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Searching for God’s love?

You can find it in simplicity

I met Richard over ten years ago. He lives in a county nursing home. Richard has spent most of his adult life there, passing his days from bed to wheelchair. Most afternoons he can be found in his wheelchair near a big window in the hall near his room. Richard loves to spend the day looking out at the beautiful grounds of the home in which he lives and is cared for. He admires the trees and flowers, the beautiful sunshine, the birds and animals that can often be found flying or scurrying about outdoors. Just ask him and he’ll tell you all that and much more – in a way that is uniquely his own.

Richard has a very severe form of cerebral palsy. He has never been able to walk and most spoken language is beyond his ability. Even so, Richard has a great deal to say. Somewhere along the way, someone devised an ingenious means of communication for Richard that relies on simple pictures and words arranged on a small board to which Richard can point. Pointing out words or pictures in succession, Richard crafts beautiful sentences. Having a conversation with him is a little frustrating at first because he has so much to say in so few words. Yet with time, patience and practice, it becomes quite easy and enjoyable to sit and chat with Richard. He has friends, foods he likes and dislikes, things that he’d like to do and one guiding truth in his life.

As we visited one afternoon, our conversation took a turn toward topics of faith and belief. Before I could even ask what Richard had on his mind, he carefully pointed out the pictures for ‘God,’ ‘loves,’ ‘Richard.’  He paused for a moment, looking at me to make sure I understood what he had said, and then continued, pointing out ‘Richard,’ ‘loves,’ ‘God.’ There it was – the most fundamental truth of his life: God loves Richard and Richard loves God.

In a life with few of the advantages that we can so easily take for granted, Richard is thoroughly convinced of God’s love and care for him, and it is clear that Richard has a deep and abiding love for God. Richard’s heart, simple and pure, is open to God’s pure love for him. I have no doubt that when his time comes, Richard will indeed see God face to face.

This month we ponder the sixth beatitude: Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. While many of us sometimes tend to make the search for assurance of God’s love for us into a dizzyingly complex quest, someone like Richard can peel away all the layers of theological complexity and get to the heart of the matter – in Richard’s case, with three simple words.

God’s love for us can be reflected in the very simple things of life. A dedicated teacher, like Miss Margaret Muir, whose life spans three centuries, and whose teaching career extended from 1914 to 1966, can often be a reminder of God’s constant love and care for us.

A child is a flesh-and-blood reminder of a couple’s love for one another. A child is also an embodiment of God’s love for mother and father, for us all. Natural family planning has been used by many couples to bring wanted and loved children into the world.

Being born with Down Syndrome hasn’t deterred Ronnie Knapp from a fulfilling and active life. From working at McDonald’s, to competing in Special Olympics and running his own successful deejay business, Ronnie never forgets the source of the many blessings in his life. He is also a blessing in the lives of many. To paraphrase Richard: God loves us. We love God. And so our journey in FAITH continues.