No Other But This

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Thus says the LORD:
On that day I will raise up
the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches,
raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
Yes, days are coming,
says the LORD,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
and the vintager, him who sows the seed;
The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains,
and all the hills shall run with it.
I will bring about the restoration of My people Israel;
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities   ~  Amos 9: 11; 13 – 14

          For much of the past months, it has seemed as if every structure in my country is being torn down, every belief attacked and shattered. I returned to work some weeks ago and to my sadness, found that the weeks of stay-home had not made better persons out of all of us. Colleagues who had been bitter and who had chafed at the constraints of lockdown, now returned to raucous revelry, grimly intent on reclaiming lost time.

          Over the years, as more and more of my workmates became increasingly distracted from their core portfolios and responsibilities, the noise levels at work had been rising, fed by daily office potlucks, gossip cliques and online shopping addiction which steadily made inroads into formal work hours and beyond.

          But the post-Covid noise decibels in my work place now is beyond belief. Too many are high on something not good. Work is a farce. Silence has fled.

I brought upon you such upheaval
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah:
you were like a brand plucked from the fire;
Yet you returned not to Me,
says the LORD.   ~  Amos 4: 11

          I am struggling and yet, paradoxically, I am working well too. Even as I fight to put out one fire after another within my heart, my work is not held back in the least.

          But there’s no escaping the deepening frustration and sadness at the scale of moral destruction before my eyes. In my work place. In my country. I can see where this is going. We are fast reaching a point of no return. Something in my heart tells me that once that invisible line is crossed, there will be no coming back. In each one of those rabble rousers at work and elsewhere, there are yet morsels of sweetness.

But if a major correction does not come soon enough, even that will be lost.

When the last light within them goes out, I fear that no other light will live in its place.

          When I took this to Jesus, His surprising answer to my distress was,

My Time has come. I am about to bring to fulfilment my plan for you and for those whom I have sent you. My Eucharistic Face will shine over this new hour of building…   ~  In Sinu Jesu

          He did not speak about the rising squalls. Yet, I know Jesus is not ignoring the ruin we are bringing ourselves to. Through the In Sinu Jesu words which lit hope in me, Jesus is clearly asking me to shift the gaze of my heart to what I am called to. He is not advocating the indifference of the deaf ear nor of the blind eye to the massive unravelling around me; instead, because of it, Jesus wants me to be in my place, doing what He has willed for me.

          This is not the first time I am hearing this. I have lost count of the number of occasions, when upset over developments in my part of the world, He has sent His Angel to remind me that my place is

Not in the violent winds

Not in the earthquakes

Not in the fire

but in the hiddenness of the presence of God. In the Eucharistic Adoration I am called to – even in the busyness of work.

          This is not due to anything of merit in me – but simply because Jesus knows well my weaknesses. I don’t handle confrontations well. I am easily intimidated. And it takes me longer than others to recover from battles. For other stronger souls, He might have earmarked the vineyards of greater work right in the midst of violent winds and earthquakes and raging fires.

          But not for me – because I’d drown.

          Or more likely, drown others.

          Often, I do feel hurt that God hasn’t marked out ‘greater work’ for me. Often, I tire of the hiddenness and obscurity of my own little vineyard. But many years ago, God made it clear,

If you cannot on the ocean
Sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
Laughing at the storms you meet;
You can stand among the sailors,
Anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them
As they launch their boats away.   ~  Your Mission, Ellen M. H Gates

 

My work is as ever, among the shadows of greater suns.

          Still, today, He lifts the veil a little.

My Time has come

…this new hour of building

          Something is ahead. Something different from the usual rebuilding of torn down structures. A newness to the coming hours. Slowly, it dawns on me that the recent weeks of being buffeted by lashing winds didn’t affect my quality of work – because God was trying to show me that was my place, to steadily build on but to build by the sidelines of life. Not in the centre of a field easily sighted; but in the purposeful hiddenness to be seen only by those who are seeking.

          In Jesus’ gentle way, He wants me to learn that I am not placed in the open fields to catch the eye of the multitudes because I am not meant to be there for everyone. My vineyard is only for the wounded, the trampled, the weak, the fearful.

