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JAMES BEHRENS: While we grasp for God, He holds us in His hand

Father Matt gave a homily this past Labor Day about creation and the labor of God. It was a beautiful homily in which he mentioned the six days of labor when God created the universe and all that is in it, and then how He rested on the seventh day.

My thoughts took off in several directions as he was speaking. I mused over the word "labor" and I thought of the stories my mom used to tell me about her giving birth. She gave birth to seven babies.

Over the years, I have heard my sisters tell of their ordeals with bringing their babies into the world. For my mom and my sisters, it was a time of great joy and expectation -- as it was for my dad and my sisters' husbands.

But for a woman, the delivery of a baby is intimately personal, unique and profoundly beautiful. It can also be painful, and a time filled with anxiety.

It is said that we are made in God's image. I cannot think of any activity closer to the creative genius of God than the gestation of and giving birth to a baby, or babies. Giving birth is a sharing in the very life and identity of the Divine.

Even the labor intensive activity that brings forth life is of God -- God struggles and cries as life comes into this world. God lives in all creatures -- God is the source of life as well as its every manifestation.

An infant's first vague sense of tenderness is his or her first feeding. It is the first sense that all of this is a gift -- the fruit of the labors of others.

We come from the labor of God and are sustained by it all through our lives. We are at our best when we labor to give life and well-being to others, especially to those who are born into circumstances of hardship, or deprivation.

There are times when we are most God-like when we are least conscious of it. It may be good to bear that in mind when so much of our ideas about God have to do with chasing Him with thoughts, theories, mental gymnastics of one type or another.

We assume that if we have the right thinking about God, we have Him in our grasp. But all the while, God has us in His -- in the palm of His hand.

I was a twin and when we were born, I arrived first. My mom used to tell me that she had no idea that she was carrying twins. After I arrived, the doctor knew that my brother was not far behind. He told mom that there was another baby and that he needed her help.

When she heard that there was another baby, she passed out. My brother arrived from her body into this world with a wail and the helping hands of the doctor.

Mom eventually awoke with two baby boys at her breasts. And God was awake all the time, in her and in us and in the doctor -- who all did the divine thing bringing God to life and bringing life to God.

It is all a mystery, rich and ongoing with wails and cries of joy. How wondrous, this God who lives within us.

Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212 SW, Conyers. His e-mail address is james@trappist.net.