Several years ago when I left the parish where I was Pastoral Associate to enter a new ministry, a woman in the parish gave me a prayer shawl. Women in the parish made shawls to give to those who were ill, who had lost a loved one or who needed extra care. I had given away these beautiful shawls as had others telling those who received them that God’s love enfolded them, the person who made the shawl was thinking of them and the prayers of the parish community were with them.
“Sister,” she told me, “this is for you for your time of prayer.” In the last days especially I remember God’s love as I wear the shawl during prayer. Our days here in Milwaukee have been especially cold and the shawl has kept me physically warm in the morning. Further, as I reflected on events in life, the shawl’s warmth reminds me that God’s love ever enfolds me regardless of questions, missteps or misunderstandings.
Often in the midst of our days involving life transitions, particular times of fullness, journeying with those who are ill or dying, supporting family with a new-born or through job transitions, we need special warmth and reassurance. Throughout history women and men have prayed to be open to God’s guidance in times of need. Jesus knew he needed God’s guidance as the gospel of Luke (1:1-4; 4:14-21) from the Christian scriptures tell us: “He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.”
Jesus grew in understanding that the divine remained with him as he responded to the events and situations he met everyday. He embraced the divine warmth as he remained open to following his path in life. “He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” not his own power rather the power of the divine within.
In the language of the church year, we are in ordinary time. Yet, often in the winter months of our lives our encounters are anything but ordinary as we sit wrapped in the warmth of God’s love ever open to the power of the Spirit who can do more than we can ask for or imagine.
Blessings and peace.