          Those who are not looking up, searching for suns,  but whose gaze is cast down. Those are the ones God has given to me. The broken and the hurt. The humble and the hidden.

          That is why no other vineyard will do but this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When All Seems Lost

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…a great unraveling will soon spread throughout the world and everyone will be tested…

          At the beginning of the year, someone heard Jesus speak those words to her. I see it being fulfilled in my country now, before my very eyes. Everything we have built up over the years being torn down, one by one. Every structure, every single pillar of decency and integrity.

          Soon, nothing will be left standing – yet, I fear, even that wouldn’t satiate the marauders and plunderers of my land, for the greed of satan knows no bounds.

          What is there to stop them? Who can stop them?

          On Monday, God gently drew me to Him.

My help comes from the LORD,

the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

or your guardian to sleep.

Behold, the guardian of Israel

never slumbers nor sleeps.

The LORD is your guardian;

the LORD is your shade

at your right hand.

By day the sun will not strike you,

nor the moon by night.

The LORD will guard you from all evil;

He will guard your soul.

The LORD will guard your coming and going

both now and forever.   ~  Psalm 121: 2 – 8

 

          As peace slipped its covers over me, I looked up to heaven. Gently, ever so gently, someone tucked this last rose into my heart,

God will help it at the break of dawn.   ~   Psalm 46: 6

         At the break of dawn.

          When all seems lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost There

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          Last night, I was with my family in my living room, engrossed in my reading while the rest were watching something on the telly. Suddenly, from the telly came this,

Something is about to happen. Trust in me.

          I didn’t even look up to see who had said that or what was playing. It was as if everything had immediately tunneled into introspection.

Something is about to happen.

Trust in Me.

          Trust in Me had been a constant reminder, with a few more chimes earlier that day. A few hours earlier, I had asked God to give me His sign for whatever lay ahead, what I needed to do, whatever He wanted of me. In a new daring, I had asked for a quick and clear reply, but when that didn’t materialise, I just shrugged and stuck to my perch by His heart.

          And then, when I least expected it, came that voice out of the television.

          I had an idea about what might be coming, but as usual, there was more than what I was expecting. Today, on Trinity Sunday, at 3pm, we received news that the restricted movement order in my country was being lifted. Work and life would more or less go back to what it was before except for the social distancing.

          Of course, the part about work was enough to cast the clouds deep and heavy. Nevertheless, I pulled myself up firmly. God had given me more than 2 months’ respite from that hell. It had been unexpected and totally welcome, a true gift. I would not slump now.

          But there was more. I soon heard that almost everyone in my workplace was looking forwards to returning to the office. It had nothing to do with the longing to work or the mounds waiting for them.

They were plain sick and tired of being stuck at home with family.

          That hurt me to the core.

          They were ready for the daycares and care providers to take over what they had struggled with these past months. They were ready to resume their posts by the beaches of fun and play. The blasting of music. The endless celebrations. The parade of buy-and-shows from online shopping.

          The children were a burden. The husbands were useless free loaders. The wives trying and annoying. Work was the escape my colleagues missed and longed for each and every day of the lockdown.

          For me, that spelt the worst thing ever to return to: a life unchanged. To work amongst people who considered family a burden. Even worse, these were a people who had barely been touched by the sorrow Covid-19 had wrecked upon so many countries, so many families. As far as they were concerned, Covid-19 had justly been the infidel’s nightmare; their faith had protected them from the worst of the ravages.

          Needing a short rest, I took my heavy heart to bed. Before I closed my eyes, as an affirmation of my trust in Him, I told Jesus I was leaning against His heart. I asked for St. Anne, St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary to sit with me, to help me understand His words.

          Just before I woke up fully, I dreamt of my neighbour’s clothesline, all laden with laundry. They seemed to have more than the usual lines strung up. And on the line closest to our fence, hung 4 little baby clothes. As I gazed at the 4 sweet baby-wears, I mused that my neighbour’s eldest daughter must have returned with the restricted movement order now lifted.

