FARGO — Recently, I wrote an article about prison ministry in which the chaplain shared this question she extends to the incarcerated she serves: “How can I help you heal?”

A few days later, a moment of healing came to me. Perhaps it had been in the works for a while. Healing seems to work that way. It can take months, years, a lifetime. But one day, something clicks, and we find ourselves freed.

It started at the grocery store, where I’d gone with our youngest two sons, 14 and 17. I’d planned to go alone, but in a last-minute burst of enthusiasm, my boys, who look more like men these days, jumped into the car with me.

“Can I drive?” our youngest asked. Having his permit and needing to log in more driving miles probably helped motivate, but I was delighted to have them along, like in those younger years when they walked on either side of me, each tightly grasping my fingers.

“Meet you back here when we’re done,” I said, once inside, as they headed for their favorite aisle. Later, back at our starting point, they seemed oblivious to my presence. Walking a few paces behind, I just watched them interact, and for a moment, felt transported both back in time and into the future.

As they talked and laughed like brothers do, I saw the coveted object of acquisition: a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal. And in this very ordinary, sweet moment, life stood still.

The next day, traveling to my niece’s baby shower, I popped in a Christmas CD of our youngest daughter’s college Christmas concert from 2018. I was hearing the concert in recorded form for the first time, a year later. As “Cradle Hymn” by Kim Andre Arnesen played, something hidden within me opened.


The music wooed me to a barrage of memories from the past year, back to when our lives had begun imploding with crises. But as the melody continued, the visual of that moment in the store with my two “little” boys reappeared. Blending with the softness of the song, it all washed over me like sunlight streams after a cloudy day. Thoughts of our hardships blended into soothing notes of hope, prompting healing tears.

In that, I sensed God’s gracious hand sprinkling my soul with his purifying love. For God is the Great Healer and sets out like the prison minister — only more perfectly yet — with a yearning to heal. Then, he watches and waits.

Knowing us so well, God works with our humanity, reviving our memory and awakening our conscience – to a certain phrase, a string of well-placed notes, the image of two boys meandering through the store with a package of Crunch Berries in hand.

The holy is everywhere, and in this season especially, God beckons us to draw near to experience his healing, life-giving love. Will we, like Mary of Nazareth, say yes?