On this eighth day of our Novena, the ministers gathered in the vestibule and prayed together (our preparatory "Spirit" routine) as the cantor rendered the beautiful song You Are Mine. The Liturgy of the Word exposed us to the ancient story of Esther, a Jewish woman in a unique historical and political situation. Jessica opened her reflection by quoting from the words of Esther in this first reading: Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, my God! As is her enlightening gift, Jessica opened up the background to Esther's mortal predicament and her dreadful feelings of isolation before God. Once you listen to Jessica weave her own story with this ancient one, you will experience the beauty of how God constructs his own circles of belonging on our ostensibly empty and isolated ones. Now, as an epistolary companion, I invite you to discover the understanding greater than that open for Solomon. For those that would like to have a copy of the Rainer Maria Rilke poem she refers to at the end of her reflection, Jessica sent this translation: You, God, who live next door - If at times, through the long night, I trouble you with my urgent knocking - this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom. I know you're all alone in that room. If you should be thirsty, there's no one to get you a glass of water. I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign! I'm right here. As it happens, the wall between us is very thin. Why couldn't a cry from one of us break it down? It would crumble easily, it would barely make a sound. Hoping you also feel a deeper and wider sense of God's love in having Jessica's words taken to heart. Further thought for today: The Gospel reading of "seek, ask, and knock" reassures us of a loving response from a God who has already anticipated our need. Yet the Gospel pericope concludes with the "golden rule" of doing unto others what we would want done unto us. So it seems, does it not, that God also seeks, asks and knocks on us? Has our love anticipated God's need?