A week back, I began to pray for the grace to love my crosses. I was fed up of fearing them, worrying over them, and twisting this way and that to get away from them. I figured that if I loved my crosses like the saints did theirs, it would make for a far simpler life, gentle the rough and painful.
But I’m no saint. To love one’s cross is a love that is hard to swallow. And praying for the grace to love the cross is one thing; loving it when it actually comes is another. But anyway, last week,was all about praying for this grace. And hale and hearty, feeling strong inside, I went at it with a dedication.
One day, my husband away in another city, the kids in bed, just past the witching hour, I said the Rosary for the day. Through each decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I wove a tentative thanksgiving for the crosses in my life which helped me see the Face of my God. I asked for the grace to love my crosses sincerely. When I was done, I went in to prepare for bed.
No sooner had I set the alarm for the next day when a thunderous crash smashed through my home. Shocked, I shot out of bed, shouting, What was that? What was that? It sounded like something huge and heavy had crashed down to the floor just outside my room. I turned on the light in my room and cautiously scanned the hallway and living room for the source of that terrible sound. None of the pictures on the walls had fallen. The altar hung as securely as ever. The house lay still and silent. The children slept on blissfully unaware of anything. I stood still at my bedroom door, in full alertness, yet, curiously, unafraid.
Then, I saw it.
Just in front of me, on the floor, a good 5 feet from where it hung, was our small, light, wooden Crucifix. Its place was a nail on the wall just beneath our altar outside my room. And just below this Crucifix, was a broad, sturdy, hardwood cabinet. If either the nail on the wall from which it hung or the hook on the Crucifix itself had broken, the Crucifix would have landed on the cabinet, or at the furthest, the floor close to the cabinet. But, no, it landed 5 feet away.
It had hit the floor with a vehemence incongruous with its smallness and lightness.
I was exceedingly calm. Yet, my skin on my right arm crawled and crawled upon seeing the Crucifix on the floor – a sensation I had only when I saw snakes.
I took a deep breath and bent down to pick up the wooden Crucifix. I willed it to have a broken hook.
It was fine, nothing wrong with it.
I went to the wall to see if the nail had loosened. It hung firm and securely.
A light fell into my heart like a shard of glass.
I knew then with a certainty that the Crucifix had not fallen down. That terrifying noise had come with force. It had been smashed down by a force unseen. And it had been smashed down with hatred and anger.
Someone hated the very Cross I wanted to love.
I was alone with young ones, living an hour when it would be insane and heartless to call the priest and tell him what had happened. To get through the remaining hours of the dark night, I tried to convince myself that I had imagined it all. Maybe a super-big bug had knocked the Cross off its hook on the wall.
In an immediate response to that reasoning, my skin crawled again. This time, I couldn’t delude myself into believing that I had imagined it, or that there was an insect that it could be blamed on. The crawling sensation on my skin was proof that the Crucifix on the floor was the work of the serpent.
Why had it come into my home? Where had I gone wrong? I searched my heart for answers as I moved through each room in the house, sprinkling holy water as I prayed a prayer brought to me two years ago in a warning dream of evil, Blood of Christ, wash through my home. It was then that I recalled my prayer earlier, at each decade of the Rosary. My prayer to love my crosses seemed to only be brave words from a cowardly soul, yet, it had hit darkness and lit a black rage there, its fury making it grab and smash the very Cross I had prayed to love.
In that moment of illumination, I realized that every humble and sincere prayer troubles the dark waters, but the prayer to willingly suffer for Christ goes further. It unlocks an unseen gate, unleashing a violent tempest of malevolence. I believe it is the prayer the dark hates the most. And that was the prayer I prayed in all my weakness. The journey of years had brought me to that point. I have taken a step willed and lit by heaven’s Light. But it’s not a step the dark ever wanted me to take.
To suffer for my Christ is to suffer the brutality of the dark. Yet, cowardly and lame as I am, I will not turn back, for I sense heaven lies ahead.
Just past the steaming dark swells that churn between the now and the Coming.