I’ve always had trouble with God. You can’t see him, can’t hear him. Is there really a God out there and is he really concerned about me? I’d heard about God from practically Day One, learned the routine prayers, was baptized and made my First Communion. But like the atheist in the foxhole, I never actually said a personal word to God until my first roller coaster ride. As a tiny little thing at age 12 I flew up in the air as the roller coaster made its first down-dip. “God!” I cried. Even then I recognized it as my first real prayer.

In high school, despite my pitiful allowance, I would part with a precious dime to buy a Sunday Visitor at church each week. To this day I remember Dale Francis as being my favorite columnist. The things of God interested me but I would never have said we had a personal relationship. The saints, especially, were a problem. It seemed they were always talking to God and he to them. It seemed they knew him up close and personal.

I, on the other hand, sounded like the psalmist when I prayed: “God, where are you? Why don’t you answer? I cry out to you all day long and you are silent. Why have you abandoned me?”

That was then. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two. Each of us has a different walk with God. With some he pours on the Spirit early and they flame up like Cherries Jubilee,, already a saint like Joan of Arc when she died in a blaze of glory at 29. Others are on the back burner, like a soup du feu. It cooks for days or for years, with a little something added every now and then, getting more flavorful as it mellows. It is apparent I am one of those back burner soups, not yet quite done but hopefully getting better. Looking back I think that if I knew 50 years ago what I know now, I would have been a better wife, better mother, better daughter-in-law, better friend. But we do our best with the insights we have.

There was a time in my early 50s when I toyed with the idea of writing an article titled, The View from the Hill. I wanted to talk about the perspective that comes with having reached the hilltop in my life — the things one sees more clearly, the children grown, the grandchildren coming, the generation-to-generation thing. The time has passed for the hilltop view. My thoughts are now more those of one on the home stretch, approaching the finish line. I’ve already outlived the average female lifespan, but if I live as long as my mother I still have another ten years!

I remember when my mother commented that she would never be needing another pair of galoshes. (Remember galoshes?) Now I find myself thinking I will not need any more of this or that in my lifetime. A lifetime is seeming very much like a finite thing with a definite and upcoming end. This is a time not only of perspective but of remembering, of piecing together the picture, getting glimpses of THE PLAN. What’s it all about, Alfie?

A curate at church told us, “Jesus is coming soon; better look busy.” I’m wondering if this writing is what I’m supposed to be busy doing at this moment. I’m wondering if I’ve done what God had in mind for my fourscore and five. I have thanked God time and time again for the simple faith that resulted in seven children. Common sense would not have recommended having them in my financial situation. But they came, each one more beautiful than the last, and they are now grown and making their own families. In extraordinary ways, over the years, Jehovah Jirah, the God who provides, has provided.

I can’t say that I had much in the way of trust. “In God I Trust” was NOT my motto. It was, rather, obedience that gave me my children. In my day, Catholics were generous in providing children for the kingdom of God. Every act of intercourse was supposed to be open to the transmission of life. If you didn’t want children, just abstain from sex !

Rhythm was the rather primitive method of family planning at the time. In the past few decades Natural Family Planning has come so far it seems to me the Church should be shouting about it from the housetops. How clever of God to arrange for such a reasonable and natural way to space children when it seems prudent! Breastfeeding was another of God’s ways of spacing children, so mine were just about two years apart.

I am so glad that my childbearing years were during this era. In the natural course of things, children just happened. I was spared the enormous burden of choice. How much easier to leave the choosing to God! The longer I live the more clear it is to me that the best gift one can give to a child is a brother or sister. Would I have provided these blessings for my chldren had I had the options of abortion and contraception? I sincerely hope so.

Dear Lord, we are fearfully wonderfully made. Let us seek to learn how to live by studying what you have done and what you have said. In your plan, children will have a mother and a father to care for them and role model for them. In your plan, people will not have sexually transmitted diseases because they will not have been messing around. In your plan, children will have the best possible milk provided by the same mother who nourished them before birth. In your plan our actions will spring from love. Your plan seeks what is best for your people. Help us to really see that.

When we say, “Thy will be done,” we are saying we want your plan in our lives. In retrospect, I see you had one all along. Thank you, Lord.