And then someone placed my eyes squarely on the number of baby clothes hanging there.

4

          With that, I woke up.

          4 had marked the start of this lockdown with the 4 crosses in the night sky. 4 warriors going to battle for us.

          And now, as the time in our hermitage draws to a close, 4 returns once more.

          What does it mean, 4 baby clothes on the line? I asked St. Anne, St. Faustina and St. Margaret. Slowly, as if from a great distance, I heard the strains of a Christmas song that has come thrice before during this lockdown – Michael W. Smith’s We’re Almost There.

          Hearing it today made it the 4th time.

          For some reason, I completely lost the lyrics in my head. I could only hum along, the words all gone. Again, I turned to the 3 saints who had stayed with me. Which line? I asked them.

          Gently, they unfurled the answer,

You’re almost where the journey ends
Where death will die and life begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are The Cracks

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Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.   ~   St Angela Merici

 

          There’s nothing like a major societal eruption to get us into sanctimonious finger pointing. It will always be someone else’s fault. The resolution, the clean-up, is always on someone else’s card too.

          Too often, we forget to look over our shoulder at our own backyard. We conveniently gloss over the searching questions we should be asking ourselves.

          We willfully choose to ignore the roots of disorder that reach all the way down into our own families. We make excuses for ourselves. We look the other way. We busy ourselves with the view outside our window because that’s a lot easier to do than to put the way we raise our children and our family relationships under the microscope of illumination.

Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family

          When our children fall away from the faith, in self-righteous anger we blame the Church, the priests, the Pope even. The dogma is outdated, the Rites of the Holy Mass not traditional enough, the Pope failed to speak and act like a pope should.

…the smoke of Satan has entered the Church   ~ Pope Paul VI

          That is among the most famous and oft-repeated quotes in Catholic circles but never has it been bandied about as much as now – in the times of Pope Francis’ papacy. Some have even gone as far as to accuse the Holy Father of being the antichrist because he does not conform comfortably to the narratives our pride dictates.

…through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God

          We are the cracks, says my heart to me today. We are those cracks through which the smoke of satan has entered the Church of God: the family.

We crack when we become Eve in the Garden of Eden all over again. When we listen to that voice that tells us that we are the God of ourselves.

We crack when we become Adam. When we blame others and absolve ourselves.

          And each time we make that choice, the crack runs all the way back to the family. When the family breaks, society crumbles and collapses.

          As disorder begins to tear at the fabric of nations, both small and mighty, I stand among the crowds. I might pray for the fire to end, the wounds to heal. But my prayers will mean little if I lack the courage to take the next step – which is to take custody of my sight and to cast it inwards. If we are to arrest this fire of destruction, I need to begin with myself and my family.

          For the cracks that race outward to splinter society begin right here.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn To Live Again

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I walked back through the front door of Holly Oak and everything seemed different, almost hollow, quieter than it had ever been. I’d been immersed in the book for so long, I had to learn how to live again.   ~  Susan Branch, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams

          I had come to near the end of Isle of Dreams, to the author emerging from a long journey of writing and working on getting her first book published. To the line, I had to learn how to live again. And my eyes were placed squarely on it.

          Therein lay the unvarnished reality of much of my problems – living so much of life trying to scrub myself clean of failure, I am finding it difficult to function on my terms alone.

          Like so many adult survivors of narcissistic abuse, much of my life has been built on the jagged rocks of condescension; I was raised to internalize that I was nothing and would have amounted to nothing had it not been for the intervention of others. Thus, I grew up and grew older having a keener awareness of my weaknesses and failings than of anything else. However much I learned otherwise about myself, the inner voice that always had my ear was the one that sniggered at my efforts. So, even as I walked further and further away from my old cage, one hand always remained on its door.

          Even with the grace of awareness and strength to break away and start anew, one shadow has followed me all the way – that of guilt. In my life, there has always been only 2 ways to beat guilt down.

Break away from the source.

Or appease it to the point of silence.

          Appeasing was the main option when guilt attacked at work. No matter how much I did, how hard I worked, I was never good enough. Not for the many suspicious people around me. Certainly not for the hidden past that was somehow always present.

          And so, I just worked harder.

          More than 2 decades passed in this fashion. As work pressure built up over the years, I had another load on me that no one saw –  a hidden demon that goaded me to the darkest depths of professional overreach.

          Then, the pandemic came. After the initial euphoria of working from home, with the heady happiness that comes from the freedom to feed my spirit with the wine of home and all its loveliness in the midst of official work, that gnarled hand returned and silkenly lured me back to the path I swore to leave. Quietly and compellingly telling me people needed me. That much more was needed to prove myself since it was WFH.

          And I let myself be led by it. What ensued were two major mistakes made as a result of exhaustion from working till the wee hours.

          Stumbling to bed, desperate for sleep, I suddenly realised that the need that drove me was mostly a mirage. There was genuine need – but I had not been called to every layer of its depth.

          Lesson learned – but I feared, for a time only – because what many NPD parents bequeath their children is the curse of lifelong guilt that nothing will ever be enough.

          I’m sorry, Lord, I whispered as I fell into exhausted sleep. Never again, Lord.

          I awakened scant hours later, with a strange energy coursing through me. I knew immediately that something had happened in the night as I slept.

Someone had heard me.

          Later in the morning, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque paid me a brief visit.

God has shown you His lights. You know what to do.

          But a later search for the exact quote came up empty. I could find no trace of it. And yet, on and on it echoed through the hours,

You know what to do

You know what to do

You know what to do

          All through that sun~scented Thursday, the robins and sunbirds sang, their lilting hymns piercingly clear. I leaned in and listened. Something had changed even here. I was hearing them differently now. Every time, it brought a smile to my heart.

          And all through that Thursday,

You know what to do.

           No, I don’t, I countered each time. I couldn’t understand. How could St. Margaret not know that I had no idea how to escape this shadow called guilt.

God has shown you His lights, she insisted.

          What lights? I wanted to ask, but that wouldn’t have been completely honest of me. I understood some things. Last year, through a dream, God had shown me I was headed for a major burnout. I took immediate steps to break the fall. But with WFH, I figured that I was having sufficient rest and since I had been cut a huge break from unnecessary work commitments, I could afford to work a little harder in other areas.

          But then came those 2 back-to-back mistakes and the searing epiphany.

          God has shown you His lights

          Night brought the needed clarity. After night Rosary, waiting for the house to fall silent, I reached for Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

          In one of those final pages, someone put a finger under the words,

I had to learn how to live again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Transition

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          The week began with 3 distinct nudges to pray for an awakening of the spirit.

          It started with In Sinu Jesu, read in obedience to the quietest of calls to leave my laptop and phone and instead, Tolle lege. Phrases like outpouring of the Holy Spirit, hearts will be opened, miracles and graces abound, synonymous with this Easter period moving towards Pentecost, suddenly reached out and caught my heart without warning.

          Just like that, I knew I had to pay attention.

          The next bell tinkled with a message from my godmother about a virtual Pentecost Pilgrimage. While the details didn’t tug at me in a deeper way, someone held my eyes a little longer on the word, Pentecost.

          The last chime came late on a Wednesday night. A story about a WWII vet who was now a pastor. He had been ill and had asked God to take his life, but God told him he was needed on earth and it was to gather people together to pray for a spiritual awakening. Because of Covid-19, that gathering had to be a spiritual gathering.

A meeting of praying hearts.

          And with that, it became clear what I had to do. While it was nothing that hadn’t been done before, initiating it was a first for me. I texted my godparents and we worked out a time to pray together from wherever we were. We didn’t need to thresh out any details beyond that, how we’d do it or for how long. Just that we would pray in our own ways for this awakening, hearts joined across 2 countries.

          The rest of the day was busy with work, mingled with a slight anxiousness that I’d miss that prayer meet. I also pondered what prayer I was called to. Did I just say whatever came to mind or was there to be a specific prayer for me?

