In the last part of my previous post I brought up how it is only a child because of his or her innocence that can be given the privilege to truly share in Jesus' death. Jesus is referred to as the "Lamb of God" knowing that in the Jewish culture lambs that had no blemishes were used as sacrificial offerings. I have noted that God has been showing us that He was preparing us, as He always does because of His endless mercy. I want to share one of these experiences.
I was convicted a few years ago that our family would not celebrate Halloween, we would celebrate All Saints Day. I wanted to bring back the traditional forms of celebrating this beautiful holiday that somehow over time evolved into celebrating the side of darkness. Anyways...Stella, I thought was a little too young to understand and desire to dress up like a saint and since she has a deep love for animals I suggested she be a lamb - like "the Lamb of God." Her eyes lit up with excitememnt and without a moment of hesitation exclaimed, "Yes! I can be Jesus' lamb and Johnny (her brother) can be the shepherd!" So our first real celebration of All Saints Day was decided. Stella would be a lamb. The story doesn't stop here. She wanted her two cousins, Mariana and Grace to be lambs too. So in 2009 I made three little lamb costumes and one shepherd costume. They were the cutest flock of sheep you ever saw.
Within the first couple of weeks after Stella went home, my sister-in-law Monica, the mother of Mariana and Grace, found on her answering machine the message from Stella from over a year and half ago. On the machine in her precious child's voice she asks, "Mariana, Grace will you be a lamb like me?" There are no such things as coincidences and there is no time with God. There have been several confirmations of this very idea of my Stella being a pure sacrificial lamb.
So now as parents many of us in our family are using this to incorporate the becoming of a lamb with our other children. We ask, when for example, sharing does not want to take place, "Are you being a lamb like Stella, like Jesus right now?" It is a real concept for them because they know concretely and personally who Stella is - their sister, cousin, friend.
And I cannot expect my other children to respond to this question correctly if I myself cannot answer it correctly as well. When I am stuck in a moment of grief, thinking of how MY life has changed, how MY heart is broken, and how MY daughter was taken, I stop and ask myself, "Am I being a lamb right now like my Stella, like my Jesus?" And in some selfish moments I think, "No, I'm not and frankly I don't care. It hurts too much." But then grace kicks in and helps me refocus on the giving of myself and suffering for others and the much greater good. And just like my Stella was given an innocent death like our Lord she on the other hand received a GLORIOUS resurrection as well and a marvelous crown of new life. People were often very drawn to Stella and some of it was because she has these beautiful ringlet curls. So I think now how she went from curls to a crown.
And I recall a part I read in the book I've mentioned about Mary. I noticed as I was reading, that Mary prior to Jesus' birth, according to the mystics, never asked God for anything for herself. However, when she became a mother things changed a little. It was time for Jesus' circumcision. She was struggling with this because she didn't want him to suffer any pain. So she asked God that he wouldn't feel any pain "for her heart's sake". Do you know what the answer was? The holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel replied, "...This will be the beginning of His sufferings in obedience to His Father's Will..." This says to me that from the first moment of our existence, from the first moment of our child's existence, they are to serve in the purpose of our Creator. So any suffering even our child endures is to help them in the practice of obedience to our God. And even in our questioning and pain we must remember two things - First and foremost that GOD IS LOVE. And contrary to our cultural beliefs, obedience is NOT an act of imprisonment, but an act of freedom.
My daughter lives fully now in Love and Freedom. And I am sure there is no other place even I as her mother could have shown and given her that could ever had made her feel as safe and joyful as she does there. And as I now know, heaven is truly only a veil away. And this deeply agonizing way I long for my Stella, is how Jesus longs for each one of His children - you and me. Poor, sweet Jesus how he must hurt. For as no one can fill the place in my heart that belongs to my little saint, no one can fill the places in Jesus' heart that belongs to each one of us. And like two puzzle pieces link perfectly together, so does our soul and the specific place that is only ours in our Lord's heart. It is our real home. And just as Saint Augustine said, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee."