I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (v. 33)
The prophet sees a brand new day coming and offers good news. The Lord, he says, is inscribing something inside of us that will change our whole outlook on life. The same hands that formed us out of clay are, even now, writing on our hearts.
“Anything you write, even a journal, is at least implicitly somebody else’s business,” Thomas Merton journaled. He must have expected that somebody else would read his words. Some seventy-
odd years later, I did just that. Now I share them with you. Because what we write matters to God and mysteriously matters to others.
After my mother’s passing from Alzheimer’s last year, the various notes and letters that I’d written, which she’d saved for many years, were returned to me. I’d long since forgotten about them, but when I opened the envelope containing them, I found letters, poems, notes, and more—nearly all of which I recognized and read with an amalgam of interest, nostalgia, and disgust.
Reading this chronicle of my adolescent through college years, I felt embarrassed that they had been kept and, worse, read by someone. But in general, I recognized not only myself but my mother in her keeping of them and felt comforted and grateful to see (if only through a glass darkly) our bright relationship of love and trust.
I give thanks for my mom, knowing that while I gave her
grief a time or two, she nonetheless loved and claimed me wholeheartedly. And what are the words the Lord writes on our hearts? You are known, loved, forgiven, and precious, because you are mine. And I am yours.
If I were to write a letter to God, what would I most want to say? How would I begin?
“Write your blessed name, O Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from your love.” (Thomas à Kempis, c. 1380–1471)