Every year, I go on a week-long retreat. For me, where I go on retreat is not as important as what I bring—my Bible and journal, plus a desire to grow closer to God and an openness to hear God’s word.

Last week, I went to a retreat center just south of Toledo, Ohio, which sits on a small lake.

I spent one day of my retreat reflecting on the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-47), which led me to remember all the people who visited me when Jim was sick and since he died. I tried to recall each person who selflessly supported us, and I lifted them up in prayer. I am so grateful for the generosity shown to us by so many people.

When I met with my spiritual director the next morning, I talked about the people who have been so significant to me over the past few years and how blessed I am by friends and family. She asked me if my image of God had been impacted by the abundant generosity I had received from friends and family. Where was God in the mix of my friends? Did I think of God as a friend?

These were interesting questions for me. I think of God as being abundant love and forgiveness, as accepting me as I am and wanting what is best for me. But, do I think of God as a friend?

I was pondering these questions as I walked along the lake that day. The water was very calm and the sky filled with bright white clouds.

At one point, the sun broke through the clouds, and the lake became a mirror image of the trees along the shore and the clouds in the sky. So sharp was the reflection that I thought if I took a picture, it would be nearly impossible to tell which way to hold the photo.

Two sides of the same reality, one the physical world of trees and sky, and the other a clear reflection.

Is that how I see God? I wondered. Reflected through the abundant generosity of family and friends? Or do I see my family and friends reflected through the abundant generosity of God?

I am not sure which way it goes, or if it matters to me. I do know that the generosity of my family and friends has helped me draw nearer to God, to trust God more and to believe that God blesses me in more ways than I can ever ask or imagine.


6 thoughts on “Reflection

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Deb, you are one of those people I am so grateful for; I remember the day Jim got sick and how you went to the house and found Detroit there–confirming something was really wrong.

  1. Anne Hansen

    Madeline your essay was beautiful. Thank you. I continue to read you thoughts and journals with great interest. You are a special person with the gift to be able to share your thoughts and inspire those of us who are fortunate to read them.

  2. Maria Strauman

    Madeline, so true. Although my heart is broken with Fran gone, so many people have surrounded me with love and support. People with whom I’ve had only a passing acquaintance have listened to me and offered their comfort. I have to believe that our loving God has much to do with this.

  3. Madeline Bialecki

    Maria, We are so blessed to have the eyes of faith so that we can see all the ways our God comes to us. Especially during this Advent season, I reflect on how generous God is, how generous people are. I hope each listening ear and comforting embrace helps heal your broken heart. If you don’t know Felicia at SJC, I highly recommend meeting her–she is a healing hugger and is one of the best consolers I have ever met.


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