A Holy Interruption

I like the idea that Rachael, my youngest daughter, attends a Christian college just twenty five minutes from our home. At nineteen years of age, she has her independence but still gets home quite often to do her laundry or just to hang out with the family.

Last Saturday afternoon, as she studied for an anatomy test at the kitchen table, I sat across from her, typing on a laptop computer. Working feverishly on an article that had a Monday morning deadline, my glasses kept falling down on my nose. As I pecked out paragraphs, the computer keys clicking, Rachael began memorizing the names of facial muscles, repeating each multi-syllabled term, out loud.

“Buccinator…it’s the muscle that makes the lips whistle” she said. Her eyes were fixed on a thick textbook entitled, Human Anatomy . Wearing an oversized school sweatshirt, her long hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

As I tried to concentrate on writing my article, she slurped coffee from a ceramic mug and kept reciting terms.

“Zygomaticus…the smiling muscle…” she called out while mimicking a pseudo grin. I kept right on typing. “Frontalis…it raises the eyebrows and wrinkles the forehead…” From the corner of my eye, I watched as she purposely furrowed her brow.

I turned off my computer. I was distracted. “Are you hungry for lunch?” I asked.

“Thanks mom…” she said without looking up from her book.

While I stood at the counter, fixing turkey sandwiches, Rachael continued studying anatomical diagrams on the pages before her. Then, suddenly, she turned and made eye contact with me, her face glowing with enlightenment.

“Mom…Come here and look at this drawing…” she said while pointing to a sketch of a human skull. I drew near, set her lunch on the table and glanced at the sketch. Though I had taken anatomy in college and was familiar with the sutures she spoke of, I found myself overcome with a new-found sense of wonder.

“The sutures look just like stitches…” Rachael said as she took a bite of her sandwich.

“You’re right.” I said, adjusting my glasses. Sure enough, the thin connective tissues that held together the bones of the skull had the appearance of thread. I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture.

Words from Psalm 139 whispered to me:

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!

My very self you knew, my bones were not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth (13-15).

As Rachael continued studying, I found myself thinking back on the months that I carried her in my womb. So many years ago, God had fashioned every part of her perfectly, a myriad of tiny muscles, tendons, and tissues that now enabled her to smile, whistle and wrinkle her brow. Before I even saw her, her little bones were being stitched together, the threads of God’s love, fastening her humanness, forever, to heaven.

“Mom…Will you help me memorize the neck bones? Rachael said as she handed me her textbook. She was completely unaware of the gratitude that was welling up inside of me. “You can read the names of the bones and I’ll tell you what their function is…” she added.

I turned off my computer. I could work on my article later. This was a holy interruption, a sacred moment to recall my daughter’s beginnings and to praise God for the person she was becoming, a woman who now understood the miraculous power of grace.

Today, if your children distract you, be sure to stop, look and listen. God may have something to say.

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  • eucharisted

    Do not read Scripture as a science textbook. It is not a science textbook but the written Word of God, the heart of which is the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

  • redwallabbey13

    In regard to the previous comment posted, I do not think Mrs. Sullivan was doing that at all but just in awe of that fact that God did ‘knit’ us together. I, as well, am touched when the facts of my life are confirmed by the faith of my life. These moments – especially when witnessed by/with/for our children are those moments of grace and holiness that enliven the dreariness of our days. Thanks for sharing, Nancy Jo, I’ll now go and enjoy some of my ‘little interruptions’ with a smile on my face.

  • Claire

    This was a very inspirational article. And also a good reminder to be ready to set aside our plans for God’s agenda via these holy interruptions.

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