As a teacher, I like to have “Morning Meetings” with my kiddos before we start our day. I usually lay out the day’s events, and then discuss a theme I want the kiddos to focus on for the day. One of the perks of working at a Catholic school is that I can pick a particular saint to highlight each day, and then direct our discussion on what we can learn from that saint and how we can emulate them.
This past year, when we got to the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28th), we had a lengthy discussion about his regrettable perception early on as a “Dumb Ox” and how, despite that reputation, he went on to become one of the greatest theologians in history. Later that day, during our weekly visit from one of the parish priests, the kiddos learned more about St. Thomas’ great devotion to the Lord. The father told the class the well-known story about St. Thomas and that toward the end of his life, he had a miraculous vision of Christ on the Cross while deep in prayer. During this time, St. Thomas saw all of his works he had written during his life. Referencing all that Thomas had done to grow the theological and philosophical riches of His Church, Christ addressed him saying, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward will you have?”
To which St. Thomas replied, Non Nisi Te, Domine” (“None other than you, Lord”).
I was profoundly moved by that story, but oddly intimidated by it as well. How did one achieve that level of devotion and intimacy with the Lord that they wanted nothing else than more of Him? At the time, I could have thought of a dozen rewards I would have asked the Lord for.
But as intimidated by that story as I was, I was also hugely envious. I wanted that depth of devotion; I longed for that level of intimacy with my Lord and savior. And that night, during my evening prayers, I prayed for precisely that – knowing that I had a long way to go before I could get there.
And then something interesting happened. The other night, while doing the dishes, I was talking with the Lord. I was telling Him about my day, asking for His help and guidance with particular situations, thanking Him for His provision and grace… and just genuinely sharing my thoughts, anxieties and hopes with him. I do this on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I literally spend my entire day communicating with the Lord, both mentally and verbally. I feel like I can’t breathe if I’m not sharing with Him. My relationship with Him has become so close, that I don’t want to go a single minute without sharing with Him.
And in the midst of this prayer, while praying for a particular petition I’d been making for months, if not years, it suddenly struck me… If God chose to deny me this heart’s desire… I would be okay. If He didn’t answer any of those prayers that I had previously deemed as critical to my happiness… it didn’t matter. Because right there, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than Him. More of His presence, more of His grace, more of His love. Nothing else mattered except for… Him. He had already so profoundly blessed me, and abundantly poured Himself into this crazy, amazing relationship with me. He was showing me things and speaking to me and directing me and just loving me… that I could not have asked for anything more wonderful than more of Him. And so I told Him. As I stood there in front of a sink full of dirty dishes and soapy hands I just said, “Lord, I just want you. I want more of you – in whatever way you want to reveal yourself onto me and walk with me – I just want more of this.”
And at that moment, I remembered. I remembered the story of St. Thomas and my long forgotten prayer. I remembered my longing and that incredulous petition.
So there I stood, utterly dumbfounded by His goodness and His love… That this crazy, mixed-up journey had brought me to this sink full of dirty dishes, an encounter with my Lord, and an amazing answer to prayer.
I could not ask for anything more.