My wife and I were so blessed to take most of July and visit our children, who happen to take residence in three of the four corners of this great country of ours. After completing this monthly adventure, one of my blessings received was to contemplate these wonderful vacations and the wonders that God has created and given to our country and family.
The awesome blessings received during this grand excursion really hit home at a meeting attended the week after arriving home, held with the Labor Day high school Freshman retreat formation team at our parish church. The Religious Ed director began a contemplative prayer exercise with the high school retreat leaders and adult mentors. He played his favorite gospel song on his guitar and sang as we all, sitting before God’s presence in the tabernacle in church, contemplated God’s manifestation in our lives.
In my reflection, the Holy Spirit gave me a great and unique vision of the overall true beauty of our visit. I had already given this trip “The America the Beautiful” moniker. We traveled from sea to shining sea. Visiting my oldest son in Philadelphia, we traveled to the New Jersey shore to witness the Atlantic seashore. Visiting our oldest Daughter in Los Angeles, we waded into the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. In Seattle, where my youngest son lives, we walked up the trail a little less than half way up Mt. Rainier – the purple mountains majesty.
This contemplation exercise next sent my travels experience to an all higher realm. I felt myself soaring above us, looking at our adventures from a 10,000 feet vantage point. I was shown how Jesus and His angels were wherever we went, making each encounter not only holy, but beautiful – the good and the bad; the successes and the struggles.
I was shown all the geographic sights and wonders God laid before us – the hand of God was there, and they were beautiful. I was shown the joy of the trip when we and Cathy’s sister and her husband visited and enjoyed our Dairy Queen ice cream confections – Jesus and His angels were there and was not just tasty, but beautiful. I was shown the sorrow of my oldest daughter dealing with the aftermath of a recent miscarriage – Jesus and His angels were all surrounding her and, even in her sorrow, through Jesus’ presence, it was beautiful. I was shown our family and grandson running through the waves on the beach – Jesus and His angels were there, and it was beautiful. I was shone our youngest son and us walking up and staring at this beautiful mountain – and even more beautiful was Jesus and His angels walking with us.
The biggest surprise of this vision that the Holy Spirit blessed me with was the beauty of suffering. We tend to see and personalize our own suffering. We see/feel the pain, inconvenience, trauma and personal problems that must be lived though. I have never, ever seen suffering as beautiful. I have never contemplated how surrounded in holiness we become as we are surrounded by Jesus and His angels. Revelation 5:8 Talks about the gold bowl of incense holding prayers of the holy ones presented to God. I saw my daughter’s suffering raise up as a passionate prayer that was the incense filling one of those golden bowls in Heaven presented to God. I have never experienced a vision so beautiful as that prayerful incense being carried up by the angels surrounding us and her.
If God is with us, how could it not be beautiful? There are so many people that I know and pray for that are suffering greatly, either physically, emotionally or both. With suffering, God brings beauty because each sufferer now has an army of celestial beings attending to them. We also see the manifestation of Spiritual sanctification and growth that suffering brings to the sufferer, family and community surrounding them as well. We have God’s splendor all around us, but we need Faith and the graces from the Holy Spirit to truly see God’s holy beauty. Join me to experience the joy the Lord has showered us in our normal daily lives and especially in our suffering! Whether we know it or not, every second our prayerful incense is being taken up by our angels to God. It does not get any better than that! Amen!