8 Little Arrows in my Quiver

Reflections and Ramblings of a Happily Harried Mom of Many

How Shall I Make a Return to the Lord? November 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 3:44 pm

As I was flipping through my Magnificat prayer-book, trying to find today’s Morning Prayer, a poem that was printed after yesterday’s Mass caught my eye, so I decided to read it.  I never made it to the page for Morning Prayer.  The poem was called “Eve,” by Madeleine L’Engle.  I had never seen it before, and found myself profoundly moved by it, so much that I wanted to share it.


When we left the garden we knew that it would be forever.

The new world we entered was dark and strange. Nights were cold.

We lay together for warmth, and because we were afraid

of the unnamed animals, and of the others; we had never

known about the giants, and angels gone wild. We had not been told

of dwarves and elves; they teased us; we hid whenever they played.


Adam held me.  When my belly grew taut and began to swell

I didn’t know what was happening.  I thought it was the beginning

of death, the very first death.  I clung to Adam and cried.

As I grew bigger something within me moved. One day I fell

and the pains started. A true angel came and pushed the grinning

creatures back. Adam helped. There was a tearing. I thought I’d died.


Instead, from within me came a tiny thing, a new creature,

red-faced, bellowing, mouth groping for my breast.

This was not death, but birth, and joy came to my heart again.

This was the first-born child.  How I did laugh and sing!

But from this birth came death. He never gave me any rest.

And then he killed his brother. Oh, my child. Oh, my son Cain.


I watched from then on over every birth,

seeing in each babe cruelty ready to kill compassion.

For centuries the pattern did not change.  Birth always meant death.

Each manchild who was born upon the longing earth

in gratefulness and joy brought me only a fresh ration

of tears. I had let hate into the world with that first breath.


Yet something made me hope. Each baby born

brought me hurrying, bringing, as in the old tales, a gift

looking – for what? I went to every slum and cave and palace

seeking the mothers, thinking that at least I could warn

their hearts. Thus perhaps the balance might shift

and kindness and concern replace self-will and malice.


So I was waiting at that extraordinary intersection

of Eternity and Time when David’s son (Adam’s, too)

was born.  I watched the Incarnate at his mother’s breast

making, by his humble, holy birth the one possible correction

of all that I by disobedience had done.  I knelt and saw new

Adam, and I cried, “My son!” and came at last to rest.

I read and re-read the poem, trying to process my strong  response to it, and suddenly realized that I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude — for the Saviour who made, “by his humble, holy birth the one possible correction of all that I by disobedience had done.”  A refrain from an old song popped into my head: “What return can I make to the Lord for the good He has done for me?”   I found myself longing to try to give something back, to do something to show the Lord how grateful I am for His incredible gift.

I googled the song refrain and discovered that it was based on Psalm 116:12. “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?”  In reading the following verses, I found the answer to the question: 

The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord; my vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all His people. … O Lord, I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; You have loosed my bonds.  To You will I offer sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.  (Psalm 116: 13-14, 16-17 NAB)

There’s no better response to God’s gift of salvation than to turn to Him in gratitude, and seek to serve Him in all we do.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me such a beautiful focus as we begin this holy season of Advent!




2 Responses to “How Shall I Make a Return to the Lord?”

  1. I once knew a priest who used to say:
    “The whole of our Catholic Faith can be reduced to two simple words… Venite adoramus.”

    I have recently come to know of God’s extraordinary grace for me, and I find myself stuggling to find what small return I csn make to the Lord. Like all other things I shall never be able to make sufficient return.

    Thanks for sharing this poem!

  2. Jenny Perry Says:

    Only the Lord Jesus Himself would ask that in order to show our gratitude for what He’s done for us we would receive, take. “They that receive the abundance of Grace and of the gift of Righteousness shall reign in life by One Jesus Christ.” (Rom.5: 17) this is beautiful, Colleen, and encourages us to trust in His Character by freely receiving what He has freely given!! Your life is certainly an example of this:)

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