And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. ~ Matthew 3:17

Our son Ro and I drove down to Albuquerque before Christmas to pick up his sister Andie who was flying in from Sacramento. The four-hour drive which threads through the barren high desert and many indigenous reservations brought back many fond family memories for me.

Every year after the rush of the Christmas Season, Jennifer and I along with the kids would take off for Duke City for a couple of days of rest and relaxation. The highlight of our vacation was going to a University of New Mexico Lobos basketball game. Over sixteen thousand screaming, fanatical fans would cram into the historic Pit to cheer on their beloved Lobos. The noise decibels at the games often exceeded most rock concerts. The kids loved it and so did I. I am not so sure about Jennifer.

For two days, we lived the high life. We stayed at a decent hotel, watched movies, and ate pizza and gourmet hamburgers. We splurged on snacks at the Lobo game. I particularly remember one year. The kids had popcorn, pop, Skittles, Red Hots, Milk Duds, and hot dogs. “Help yourself,” Jennifer and I told them.

Maybe all the sugar and junk food were not the image Saint Catherine of Siena had in mind when she said, “All the way to heaven is heaven.” But it was heaven for our kids at that time. We collected our treasure and the cashier started ringing up all our purchases. “Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching.” This is going to be costly I thought.

The young cashier said, “Forty-six dollars, Sir.” I handed her my Visa. “I’m sorry,” she said. “We only take cash.” “What?” I asked. “Cash only,” she said while pointing at a sign. “Did you just put up that sign?” I asked. “No,” she said. “Cash only.” I looked at our kids who were drooling thinking about their candy. This was not good; mutiny was a real possibility.

“Hurry up,” the next guy in line said. “The game’s about to start.” “How much cash do you have?” the checker asked. I opened my wallet. “$5,” I said. “You can have a medium drink or a package of Skittles. Take your pick.” “Um… we’ll take the drink.”

The kids started mumbling. “What happened Dad?” “Are we going to get any snacks?” “We’re going to starve to death!” “We will eat after the game, and you are not going to starve to death! Besides, we can share this pop between the five of us.” “That’s gross.” Luckily, the game was great, the kids were forgiving, and no one starved to death.

The rabbit hole of memories made the trip to Albuquerque fast and before I knew it, I pulled into passenger pick-up at the Sunport International Airport. Andie was waiting. “Do you want to grab lunch?” “Yes,” the kids said. I was confident. I had cash and a credit card.

After lunch, we checked into the hotel, and we had a couple of hours to burn before the big Lobo game that night. It had been years since we had attended a game together. The three of us were excited. “What do you want to do?” I asked. Andie was tired from her early morning flight, so she took a nap.

Ro said, “That brewery across the street looks pretty good. I wouldn’t mind a little pre-game.” “O.K.,” I said. Gone were the days of cotton candy and cherry flavored Coke. Our adult children did not jump into the pool the minute we checked in to the hotel. They did not even go swimming. We were together though.

Ro and I enjoyed “pre-game” and returned to our room. Andie was sleeping in one bed, so Ro and I plopped down on the remaining queen bed. “Ro, are you O.K. sharing a bed with me tonight? We could get a roll-away.”

“This is fine,” Ro said. My twenty-six-year-old son rolled over and snuggled into me like he did as a little boy. I wrapped my arms around him and held him lovingly and securely. He is all grown up but he’s still my beloved son and always will be.

No matter how old we are, don’t we just want to be held peacefully with tenderness? To know that we are loved, forgiven, and cherished?

When we leave the innocence of childhood, what happens when our lives fall through the cracks? What happens when we fail? What happens when our dreams shatter? What happens when we come face to face with the human condition asks Brennan Manning in his book Abba’s Child.

Are we still beloved children of God? Forgiven and restored? “Or does God love us only in our goodness and not in our poverty and brokenness?” asks Manning.

“Who am I?” asked Thomas Merton. “I am the one loved by Christ.” When the Black Death was sweeping through England (1348-1350), Julian of Norwich wrote, “We are God’s bliss, for God delights in us without end, and so… will we delight in God.”

Henri Nouwen wrote a letter to a close friend, says Manning. Nouwen said, “All I want to say to you is you are the Beloved, and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold.”

I held Ro closer to me. Is there any gift greater than knowing we are beloved children?

That night, our beloved daughter bought our tickets to the game. It was her way of saying thanks, and she bought the snacks. Andie did not want to take any chances.

Who are we? What is our true essence? We are all beloved children of God, forgiven and restored by Grace. May we hold each other in this Truth.

Blessings and peace,


Posted in Meditations.