Month: June 2016

Rain for a Fire

 gI1iTee[1]

          For days, I had been in a pot-o’er-the-fire, in a stew of my own making: I had thoughtlessly spoken and hurt someone. I felt wretched, yet, in my sin, I boiled more over the repercussions than over my wrongdoing. Trying to douse the flames within, I swam from harbor to harbor, running from the fire seas. Favourite prayers. Favourite saints. Rosary.

          But it seemed like heaven had chosen to maintain a stony stance against me.

          When you hurt someone, you must expect to get hurt back, for that is how many of the wounded manage their pain. Yet, anchored firmly within my obtuseness was the expectation that when I kick, others should absorb. That when I hurt others, even unintentionally, it is the ready roses of forgiveness I deserve.

          As the wild afternoon winds reached for their evening stoops, no rose of peace made root within me. If anything, the tempests scaled the highs. Wearied by the firestorm, I went to sleep by heaven’s door for a while. St Pio, St Joseph, help me, help me, help me, I prayed, before I sank into the knotted nap of one suffering the consequences of upsetting others.

          Roused shortly after, I expectantly reached for the peace I thought would be mine. Instead, heaven remained as closed as before, my hands came away empty. And restlessness resumed its keening. Deep in the frenzied whipping of guilt and hurt, I sought discernment and escape. I went to my favourite blogs. I returned to pearls tucked within the folds of precious mails. I roamed and searched the plains for someone to tell me I had done no wrong.

          I read of clouds and of rain, and longed for the hope of wetness to rend to ashes this terrible fire.  I traced those words and others, and longed for the peace and strength they proffered. Slowly, ever so slowly, since this all began, I learned to stoop, to humble lines in prayer.

          I have sinned against You, I wrote on my heart. I have sinned against You.

          As the nightwinds sang its hymn, I sensed a door crack open, and little leaves wearing orange floated quietly in. One by one, they softly settled on my spirit, and turned me towards Truth. When I made to move away from what I found hard to admit, the winds blew in more leaves through blogs and words I read that night, until they encircled me in the vine of Truth that held the rain of peace I sought for my flames.

          I knew then what I had to do. I stopped trying to escape flames I had stirred to life through my wrong. I sank to the ground, and began to pray the Rosary, weaving through its ancient prayers my own litany of remorse ~ Forgive me, Jesus, for I have sinned. Forgive me, Jesus, for I have sinned. Through each Sorrowful Mystery, I held Jesus’ Feet as the woman once did, yearning for the same forgiveness she received.

          On the last rose~bead, I felt the first sprinkles of rain….

Mission

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          Among the many things I was raised to believe about myself was that I lacked an enduring love and loyalty. That I gave up on people too quickly, so I was not a person anyone should look to for a hand to hold in a crisis.

          I carried that belief within me into friendships, and later, into prayer life, all the time trying to right that wrong.

By forcing myself to remain in deadly relationships because I believed I was the sole author of all that was wrong about it.

And by continuing with prayers long after the call of need had passed and evolved.

          Not surprisingly, I careened from one wreck to another. As I endeavoured to smoothen the path for others, I wound myself into knots that grew tighter and tighter even when I saw I was going nowhere but south, into the pit of unnecessary pain. The window of rescue flung wide, I turned away from. The open door to freedom I ignored, simply because I believed that it was my personal flaws that made me want to take leave of a situation, not the situation itself.

          Over time, through a series of miracles, cords were severed and I was taken to a different school where I began to learn who I really was. That marked the beginning of the end of detrimental relationships, and I slowly learned to loosen and escape the black grip others had over me.

          But one cord from the past remained. That one made me a prisoner within my own prayers, to my own prayers.

          When we’ve seen the inside of any prison far too much, there will be birthed within us a strong desire to free other imprisoned souls in various other prisons. And I found the recitation of various novenas very efficacious towards that intention. So, every time a pain reached me and couldn’t be dislodged after some prayers, I sought the power of novenas.

          While most were said for the required 9 days, there were others that I prayed – for difficult people, for children other parents struggled over, – which stretched on for months on end. I went to them, day after day, month after month, tugged on not only by the determination to spill light and love into wounds, but also by covert hope that I will be rewarded with the knowledge that my prayers had been answered.

          It is this erring pursuit of subliminal self-seeking which took me into landscapes so arid they ultimately dried up every rivulet of love and mercy within me. After much time had passed and seeing no discernible change in the person or situation I was praying about, I had to drag myself to the novena, just to be faithful to it.

          To not be who I was told I was- fickle, disloyal, lacking in compassion.

          It made me dread prayer time.

          I wanted so much to be over and done with some of those novena prayers because I could sense new needs coming up which I had to somehow either squeeze into my prayer schedule or keep waiting.

