worry sneaks in. I wonder if I am going to get my picture back. What if God shreds it?! I gaze at God, not saying a word, but the anxiety shows on my face, I am sure. I sense the Almighty saying, “Trust me.”
I relax a little, but I can tell I have not surrendered that drawing. Will God hang it on the heavenly refrigerator? Will God show it proudly to every visitor to the house? “Isn’t this precious?” I can imagine God saying, pointing to my picture.
I return to the image of God and me looking at one another. God stares at me a little longer with love. I find myself letting out a deep breath. I didn’t realize that I was holding on to it. I exhale loudly.
“Trust me,” God says, handing back my drawing. The Holy Spirit wrote something on it. What does it say?
I stay still, allowing my Creator, my Redeemer and Sanctifier to hold me in a long, loving look. And suddenly, I am ready to go to sleep, and this is OK with God. While I sleep, God will continue to look at me, like a parent smiling into the restful face of a babe who gently snores with complete surrender.
Still, God looks at me.
This is lovely. Found your piece when looking for a quote I heard a monk use one time at a retreat. Is this idea of gazing uniquely Ignatian?
Wow. This is so exciting. In the year of mercy, I hope every prisoner remembers that God looks at each of them with abundant love and sees beauty.
Muchas gracias, y que tenga un buen dia!
A group of us Catholic women who volunteer at the Woman’s Federal Prison near our city, shared this prayer with some of the Catholic ladies, and the prayer speaks right to their hearts and spirits of these inmates. We hope to use it in Spanish also.
Thank you for the gift of this prayer
Loretta, thanks for sharing your imagery and thoughts. When God looks at me, I know He sees a little child, looking back at Him in awe and wonder, holding on to my security blanky, trusting that I can let go because He is going to make everything work out fine!
That trust you experience is such a grace!
Thanks for writing. It helps me go deeper into the meditation as I return to it again and again.
I love the imagery in this, and the positive image of God as a loving parent. The part where God takes your picture of your life’s plan, accepts it, looks at it and laughs reminds me of something my former pastor used to say, “Man plans and God laughs.” He meant it in a good way, with the same message as at the end of your reflection – that we have to trust in God. This is a beautiful piece.
Thanks, Diane, for the vignette from your pastor! It is a perfect fit.
Thank you for illustrating the concept of the child of God so beautifully. So glad i started my day with this reflection!
I loved this – what a wonderful way to pray! I could feel a sense of security growing as I read further and further into the reflection. And I also wonder what the Holy Spirit wrote on the drawing.
This is wonderful. I know what God wrote on my picture and it’s a true gift. I needed to see it. Thank you.
I’m so happy to hear that this meditation was fruitful for you! I hope you will continue to look at what the Holy Spirit wrote on your picture and cherish that message.
(the Holy Spirit put a happy face on mine! lol)
Exhaling the breath is an excellent metaphor for trusting in God’s mercy. I wonder what the Holy Spirit wrote on the drawing? Thank you for a lovely reflection.
I wish I had this kind of imagination. Very hard for me to picture God looking at me with this kind of attention…except for the times I’ve screwed up. Then I really feel the glare.
Thank you for sharing your point of view. The Bible is full of images of a loving God, and I hope you are able to focus on those, letting go of the idea that God would ever glare at you. Because God so loved YOU that God sent the only son, Jesus, and that love is what God is all about. I am praying for you to discover a God who looks at you and smiles