On the feast of St. John Vianney (August 4), the priests of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain celebrated a virtual day of recollection. There was a video presentation by Archbishop Socrates Buenaventura Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Philippines. He reflected on the meaning of our priesthood in COVID-19 times.
Creatively, he used the image of a baby resting on its mother’s breast to describe the interior life of the priest – a call to listen to the heartbeat of Jesus. Wow! What an intimate, intriguing and interesting metaphor!
I woke up with this metaphor still glued to my memory. Immediately, I engaged this image in visio-divina asking, “How is God speaking to me in a deeper way through this image?”
Sadly, I have no memory of myself as a baby resting on my parents’ breast. But I have had babies resting on my breast, so I kick start my imagination. I vividly imagine the baby’s ear pressing gently on the crevice of the chest, transfixed by the rhythm of the heart beating like a drummer. “Isn’t this sound familiar?” “Where have I heard this sound before?” “I remember hearing this pulsating sound no so long ago in a much warmer, secure and watery environment.” “This drumming sound creates a chill throughout my body. It’s relaxing and comforting. I feel like moving to its tempo.”
How about the warm feel of the skin! It’s like a blanket protecting me from the morning cold. I feel secure. I feel protected. I don’t wish to become detached.
I also feel a unique odour rising like mist from a geo-thermal pool and seeking no permission to enter my tiny nostril. Each day this precise smell visits me. We become friends. I know who it is by the smell.
My eyes, struggling to open, see a strangely shaped body. A funny image like a tree softly encircling me and strategically positioning me at the exact spot to hear that familiar pulsating sound, experience the overwhelming smell, and feel the warmth of the body.
Each morning my hungry soul awakes and cries out like the Psalmist, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord” (Ps.130:1). Like a parent, ready and waiting, God places me on his chest to hear the word of his heartbeats.