God Is My All

by Deirdre Burch

Deirdre wrote this meditation while serving as a public health nurse in a village in northern Saskatchewan. Catherine Doherty shared it with the MH staff saying, “I have never seen so much depth, so much understanding of our Little Mandate* as the one that is now in your hands.”

***

Arise, go, sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up my cross (their cross) and follow me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with me.

My sister was dying. You called me, Lord, to go to this village as soon as she was buried and the family comforted.

You promised to comfort me, in time. And you did—personally, and by my avocation as a nurse. In my going out to comfort and care for your little ones, the Indian and Metis, my own heart was also healed. We healed each other.

***

Little, be always little—simple, poor, childlike.

As one travels to La Loche, the immensity and wilderness of Canada is brought home vividly. One goes 50 to 60 miles without seeing a house—just trees that get shorter and an endless bumpy road (now much improved).

Lord, I am so little in this land. Without you, I would surely die. I look at this vast expanse of trees and snow and I wonder: is there any life here?

No birds are in sight, except the occasional raven. There is no ground vegetation, but plenty of jack pine, birch, poplar … and seeming endless wilderness.

Yet trappers and Indians inhabit this land, have explored it and made use of your provisions—game and fish, berries and roots—to remain alive. The wonder of it strikes my heart afresh.

Spring and summer come and the world is transformed. Wild flowers, berries, flowers, shrubs, lichens, ferns and green grass all spring up and come to life. Birds arrive and begin to sing. Squirrels and other animals wake up from their long hibernation and their tracks can be seen.

The joy of finding the first strawberry, saskatoon, blueberry lightens the heart.

Seeing roses and flowering bushes bloom is reassuring.

Lord, sometimes this life is like a wilderness. My soul often feels empty, arid. Yet at other times you make it bloom and feel alive. When we die and rise again with you, what beautiful beings are you going to transform us into?

***

Preach the Gospel with your lifewithout compromise.

Listen to the Spirit, he will lead you.

The gospel message, Lord, is that you love me, died for me, have redeemed me, opened the gates of heaven for me, and continue to guide and care for me on a daily basis. If you do this for me, then surely I must love and care for all I meet?

Sometimes, Lord, this isn’t easy. Maybe it is a person who gets under my skin, and it’s hard to be pleasant with him or her. Perhaps it is an abusive alcoholic, a smart-alecky young teenager, a yelling baby.

But, Lord, you love me even when I am like all these people. Whatever we do to the least of the brethren, we do to you.

May I always see your face in them, nurse and tend them as if it were you. And, Lord, in loving them, may they see you in me!

***

Do little things exceedingly well for love of me.

When I look after your sick people, I try to be compassionate, loving, tending their wounds the best I can, trying not to hurt them. For the times when I am sloppy, Lord, have mercy on me.

***

Love, love, love … never counting the cost.

When a man, woman or teenager comes in drunk, vomits or spits all over the floor or shakes the blood from their injuries all over the place, and me—Lord, help me to still love them.

When I feel really lonely and ready to quit, especially when I am tired, Lord, help me to remember I am here to serve. Love serves.

***

Go into the market place and stay with me. Pray. Fast. Pray always. Fast.

The market place is always noisy. Confusion seems to reign. But a moment taken to give a smile or greet a person makes everything seem to stop, suspended for a moment of time.

When I remember that I receive you daily in Holy Communion and you are in my heart, you transform that smile to act as a healing balm to another person’s wounded heart.

Just being there to represent you can be a source of peace to the confused. Fasting and prayer can move mountains and change hearts because you are so generous, Lord. You are always near to talk to, even when you seem far away.

***

Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbor’s feet. Go without fear into the depths of men’s hearts. I shall be with you.

Lord, why am I up here? Should I be doing something more spectacular to witness for you? I have to go on faith that my everyday work as a nurse and as a person—this doing your will in obedience and love—is of value and will help to save souls.

The children who come to play in my trailer—should I try to catechize them? Or is it sufficient to amuse and enjoy them, to listen to and love them, to read to them and play with them, to be available to them so that in my loving them, they will love you, Lord. Suffer the little children to come unto me (Mt 19:14).

You are with me, Lord, and go before me, so that when men are drinking, abusive and violent, I can go up to them, and by talking to them, calm them down. Usually they respond like meek children, all the noise gone out of them.

Other times just talking about you to a distraught person brings peace and calm, because, Lord, you are the Healer and the Peacemaker.

***

Pray always. I will be your rest.

Praying is the raising up of the heart and mind to you, Lord. I am getting to know you more and more and delight in your company.

Whether I sit at your feet in the chapel, or walk with you in the bush, or talk to you in the stillness of the night—you uphold me and renew me and give me strength to carry on day by day.

I love you, Lord, and I don’t know what I would do without you. I would surely die. You are my all. My heart melts in your hand and thrills to the sound of your voice. You ravish my soul and I glow in your presence.

I am lost without you. There are times when you are lost to my sensibilities, yet I know you are there … and that knowledge sustains me.

Lord, I am too little for you to go far away from me. In truth my heart yearns for you like the doe for running water, like the bride for her bridegroom. Never be too far from me, Lord, and if you seem far away, let me remember your walking and talking with me so that I may not despair.

Thank you, Lord, for being you … and for loving me.

From Restoration, January 1989

*Little Mandate: Words God gave to Catherine Doherty, words through which he gave her the spirituality of Madonna House