When I graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1998, my parents gave me a trip to Israel as a graduation gift. It was amazing. I saw the places I’d studied, walked the roads that Jesus walked. Jerusalem was beautiful, rich with history, filled with the wonder of God and the story of humanity.
My friend Margaret and I took a walking tour that led us along the Wailing Wall, underground, close to the “Holy of Holies” where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Temple. We were told that where we stood was closer to the Temple Scrolls than where the men outside stood, near the Wailing Wall. I could feel God’s presence in the place, an old, cobbled tunnel, dark and worn from centuries of hands and feet passing by.
I sat on a common white lawn chair in that tunnel, with my hand against the Wailing Wall and prayed. My heart to God. That he’d bless me with a partner for this life. That my parents would someday see their grandchildren. That I my family would be safe and healthy. And thanksgiving for the blessing of this life.
We left that tunnel, I left Israel, and only thought about that moment every so often.
Fast forward to twelve years in the future. I had become a retreat leader at San Damiano, and found a special friend and mentor in Father Rusty there. We led retreats together, he gave me more books than I can count about Franciscan theology. His teaching picked up where my learning at Yale had left off. And in September that year, he led a pilgrimage to Israel.
And in September of that year, Sean and I had our son. I was in labor for 56 hours. I was in the hospital for a week, and our son was in the NICU for six days. It was the hardest time of my life. During the labor, I remembered the words of the song “Candle on the Water” from my childhood, encouraging me on, like God’s ongoing blessing on the event. “Though you’re lost and drifting, know the clouds are lifting, don’t give up, you have somewhere to turn…”
We chose the name Zachary for our little boy, we spent hours picking it out. I loved that his name, from Zachariah, was in the old and new testament. Zachary means “The Lord Remembers,” and I liked that too, the idea that the Lord would always remember my little boy.
The day we took Zack home, I got an email from my friend, Father Rusty, from Israel. He said that on Friday, they had been in Jersualem and he’d said a prayer for me and Sean and the baby at the Wailing Wall. That he’d prayed for our health, for the baby’s safe arrival. And that he hoped we were all well.
Tears filled my eyes. That Friday was the very day Zachary was born. Father Rusty had said that prayer for us at the Wailing Wall the very day that Zack was born.
And then the enormity of the event hit me. Zachary. His name means “The Lord Remembers.” It all made sense. And oh, how He remembered. The Lord had remembered that prayer from me, over twelve years ago, at the Wailing Wall. He had heard my prayer, had let it cure in me, and had found a way to send me a sign that indeed, The Lord Remembered. With my parents around me, little Zachary in my arms, I could not help but be overwhelmed by a God who cares, remembers, and of the wonders of our lives.