This next editorial cycle focuses on the theme of hiddenness. Specifically, “Hidden in the Cleft, the Rock, the Heart.” The central idea at the heart of this theme came about during a discussion about the struggles of feeling hidden or secluded from the familiar, comfortable parts of our life. We so often view hiddenness in a negative context. We hide the parts of our life we don’t want to share with others. We hide our wounds, our fears, our brokenness, sometimes even from ourselves.
But being hidden in God is a place of safety. A place where we can be alone, at peace, at one with Him. The first twelve (and the next twenty) years of Our Lord’s life are a hidden time. Some of that was spent hiding in Egypt, but all of it was spent in communion with the Holy Family, in active preparation for the mission for which He came into the world.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 23:37, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” In Song of Songs (2:14), we hear, “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely.” We see hiddenness in a positive sense all around us. When the sun hides, we get a break from the heat and the work of the day. Tiny creatures hide beneath a rock to rest out of sight from predators. A seed is hidden under the earth until the time comes for it to break forth and bear fruit and beauty. Little birds are hidden in the nest until they’re ready to fly.
The little Lord Jesus spent His childhood hidden in His mother’s arms, receiving her gentle care. The God of the Universe was nurtured and fed by Mary’s love. He witnessed St. Joseph’s love for his wife, his diligent work, and his readiness to serve in whatever way God called him to, from one moment to the next.
To be hidden with God is to retreat into God, to let Him work in us in a deeper, more intimate way. This hiddenness requires our willingness to rest within His Heart, to remain with Him, to abide in Him.
God hides His best work before He brings it to completion. Like a gardener growing a precious flower, He guards it from the elements that could snap off its tiny buds, chew through its leaves, and burrow holes through its roots.
It’s humbling to remember that I am one of His most precious little flowers. We all are. And in those moments when I feel cut off, separated from others because of the good work He is doing in my life—it’s in those moments that He’s intensely preparing me. He is growing me into the little flower that will best proclaim His goodness, beauty, and joy through the gifts He has given me.
Our Lord recently showed me that I was once a small flower growing joyfully in a sunny meadow among other joyful little flowers both like and unlike me, dancing in a summer breeze. But one day, He scooped me up, carefully gathering my roots, so that He could replant me on the slopes of a snowy mountain. He planted me just right, so that a rock shielded me from the worst of the snow and battering winds. The sun was not too harsh. The soil was rockier than I was accustomed to, but it had all the nutrients I needed to grow in a climate I was unaccustomed to. While I remained very little in the midst of that winter, He provided for my every need.
When springtime finally came upon that mountain slope, I didn’t look like the same little flower. I’d grown through things I hadn’t imagined such a small flower could survive. I’d endured a winter I thought would never end. But I was clinging to the rock more firmly than I’d ever done before. I was clinging to Him who hid me, sheltered me, cared for me through the darkness and frosty chill of winter.
The trouble I often run into is my own lack of trust. God has always provided for my needs in abundance (though those needs often contradict my wants). But I don’t always trust Him to provide that shelter, to be that refuge, to bring warmth and sunlight after the winter snows. The spiritual life requires a continual return to childlike dependence on God. Or, rather, the childlike dependence revealed to us by God. The God who became so small, so utterly dependent upon Mary and Joseph, whose littleness broke the chill of winter, broke the hearts of broken humanity, shattered the cycle of sin and despair, and marked the dawn of Christian hope.
Our souls are the lamps filled with the oil of this hope. Our Lord prepares these lamps quietly, shaping them in the piercing cold of winter, forming them amid all the darkness and trials of their lives, firing them in the tender blast of the furnace of His Heart. And when they are ready to become the lamps He made them to be, He sets His very own fire to burn within them. No longer hidden, we become ablaze with His light to set others on fire with that love.
So let us learn to rest now in the hidden places of our lives, where God is doing something new in us. Let us retreat and rest in our own littleness, learning how He wants us to grow, keeping the littleness of the Child Jesus as our model and guide. And let us learn to be at peace with His gentle, gradual work so that one day, so Hidden in our identity of being His, we may run wherever He sends us, to pour out the radiance of His light to others.