My Christmas surprises came a little late this year – they came this week. Little things longed for, but on which I didn’t dare linger in yearning too long, lit up my tree the first week of 2017. Little gifts, left to surprise, in misted pockets along my path.
So, it has been a happy week. Tiring but happy. I flew to duties, I flew to tasks, with an energy I hadn’t felt in a long while. And it felt good to see things work out. It felt even better to see how I handled life when the road dipped unexpectedly around the bends.
I should have been up in the sky of a hundred blues, twirling next to the shy gold sun.
But I wasn’t.
Something was missing. I missed my Lord’s voice.
I missed Him in the press of spirit I sometimes feel when searching for Him. I missed Him in the unseen Hand on my will, holding me back from something. I missed Him in the songs sung by unseen voices somewhere deep within me.
This week, it certainly felt like He had released me to skip along my own path in wildflower meadows hiding a thousand surprises of light and joys. And skip and dance and spin I did, for it was great to feel light and unburdened for once.
Yet, I came to the quiet sunset of the week, feeling a slight emptiness, despite the successes and happiness of the busy days past, no sorrow or suffering casting their shadows. I didn’t feel abandoned. But I did feel as if my Lord had skipped town for a bit.
And the lights dimmed for me.
That was when I realized that as much as I longed to be carefree and in a perpetual jolly frolic, I only felt anchored to my God in suffering – whether it was through my own suffering or through the pains of others. In the days past, Heaven had blessed me with the freedom to wander unrestrained amongst dancing grasses and singing blooms, and even as I sang happy ditties, my spirit ached from an odd loss. The missing of something that had always been there. That should have been there, but it was not. It was much more than an attachment to something.
I was feeling the bereftness that binds a life lived away from the sun of suffering.
Today, I came late to the morning hours birthed from a cloud-festooned grey~blue sky. Hence, I missed my usual rest by God’s door, and that poked more than a bit at my heart. I didn’t like missing my morning Holy Hour of sorts. It wasn’t much, by any standards, and to not keep even that was to sink to a low I was not comfortable with. But there was no chance to slip away.
Deep in chores I had offered up in lieu of my still~time with Him, I sent God my yearning:
I want to pray. Not like this, on the go, but to really immerse myself in prayer.
The wish had barely left my heart when I heard unseen voices, singing a familiar song in a somber timbre. I leaned in to listen. It was the Litany of Saints. Sung by a choir hidden from sight. I recognized the tune, but while the voices were clear, the words were oddly muffled. I immediately wished I knew what the response was to each saint mentioned in the litany, because, while I didn’t know the Litany off by heart, but I knew enough saints to be able to concoct my own litany. I just needed to know what the response was. I could then pray as I worked.
On cue, the voices sang, St…Pray for us.
Pray for us. That was it.
About to begin the prayer, I felt an imperceptible tug on my spirit, like Someone was holding me back a wee bit. So, I stepped back from the choir, and tried to discern the message – if any. I thought perhaps it was to understand what to pray for, or to focus on a specific saint.
Instead, I felt I was led to focus on the hidden voices singing the litany. The mystery choir.
Who are they, I wondered. Angels? It didn’t seem so. Monks or priests singing it on recordings I have surely heard many times before? Quite possibly, yet, it didn’t feel that way.
I leaned in deeper.
And made out a quality of sorrow in their voices. Unmistakable notes of pleading woven through the grave cadences. Something familiar about them.
And once I had reached that, I felt my attention led to the next lamp:
Pray for us.
Angels wouldn’t ask us to pray for them.
And then I knew. Those were the voices of my friends, the Holy Souls.
When I had expressed the wish to pray deep, it was to sink deep into my friends’ and their children’s prayer needs, those I had been informed of. I had their faces before me, and I wanted to be there for them.
But it was not to them that God turned me to; He instead led me to the most loyal of my friends, the ones I love, yet, often forget. The ones in the deepest pain – the Poor Souls.
I had asked to be able to pray, to touch the pains of my friends and loved ones, for Jesus. And so, He answered me by letting the pleading prayer of the Holy Souls fall on my ears, so it may be my prayer too. To their suffering I was led, their song I joined.
And there I found Jesus. Home I have come.