          The answer came quickly enough. My prayer for the awakening was to be the Conversion Prayer in the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus,

as a Fount of Mercy for us,

I trust in You.

          Late that Thursday night, waiting for one of my children to finish up for the night, my thoughts wondered to the Heart of Jesus, and from there, to the Wound in His side. I thought about the centurion who had inflicted that final wound on Jesus. Blood and Water had flowed out. Repentance and purification. A moment of searing revelation and utter contrition. An illumination.

Truly this man was the Son of God!   ~  Mark 15: 39

          I thought about Longinus, the name given to the centurion who had pierced Jesus. Tradition tells us that nothing had been the same for him since that moment of illumination.

          I slept deeply that night, awakening early on Friday morning. The moment I awoke, from a deep, unknown distance, I heard the lines of a familiar hymn,

I go before you always.
Come, follow Me, and I will give you rest.

‘         On and on, those lines wound through me, but still, as if from a great, great distance.

          I looked up that hymn and imagine how I felt when I saw its title,

Be Not Afraid

          Then, I read about its composer, Fr. Bob Dufford, and about his journey in creating that hymn and the journey the hymn took him on later.

I learned that God used that hymn to ease transitions.

          When I finally went to my Readings for Friday, my heart went still, for it was John 14: 1,

Jesus said to his disciples:
Do not let your hearts be troubled.

          I hadn’t known beforehand of the Gospel reading for Friday – but someone clearly did and had sung those lines early to lead me.

          From what I read, that hymn, Be Not Afraid had a lot to do with transitions and fear of them.

          On Saturday morn, praying for the awakening, I recited the Conversion Prayer in my garden. Threading the prayer through quiet minutes scented by the white~gold of the sun, I watched unhurried, bees busy among the blooming flowers, and let the gentle breezes hold me in their sweet embrace.

          These weeks of the stay-home order have changed me, maybe even in ways unknown to me. Yet, I have little reason to believe that my workmates and superiors have changed for the better. How could I go back, how do I go back changed – but to a place and values still bound to an old where the sun doesn’t rise? To where I am welcomed one day and rejected the next, because I am an outsider. Not of their faith. Not of their race.

          To work alongside and beside the woman who does all she can to make sure I am aware of her hatred for me.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Then, go before me, Jesus, I prayed that day. I thought about the woman whose jealousy and hatred draws from wells that seemingly never run dry. I cannot love her, Lord, I whispered. If love means to think good of her and to love her like I do my husband and my children, then it was beyond me. All I was capable of was to fight myself in not wishing her ill –  and even at that, I fall a hundred times. I imagined Jesus sitting in her place. Not Jesus in her – that was too much for me – but Jesus in her place, instead of her.

          I smiled at that. If only…

          A few short hours later, I learned that I had to return to work next week. Although the short notice caught me by surprise, I was surprisingly calm and resigned.

          Then, I learned that a new schedule had been put in place. That we would work in the office in teams and in shifts.

          The woman was not on my team, not on my shift.

          I thought of my imaginings earlier that day, under the arching majesty of the sun. Of Jesus beside me at work.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Indeed He had. Things are changing. More than what is visible are the secret stirrings beneath the earth of our daily lives, all moving towards something. The inner call to pray for conversion of spirits, the new normal-s in every layer of life, are just part of this new journey of change.

Be not afraid,

I go before you.

          Jesus had come to tell me that it was time to rise and set out.

          We are in transition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carry the Cross, Not You

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Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it.   ~  St. Philip Neri

          Just as dusk was falling today, I sensed a familiar but unwelcome shrivelling up within me. It didn’t come on the heels of frustration or tiredness or boredom. It wasn’t due to overwork or a lack of sleep. It came after days of beautiful blue skies and fat, white cloud boats. After a sudden orange~black darkening of evening farewells, running thrills through me. After the skies tipped over the blessings they had hidden in their bosoms all day, washing the earth clean and fresh.

          After so many happy, daisy~days, comes this old path, its emergence as always, unheralded, as always, unwelcome. Bitterly dry, with nary a water drop to wet even a morsel of the unyielding earth.

