Last Thursday I left off my tale at the point where my over-due daughter-in-law and I had just spent a marvelous day at Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Padova, Italy) but had no clear memory of how to retrace our steps to find our car, wherever it had been parked on some side street with a name we couldn’t recall.
Truly, I attempt to practice the advice to “pray without ceasing,” but normally there are many lapses. Not so this late afternoon! “Which way, Lord? Ah, I remember that shop. Now what? Which way did you say? Down there? Oh, yes, that patch of grass looks familiar. Thank you. Oooo… I don’t remember anything here…” About then Grace would remember something, and together the three of us (Grace and I, led by the Holy Spirit) slowly made our way back to the car. Thank you, Father! Grace was super tired but still not having contractions, so we drove through quite a thunderstorm the forty miles back to Vincenza, where we were greeted by our family and this rain-drenched rose. We stopped briefly on our way home to buy some herbal teas and other homeopathic medicines the midwife suggested to stimulate contractions, and I picked up a tiramisu to thank the home team for letting us be gone all day. The night passed quietly, but just as we were getting ready to leave for church Sunday morning, Grace’s water broke, and eventually (with the help of two midwives and a lot of hard labor), their new baby was born at home. So, welcome to the family, Baby Marius Rive! His first name is in honor of the character, Marius Pontmercy, who is saved by Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and later marries Valjean’s daughter. Grace had just finished reading the book and felt that Marius was going to carry on his father-in-law’s legacy of grace and forgiveness. “Rive” is an ancient french word that means “river bank,” and Michael and Grace put the two names together as a blessing and prayer that Marius Rive will be like a river bank to channel God’s grace and forgiveness to others. Isn’t that beautiful?
(Mary E. Maxwell, 1900, Public Domain;
This song is a great favorite of our family)
- How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.
Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous pow’r
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.
- Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around,
To tell out Thy full salvation,
All Thy loving message sound.
- Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no pow’r but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.
- Witnessing Thy pow’r to save me,
Setting free from self and sin;
Thou who bought me to possess me,
In Thy fullness, Lord, come in.
- Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know,
That the streams of living water
From our inner man may flow.
“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” (Isaiah 41:17-19)
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”