Naming Grace

Crossing to the other side

The first night away from his parents was turbulent for 16-month-old Johnny, with wave after wave of pleading for “Mama,” “Dada.” Rocking, standing, swaying, patting and humming had no affect on him. Desperate for relief, I prayed over and over: “Please, Lord, help Johnny sleep.” Finally, during the fourth watch of the night, Johnny succumbed to exhaustion, and we each managed a few hours rest. In the morning, Johnny returned to his sweet nature by smiling, giggling and repeating, “Mimi.” I was thankful Jesus had crossed us to the other side of daybreak.

This Sunday’s readings are all about crossing to the other side of any experience or event in our lives. When being jostled in a battered boat, some people choose to forge ahead on their own, some cry out only when waves swell and begin crashing over them, while others remain calm, knowing Jesus will somehow get them to the other side. We choose whether or not to invite Jesus into the boat through prayer—and that makes all the difference between facing a situation with fear or peace. We either drown in anger and bitterness or walk on water with energy and joy. It’s up to us as Jesus promises courage, if we have faith.

Evenings are particularly rough with a sick infant, as we toss and turn out of fear for our child. We pause, invite Jesus in, and have faith the fever will break and we’ll get to the other side of health.

Just getting through the day with a busy preschooler warrants our call on Jesus. We invite Jesus in, and soon we see the world through our child’s eyes: the joy of spotting a butterfly, the pleasure of tasting blueberries, the energy of running through a sprinkler. Worn out from the morning’s activities, our toddler finds rest at the other side of naptime.

Nights with teenagers can be trying for even the most trusting parent. We invite Jesus in and have faith our son or daughter will call if needing a ride from the party to the other side of home.

As parents/grandparents, we name grace—God’s redeeming presence—each time we steal away to listen to God through the tiny whispers in our hearts. We name grace—God’s saving presence—each time we invite Jesus into our boat. We model faith in Jesus each time we demonstrate peace and joy in the midst of getting to the other side.

A man dealing with a degenerative disease invites Jesus into his boat and finds joy by appreciating the ability to rock his granddaughter and read books to his grandson.

A women working in a less than ideal job invites Jesus into her boat and serves customers with a smile while continuing to pursue a degree.

An elderly woman dying of cancer invites Jesus into her boat and makes the most of each moment by blessing family and friends until she crosses to the other side.

Nights often come crashing in on us with worry; many men and women consume sleeping medication at night in an attempt to drown out their fear. Yet, today’s Gospel gives us the remedy to all of our tossing and turning on a stormy night—to spend a few minutes listening to the tiny whispering sound of our Lord, who says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” If Jesus sends us out to the other side, we can be assured he, the Son of God, will stretch out his hand to save us, and our loved ones, in the middle of a storm. Now, that’s good news!

When have you tossed and turned in the storm of worry?

When have you invited Jesus into your boat?