          It comes in the later hours of a Sunday lived in a new way today, for upon my morning rising, I had tasked my angel,

Take my soul to every Tabernacle where it is needed.

Place my soul before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus.

 

So that on a Sunday where the sacrifice of the Mass is yet again denied us, He is not left alone.

          And then, I had skipped to my waiting day. Flowers on the altar, marigolds and zinnias after ever so long. Mass on tv. A happy lunch. A little work. Good rest.

          A day so right, lived seemingly right too. And yet, here it was, that old of olds, an inner state that felt like the dull brown-red of the streets of purgatory I’d seen almost 2 years ago in a dream.

Drynesses of spirit and devotion

          Oh, any cross but this, my heart gets ready to grumble.

          But again, St. Philip Neri beats me to it.

As a rule, people who aim at a spiritual life begin with the sweet and afterward pass on to the bitter. So now, away with all tepidity, off with that mask of yours, carry your cross, don’t leave it to carry you.

          Despite it all, I have to chuckle. Carry your cross. Don’t leave it to carry you.

          Oh, the wisdom of God!

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Garden

Anemone Coronaria, Flower of Israel

May He teach you what He desires of you, and may He give you the strength to accomplish it perfectly! If I am not mistaken, this, in a few words, is what I think He chiefly requires of you: He wishes that you should learn to live without support – without a friend – and without satisfaction. In proportion as you ponder these words, He will help you to understand them.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

 

          On Wednesday last week, longstanding issues resurrected themselves at home. Deeply hurt and frustrated that even the beauty of time with family and nature couldn’t resolve old habits, I took my heart and placed it in the Sacred Heart of Jesus – because left within me, my heart was sure to fall into the depths of anger and unforgiveness.

          Then, I threw myself at the feet of heaven, asking for guidance.

          Its answer came from the mother~heart of St. Margaret Mary.

May He teach you what He desires of you, and may He give you the strength to accomplish it perfectly!

          Stunned somewhat, I realised this unpleasantness was willed.

He wishes that you should learn to live without support – without a friend – and without satisfaction.

          That broke my heart into pieces, for loneliness and aloneness due to being misunderstood and maligned, has been my cross for a great many years. To see now that even that was willed, was just too much.

          Upon praying to St. Anne and to my guardian angel to keep my tears, within a few short hours, they brought me Jesus’ words,

Love as I have loved you.

          And with that, I resolved to get up and start all over again.

          But even as I went to my day and busied myself in the depths of a beautiful, sunny blue day, I wondered about St. Margaret Mary’s last words,

In proportion as you ponder these words, He will help you to understand them.

           Those words remained before me in the weave of gentle wind brushed hours. Curious as to what St. Margaret Mary meant, I went in search of her, and this I found,

Every night between Thursday and Friday I will make thee share in the mortal sadness which I was pleased to feel in the Garden of Olives, and this sadness, without thy being able to understand it, shall reduce thee to a kind of agony harder to endure than death itself. And in order to bear Me company in the humble prayer that I then offered to My Father, in the midst of my anguish, thou shalt rise between eleven o’clock and midnight, and remain prostrate with Me for an hour, not only to appease the divine anger by begging mercy for sinners, but also to mitigate in some way the bitterness which I felt at that time on finding Myself abandoned by my Apostles,…   ~  Jesus’ words to St. Margaret Mary

 

I will make thee share

Garden of Olives

Without thy being able to understand it

Agony harder to endure than death itself

Mitigate the bitterness

Finding myself abandoned by My Apostles

 

          There is only one hurt worse than all others for me and that is the hurt caused by the family I love beyond all else. And of the many hurts to be endured in a family, it is the hurt of being cast aside in favour of professional work, which cuts deepest. It is not the childish and narcissistic petulance about wanting to always be first in your spouse’s heart. Rather, it is the pain of knowing that whenever it comes to a choice between passion for work and staying close to your spouse’s heart, work has always won.

It is a hurt that falls within the shadow of the Abandonment in Gethsemane.

          Despite knowing what Jesus has to soon face, the Apostles – those closest to His Heart – chose the less troubling option of indifference. They chose the appeasement of slumber.

