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Autobiography of a Small Haven

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I was born on Day 3 of the universe. (I don’t have a birth certificate but you can check Genesis 1:1-2:3 to verify). I watched as God lovingly drew all of my parts together: a crystalline lake, a cluster of trees, some lovely assorted pebbles, and my favorite part, a soft patch of cushy soil right in the center. That was my favorite part because I knew that if a human one day happened upon me, they could sit on my soil patch, be enclosed by my trees, and look out onto the lake. I was so excited when God whispered to me that one day, one of his loves would love him right in me. He told me that I would be a haven for someone, and his beauty made me beautiful. (I would tell you that I am the best, most perfectly picturesque spot on the whole lake, too, but his humility made me humble).

4.54 billion years into my existence (not that I was counting or anything), humans were a-bustling about my area. They were builders and farmers and laborers and soon enough, scholars. Suddenly, I was not just a pretty spot on a lake—I was a pretty spot on a lake named St. Joseph’s Lake at the University of Notre Dame. This made me feel very happy (a lot of other nature spots that I know never get that kind of upgrade). Meanwhile, God was lovingly ordering the universe as usual, and I was trying to be very patient. But the thing is, I really wanted to meet the girl that God had whispered to me about.

162 years flew by, and it was summertime, and then the girl came. She rounded the corner and sat on my soil-seat, and she was very quiet. I saw that she was scribbling feverishly in a notebook, and that God was delicately shaping her heart, blowing sparks into her soul and patiently waiting for them to catch. She was whispering fragments of prayer and murmurs of love, and God smiled at her, showing her the way that the sun could ripple peacefully over her whole view.  It was nice to have some company that differed from my usual friend group of small ants.

She left so soon, but God winked at me as if to say, “She’ll be back”. And she was, this time autumn, this time with tears twinkling down her face. She was crying because she said that everything was broken: her heart, her family, her future. I didn’t understand why she was so sad, because while she had her face buried in her hands, I could see God drawing her into his embrace, shaping everything around her just to bring her closer to him. She left me not realizing that God was not abandoning, but inviting. I tried to appear extra-beautiful, and extra-peaceful, just to make her stay, but God whispered to me that he was teaching her to love the hidden beauty now.

I didn’t see her for a while, but I heard from other rocks and trees around town that God was leading her into love: leading her to reading his favorite books, leading her to service, leading her to the mystery of the Eucharist. I also heard from a particularly observant shrub that she was living in brokenness, but coming to understand that only in brokenness could she ever be truly made whole. About a month ago, she came again. God whispered for me to look at her heart, and once I did I saw what he had accomplished. It appeared that her heart’s deepest desire had been uncovered, and now it was a leaf caught in the sunshine, illuminated with God’s infinite grace: she wanted to be the saint that God had created her to be, and the heading of her most current journal entry read, “Discernment…”. God showed me that ahead of her was a long road, filled with trial, weakness, heartbreak, but most of all, love.

The girl comes back often, sits on my cushy patch of soil, and prays softly to her Father. I know that she comes back often because she often forgets, and fails, and falters. But I see in her eyes and in her heart that anything short of the constant pressing onward to holiness, the unceasing search for goodness, truth, and beauty—anything short of that will no longer satisfy her. And me? Well, I keep going through the seasons, and I mostly just try to enjoy my humble existence as a six-square-foot picturesque spot on St. Joseph’s lake. And I think of the girl and smile to think of how each day, God helps her inch the tiniest bit closer to him.

Featured image: Morning mist on St. Joseph’s Lake, Matt Cashore 

Madeline Lewis

Madeline Lewis graduated from Notre Dame in 2017 after majoring in English and Theology. She currently lives in Oxford, Ohio, where she is pursuing an M.F.A. in Poetry from Miami University. She writes poetry about bakers, whales, and little plants, among other extraordinary ordinary things.