          Or totally ignore, hoping someone else would take it up.

          Yet, ending the novena was not an option, simply because I didn’t believe I had discerned it right; I thought it was my fickleness, my lack of loyalty and compassion for suffering souls that made me want to leave a prayer need and move on to another call. I saw the call to prayer as a duty I had to lash myself to.

          I failed to realize that praying for my fellow sheep was a mission to shine light, GIVEN me by my Shepherd. And that after a time in a certain part of a pasture, He would call me to another area of need which would require a move to a new meadow.

          I failed to see that to move, I first needed to leave.

         Soon, however, it came to a point where I had to admit to myself that something was very, very wrong if prayer was tearing me to bits. There was also much guilt over the bitter way I was praying for others. I saw it sully and stain my prayers. It wasn’t right.

          Somehow, my bitterness of spirit as I walked in the fields of pain and need constituted a far worse disloyalty towards others. I needed to discern what had gone wrong with me.

          So, back to heaven’s door I went, a changed person. Broken,  bewildered, penitent. No longer powered by my own desires. 

          Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to learn the lesson others guided by wisdom have long understood and obeyed: that when I answer the call to love others, I am shining the Light God Himself has asked me to.

          It is not my light. It is not the light I think I should shine.

          It is the Light received from the Almighty.

          It is the Light of Mission Willed for me.

          And this flame of mission can burn strong and steadily. Or it can change from time to time. Lights are given to be shone for the sake of Love, as Susan Skinner reminded me.

          I cannot, must never, choose which light to shine when or for how long, because I am the hands and feet of Jesus. To lose myself in the Divine Will is to go where He wills me to go, and to stay in one pasture of pain only for as long as He wills.

          And when He sends the angels to lead me elsewhere, I must learn to trust that the Light I held and shone for a time will now be passed into other faithful hands. In the shift of sands, I might be given this same light to shine out once more, or I might never see it again. As I learn to discern my mission at any given time, so must I learn to leave it when called.

          After all, what is faith but to know that I am one of many in the vineyard, there to shine the Light of Mission pressed into my spirit by One whose wisdom I will never surpass.

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We Shall Meet

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          When June slipped in, I suddenly remembered friends I had long left to themselves in a dusty corner. They were the best friends one could ask for. They never settled comfortably in my life only to make me uncomfortable. They didn’t bang on my door demanding what I could not give. They visited, casting no shadow on my day, but in quiet and gentleness, breathed upon the wind chimes by the door of my heart, and tinkled my awareness of them and their only need:

          That I pray paradise open for them, whose abode lay in the shadows of heaven.

          And so, in a guilt-tinged haste, I went back to an old calling, and began to pray for the Poor Souls who need prayers to unlock the door of Mercy that opens to Divine Rest.

          Sacred Heart, release them.

          As joyful June days tumbled one into the other and I flitted from parcel to parcel of happiness, through an act of will I tried to step away from earthly sunnies to pray the only prayer asked of me by these yearning souls, who have journeyed long and faithfully with me, helping me, protecting me, guiding me away from the rocks in the shadows of earthly life.

          Sacred Heart, have Mercy on them.

          Yesterday, I awoke to a day whose early hours were dipped in rain. The joys of the day beckoned beguilingly and I waited to go to them. Pausing awhile by the window, watching the sun spill its gold through water diamonds, an old hymn fell on the ears of my spirit ~

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

          The moment I heard the lines, I was like a cat caught in water, clutching at life in panic. That was a funeral song, for goodness’ sake! Was I going to die?

          Not wanting to meet anyone on any shore, I made a frantic attempt to silence that song within. I tried to blanket it over with happy, carefree ditties more in keeping with the bouncy day. On such a beautiful day washed and refreshed by the tipping of heaven’s jars, the last thing I wanted to hear was a funeral dirge, because that was all that refrain meant to me.

          In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore….the voices sang on cheerily undeterred.

Please don’t take me now, Jesus, I countered.

          For long minutes, I ran as far I could from that refrain, but it followed me like a chuckle train.

          And then, in a waterdrop moment, the angel reached out and stilled my panic.

          We shall meet on that beautiful shore was not a heavenly summons for my life. It was a promise-gift left me in the joyous parting wave of friends finally going on to the bosom of joy and peace, their release secured by prayers. In the eyes of the sneering world, those hurried, distracted prayers might not have seemed like much.

          But my Holy Soul friends had come on the breath of morn to tell me they had sailed to life eternal on my paltry offerings, offered in homage to the Sacred Heart of my Jesus.

Sacred Home for a Restless Soul

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          In years past, I observed the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by saying the novena and prayers of reparation associated with the feast. Today, being the feast day again, I felt the need to bring a gift for His Heart. In the tiptoe of a moment, I remembered His Call – Bring Me Souls. So, I offered up the Chaplet of Tears for the Holy Souls and for others in need. About to go off to the duties of the working day, I paused to do a quick ‘check’ to see if there was anything else.

