Betty Duffy wrote recently about a tiny baby in a Tupperware coffin and I have been thinking about my two miscarried babies, buried next to the homes we were renting at the time. One would be celebrating his fifth birthday around now -- I was due on the 17th of December -- and one would be almost 14.
After the first loss, our priest came over for the burial and then came back a few days later to celebrate Mass in our home. I have never felt more loved than I did that night, when so many people came to be with us that we could not even fit them all in our living room.
The priest had asked me if I would say something brief after his reflection on the gospel, and I did not know if I could manage it. It was my first up-close encounter with a painful truth: sometimes you pray faithfully and wholeheartedly for something good, and the sovereign Lord God says no. I had implored him to keep my baby safe; instead her little body was cold in the ground below my dining room window. And I knew that it was an opportunity to grow in trust and faithfulness, and I knew that God had good plans for us, but right in that moment I did not want to do any growing and I was not very interested in plans for the future. I only wanted my baby.
I stood up in front of our friends and I said, I believe that God is sovereign, and I believe that he purifies us through our suffering. But, I said, I'd never thought about the purifying from the perspective of the ore, the hunk of rock that says to the refiner, "What are you doing with that dross? That's part of me."
Moses was amazed when he saw that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. How much more amazing that God has chosen us for a dwelling place, that the flame of the Holy Spirit can shine forth from us to bring warmth and light into the world. Though it burns away our impurities, we will not be consumed. He says, "I am Lord over the heartbreak, and I am the Refiner whose fire transforms ore -- rock with potential -- into a beautiful and enduring precious metal." Cleanse me.
who appeared to Moses in a red glow of flame,
and who gave him the law on Sinai,
come to redeem us with outstretched arm.