Jim S., a frequent commenter on this blog, is also the proprietor of Today Gospel Insights, which you can visit here. Last night he sent this meditation to a few friends, and agreed to let me share it on the blog.

“Suzanne and I have been exceptionally fortunate to be in our parish’s book study of In God’s Presence, by Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki. Suchocki’s book deals with prayer, if you are not familiar with it. I have been particularly interested in her descriptions (and our leader, Charlotte Rogers’) about coming into the Presence.

This afternoon, I was finishing Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, and encountered her essay entitled “Baby.” Following is a section that describes what happened after her son, Sam, equipped with an ineffective — and pink [!] — wetsuit was to be escorted by one of the tour guides to a small cove where seals were playing:

Click below to read the excerpt.

I swam ahead of Sam and Rafael to where everyone else was, looking back once or twice to locate the two of them in the water near the boat. My heart was so happy for Sam. Seals swam up quite close to me and barked and were properly silly, as they are paid to be, and it was goofy and sweet, and I bobbed along with the other people for a while and then tried to locate Sam in the water. I scanned the sea, looking for a little guy in a bright pink wet suit, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. inally I realized that this tiny blue bundle back on the tailgate of the boat was my boy. And I knew it hadn’t worked, that he hadn’t been big enough to make the swim after all.

I swam back. I was panting with the effort of swimming against the tide, and I realized it would have been terribly

difficult for me to maneuver Sam back to the boat by myself. But my heart felt broken for him, and my mask got

all fogged up. I climbed back on board and sat down beside him. He was wrapped in a blue towel. Someone had brought him a Coke and some tortilla chips. It turned out that he had started getting hypothermic a minute or two after getting in the water, and Rafael had brought him back to the boat. Sam was grievously disappointed but was being very brave. I was desperate to fix him, fix the situation, make everything happy again, and then I remembered this basic religious principle that God isn’t there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence, so I prayed for the health simply to enter into Sam’s disappointment and keep him

company. And it was about one moment later that the extraordinary happened: Dozens of seals started swimming up to us.

“Ahhh!” Sam cried, as the first seal bobbed a few feet away, and this time his cry was one of total amazement. And then another seal emerged a few feet away, right next to the first one, and they bobbed near each other, looking right at us with their moist doggy compassion. Sam started laughing, and I felt the moment go from cramped to very spacious. Sam cried out with laughter. The seals’ heads looked like old men’s bald pates that you anted to pat. As they bobbed up and down in the water, hiding from us, then emerging gain, I shook my fist at them and called out, “Hey – what d’ya think you a r e a couple a omedians?” They kept swimming up to us for the next fifteen minutes, popping up out of he water like furry lightbulbs of a good idea.

Sometimes I think we are given things like this out of God’s tremendous Grace, and I anted to share it with you.

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