Elise Italiano Ureneck writes:
To say that we can identify God in all circumstances means that we are willing to look for his providence in both joy and sorrow.
The past five years of my own life have been a pressure cooker. In that span of time, my mother was diagnosed with a devastating terminal illness. I met and married my husband, we welcomed our first son, we buried my mother and three weeks after her death, I gave birth to my second son.
It was easy to find God at my wedding Mass and reception; nothing really drives home the idea that heaven will be like a wedding feast quite like your own wedding feast….
I felt God’s presence in the most intimate way at my sons’ births. Even though it can be argued that an individual human life is a statistical anomaly or chance occurrence, any new parent knows from the earliest moments of their children’s lives that they have been in the mind of God for all eternity.
If you’ve ever traced your child’s fingerprints with your own index finger, you see a map that leads back to a loving God.
Finding God in my mother’s slow paralysis and suffocation was not as easy. I often look back on her illness with great horror. Flannery O’Connor once said after an encounter with a young girl disfigured by cancer that illness is “grotesque.”
Recognizing that God is at work in death, estrangement or loss of any kind takes a special disposition. It’s a posture of searching beyond first glance, sometimes patiently for years on end.
The place I continue to search is a crucifix in my parents’ home that my mother gazed on from her recliner. Each time I visit my father I look to it, trusting that the God who loved my mother into life gave her a death like his son’s.