          It was then that I recalled a morning dream. Someone from work who was causing us much grief had asked me for a calendar. This person, who in reality had a sword for a tongue, appeared weary and out-of-sorts in the dream. I moved to comply, digging through my bag for that calendar she wanted.

          My bag was a mess. Instead of the calendar, I kept taking out an assortment of Christian books and Christian CDs. It tickled her gently as the pile in her waiting hands grew, and she passed a comment I cannot recall now. I was slightly uneasy that all I seemed to unearth were Christian stuff.

          Uneasy because this waiting person was a Muslim.

          Pondering this during my Holy Hour of sorts, I decided it was a call to bring this soul to God. I must admit that I had to tie tight my heart to the tree of obedience, because in real life, I was struggling a lot with this woman. She was someone I worked with, and she had the voice of authority which she used and abused to her advantage and on every flight of black passions. A woman of much intelligence, she cheated on her work and slyly taught and exhorted others to do the same. She was also a firm believer in the need for abortions to end inconvenient pregnancies and those where there might be a threat of a special needs child being born. She counselled our other colleagues to worship at the altar of Self, and taught them to put themselves first in their marriage and motherhood.

          Finding no peace in her own marriage to a phlegmatic husband she wished showed a bit more fire when necessary, and seeing her children as parasites out to level her money mound, in a determined way, she wounded and maimed marriage and family for others. Any attempt on my part to dissuade her resulted in vicious bites that never seemed to end.

          Certainly the last person I could have prayed for with any human love.

          And yet, in the early hours of this day where orange breezes thrilled through green boughs, someone placed her at the door of my mutinous heart.

          She had become who she is because of the lethal restlessness of a homeless soul. Wrongdoing makes for an uncomfortable pillow, and she had nowhere to rest. It was the call of the Divine Will that I reach out in mercy and give her a home. It was not a call I could wrestle out from.

          So, I placed this ill lady in the Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I rest her soul in You.

          She had asked for a calendar. I could not give her what she wanted, but I pray I have given her the place of rest her soul needed, in the supreme Home of Mercy.

RCMSacred-Heart[1]

Pearls of Little Holies

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          I made a friend recently. Only I didn’t know it till later. I first found him through a humble entreaty to the Holy Spirit in a Consecration Novena I had said short weeks before. Later, in the hours of dry winds, I met him again in a prayer.

          And still it didn’t clink that these bumpings were not mere coincidences.

          Until I came face-to-face with him yet again in a quote by him, On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope, used as a lead to the exquisite poem, Regarding Love by Cynthia Scodova in her blog, The Mad-Eyed Monk. From that quote, he led me down the poem till my eyes rested on

The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          Only then, belatedly, did it hit me that St. Augustine was calling out to me to get my attention, and his call had something to do with the way The infinitesimal sings its small song for You curled and settled into my heart .

          I knew very little about him except that he was more than a trunk-load of headache and heartache to his mother, St. Monica. Then, he found God, and left the sordid life he had known and loved, for another of holy deeps that stripped him of all he had held close before.

          Reading about him, getting to know him, I asked him what his reaching out to me meant. Was it to strip myself of more life-sapping petals? Was it to write more, speak more? What?

          He held my eyes, and took me back to the little lamps he had lit as he drew me towards him.

∗   The simple prayer to the Holy Spirit in the Consecration Novena,

∗   The calling to the Holy Spirit to scatter its cheerful beams into my withering soul.

∗   And finally, The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          And then, the bead slid into its pod.

          St. Augustine, great Doctor of the Church who occupied the highest of echelons of spiritual greatness, was calling me to the littles of life. To pare down life to what was truly important – the little calls heaven presses into my spirit. The ones I sadly, often forsake, seeking instead the heights of greatness in pastures not meant for me. The calls were the sacred duties of wife and mother which God had entrusted to me.

          Every day since I found his prayer I had been praying for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Now, St. Augustine was willing me to understand that for the Spirit to permeate every pore of my soul, I needed to return in cheerful obedience and humility, to tend to every one of the little holies of my life – the sacred calls woven into my marriage and motherhood. To attend to the littles of life was to allow a scattering of the Spirit’s cheerful beams, within every fold and crease of my walk on this earth.

          St. Augustine had come in Mercy, to call me to return to the holiness of the littles. To fill with love and tenderness the golden cups set out for me in the Divine Will. He had come to teach me that every little act of love, every tiny sacrifice hidden for the Love of the Most High, would be like simple grains of sand the world might scoff at, but when  purified, be transformed into pearls of little holies, woven one into another, to form the necklace of Eternal Life.