June 14, 2017: Who are you?

~by Louis Templeman


A beloved member of my family lay dying in the hospital. All of us who orbited around her kept a firm grip on denial of the obvious. I was not the least delusional. Yet, like the rest, I hoped for a miracle. The intense dynamics of grief would soon test the strength of my severely dysfunctional family.

Two days before her death the Holy Spirit engaged me in a meditation that pushed the envelope of my limited experience in contemplative prayer.

I was on a 4’ ladder painting windows and I sensed it was a good idea to offer my imagination to God. I tried to offer him a blank page, so to speak. Quickly I felt like I was standing before my Heavenly Father. And, I knew he wanted me to ask him who he was. Now, no words were being exchanged. I was simply following the course of my offered-up imagination.

”Who are you?” I asked.

“I am”, he answered.

Then he said to me. “And, who are you?”

I felt a bit tense, as if this were a test or even a trick question. I wanted to answer well. Soon, I decided I could not impress God with my answers so I decided to satisfy myself. I asked myself, who am I really? I thought of some teaching from Brennan Manning, Richard Rohr, and Henri Nouwen who I’d been studying. Eventually I decided on heartfelt simplicity.

“I am Daddy’s child,” I answered.

Silence followed. I sensed strength in my thoughts. Having no instruction I repeated the exchange.

“Who are you?”

“I am. And, who are you?”

“I am Daddy’s child.”

And, so it went. “Who are you?”

“I am. And, who are you?”

“I am Daddy’s child.”

Eventually I realized I was using God’s name to tell him who I was. I am Daddy’s child. After repeating this many, many times I heard this.

“Who are you?”

“I am. And, who are you?”

“I am Daddy’s child.”

“I love to hear you say my name.”

“I am Daddy’s child?” I answered.

“Yes. We share my name. It is our family name.”

Over and over for hours as I was able in my work-a-day world as a painter I kept up this contemplation. For two days it was intense. Most of the contemplation took place during work hours. Then the center of our world died. And, my precious, troubled family melted down. Extreme toxic levels of drunkenness, anger, swearing and toilet hugging sickness ensued. Much of what was said was forgotten the next day. However, I was not intoxicated and the rejection and cursing I endured was seared, tattooed in my memory.

Down, down, down I felt my self-esteem spiral. Gloom and near despair lifted ramparts to attack the weakened citadel of my faith. Until I remembered my two days of prayer and contemplation.

“And, who are you?”

“I am Daddy’s child.”

The darkness said I was a lousy brother, a horrible husband, a weak father but the light said my identity was not defined by association with a grieving accuser, but I am defined as Daddy’s child.

No matter how true an accusation may be or how powerful and clever a false accusation may be we must remember it is the devil who is the accuser.

All God expects of us is to come to him as children. In true spiritual reality none of us is any better than the other. By nature we are all children of wrath. However, by God’s call and glory we can come to him as children and receive cleansing and new life.

Our self-image must be conformed to the truth that we are our Daddy’s child. That is how we must define ourselves. God prepared me to withstand a devilish assault during a difficult time of grief. He set up a shield of love and comfort to protect me from slander and accusation. He, in fact, pulled me into his lap.

The Little Flower once wrote, “Don’t drag yourself any longer to his feet, follow that first impulse that draws you into his arms. That is where your place is.”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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