As I watched a father the other day playing with his toddler-aged son, I was mesmerized. Every time the son would bring him some small trinket, the father would gawk, ooh and ah with an over-exaggerated excitement. Each time the dad would do this, the boy would grow more frantically enthusiastic and bring new treasures — leaves, sticks, a rock, a used styrofoam cup — to his dad. Again, the father would explode with joy and the child would giggle with abandon. This repetitive game was reenacted maybe a dozen times before they fell to the ground together, then packed up and headed out.
I sat for a while after they had gone and thought with deep emotion about my own childhood, my own children and how all of this relates to how I see God. I recalled two quotes I used to use when I taught a parish adult education series on prayer. Both are simple, yet profound. The first is by 4th century theologian, St. Gregory Nazianzen. The second was spoken to me by an elderly priest I used to visit every day in the nursing home during the summer of 1990. I would come to his room every morning at 5:30 a.m. so he could celebrate Mass with me before I went to work.
God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests.
You know Tom, God talks to me. And do you know the first thing He says to me every morning when I wake up and say my first words to Him? “I missed speaking with you while you slept.” Isn’t that wonderful?