They choose themselves over Jesus.

          In a marriage, in family life, when we choose ourselves over even the littlest wills of heaven, we once again become the apostles in Gethsemane – because we choose what we want, we choose what stimulates and excites and what drives us. While marriage and family life is every happy and joyful tale we hear, it is also filled with heartaches, struggles and stretches of mundanity. Yet, these are the crosses God weaves into our lives to enable us to walk in His Son’s footsteps – for that is the only road to heaven.

It is the only path to Life.

          By willfully and defiantly choosing external lures and satisfactions, we choose the side of the apostles in Gethsemane. In choosing worldly consolations, we choose another path. We delude by comforting ourselves that this too is just another road that leads to Life.

          But it isn’t and doesn’t. Because that path bears not the footprints of Jesus.

          Despite the resurgence of old cheer within me, a note of sadness has stolen into the glorias of the winds and the sun. No matter how happy I am, there will be many more returns to the Garden of Olives.

          For Jesus has made it clear in His last words for the day. He needs my suffering to

Mitigate the bitterness I felt on finding myself abandoned by My Apostles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Trust

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I will confess somedays I feel forgotten
Seems like You’re hiding Your face from me
I will admit that I wrestle with my thoughts
Struggle with all of the sorrow deep
How long will You leave me here without answers
Crushed by the words of my enemies

But I will trust Your unfailing love
I will rest knowing You’re enough
I will give praise for through all my days
You have been good to me

You have been good
Ever so good
You have been good to me.   ~  Alisa Turner, Psalm 13

 

          It was an end to a beautiful Easter, which came unexpectedly. After the hours of simple yet utterly happy Easter merrymaking, close to midnight, my Muslim boss texted about a change in schedules and a substantial increase in work beginning the very next day. I wasn’t ready for the change. I wasn’t ready for the platform I needed to use; I could barely wrap my brain around it.

          And I needed to be ready by early morning.

          Finally, stressed and worn trying to make sense of the platform, I went to bed at 2 a.m. And struggled to sleep till well past 3. I recited the Rosary in snatches and it was a recitation in tatters. Awakening just a few hours later, with the awful load awaiting me, I didn’t spend time immersing my spirit in the wild rain tossed hours of dawn. It would have been the most beautiful thing to rest in the sweet hush that only rain can bring. But there was a day already in shambles beckoning grumpily. On and on, I stumbled through, till twilight.

          This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, I told Jesus. Not so soon, not the day after. The fall to earth from the heights of utter Easter joy was a rude shock. It wasn’t my boss’ fault, to be honest. Sometimes, that’s just the way things turn out.

          But it hurt me that Jesus allowed it to happen. And that hurt opened the door of acknowledgement of other hurts I had buried a little. It hurt me that the leaders of my country had scant concern for the people. That even in the shadow of death, kleptocracy and callousness showed no sign of abating.

          Mere whisper hours past Easter Sunday, the hurt which I can normally sling over my back and carry on, bit a little deeper than usual. And heaven’s silence since Holy Week, a silence I had peaceably accepted for a week, drew blood today when it seemed like even my guardian angel had fled, seeking other hearts to watch out for.

          Why, Jesus, why? I pressed heaven gently, not in anger nor anguish, but in the tiny hurt of a child, eyes a little wet from a scraped knee. Why wont You speak?

…I feel forgotten
Seems like You’re hiding Your face from me
…I wrestle with my thoughts
Struggle with all of the sorrow deep
How long will You leave me here without answers
Crushed by the words of my enemies…

          Slowly, I became aware of a tiny, still voice singing the song, Psalm 13 by Alisa Turner. It came from the deepest recesses of my being, from depths even I had no permission to enter. But once I heard the song and recognition fell on my heart, I rushed to it, for that song was heaven’s answer to my seeking.

          And in its gentle words, I saw my Angel’s finger pointing out the path that had blurred for a while.

But I will trust Your unfailing love
I will rest knowing You’re enough
I will give praise for through all my days
You have been good to me.