1As the season of Lent arrives, I am reminded of Ashley. Ashley was a child born three months prematurely and weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces at birth. During my intern year of seminary, I spent a large part of that Lenten season visiting her and her parents. Her mom was a nurse, and she continually was educating me about premature babies as we would gather for prayer and fellowship around Ashley's incubator.

I was fascinated with all of the monitors hooked to Ashley and what they all indicated regarding her health. The monitor that seemed to fascinate me most was the pulse monitor. Her pulse always seemed very high, but Ashley's mom reassured me it was OK.

One day, I came to visit Ashley and her mom. Her mom had the biggest smile on her face. She couldn't wait to tell me the news. That day she would get to touch Ashley for the first time since her birth. As the mom gently put one finger through the holes of the incubator, I thought about all the nurses that had used those same holes for so many months to deliver medicine and care for Ashley. This time, however, those holes would be used to deliver the touch and care of a parent.

As Ashley's mom began to stroke her child with just one finger, my eyes glanced at the pulse monitor. Ashley's pulse was slower and calmer. As soon as Ashley's mom removed her touch, Ashley's pulse went up again. The touch of a parent, even in an incubator, could calm a distressed child.

Many times I am reminded of that lesson when I begin to think about God being our parent. God reaches down to us, holds out his loving arms and surrounds us to calm us, to give us strength and peace.

Dear readers, when you are afraid, when the chaos of life overcomes you, I invite you to remember God does, indeed, reach out to us. I invite you to remember God holds us in his loving arms and brings us peace. God touches our hearts to remind us in him we can do all things and we need not be afraid because he is with us always.

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