The following is a reflection by Sister Martha Buser, OSU
Noah is a two-year-old. He is my great-great-nephew, and he has a lot of wisdom, as apparently some children do. They express it in wonderful ways and are most often oblivious to what they know, until later, when they find out what they said. I was reflecting about something that he said some time ago. Noah enjoyed and still enjoys not wearing clothes. He did and still does take off his clothes. One time, his mother, Erin, walked into the family room to find a previously clothed Noah with no clothes on. She asked him where his clothes were and he said, “I naked.” Well, she laughed as she thought about how funny that was that he should say he’s naked.
I started thinking about it because when I looked at him, he was naked, though he had on just his cowboy boots. So, what did he mean when he said I’m naked? I don’t know if he knew the definition of naked, so I thought about it. I reflected on what his childish wisdom knew about being naked. One thing that came to mind about being naked was not having anything on that would shield you from people’s glances or looks. What would Noah be hiding or what would he not be hiding if he’s naked?
Then, I thought about the rest of us. We don’t like to be naked. We want to be dressed up and have nice clothes on. But if we are naked, in the sense I think Noah means, we are free because in many ways clothes hold us back. They keep us separated from others, but if I’m naked I am not separated.
To be spiritually naked then, means I can’t have anything between me and God except our love. So, if I can say “I’m naked,” I don’t have anything to protect me or puff me up. I’m just who I am. That’s all I am. It’s like take it or leave it—I am who I am. That’s a very important phrase. I don’t have anything to hide. I am naked so people can look at me or God can look at me and see only His reflection, because if we are naked of everything else then God can be seen in us.
I don’t know if Noah has ever had a theological reflection on what it means to be naked, but I would like to offer these few thoughts about being naked. We pray to God, and we say Lord, anything that comes between you and me just take it away. Take it away. It seems like a very powerful prayer and one that St. Ignatius’ “Take Lord, receive” prayer (Suscipe) he offered us to pray when we found ourselves feeling separated from God.
We can be clothed with too much self, or too much pride, or too much fear. So, we could reflect that I want to be naked. I don’t want any of those “garments” on me because if I’m clothed with pride, with aloofness and coldness, how can anybody love me? How can I love anybody because all I know is myself—my closed-off, clothed self. So sometimes, I ask Noah, “Are you naked?” And I want to be naked too. How do I get to be naked in a way Noah doesn’t fully understand yet, or maybe he does? Maybe he really does know what it means to be naked. I hope so and I hope that we can find the meaning of that together. God bless you.
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatever I have or hold, You have given me; I restore it all to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
—St. Ignatius Loyola