Since the Prince Edward Island Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote so profoundly of caught my heart and refused to let go this time, I have come to know an ache I have not known before this ~ the intense longing for a life gone by, that was lived for God and God alone. The intensity of this foreign ache for an even more foreign land cut into me so deeply that I was frightened of it, frightened of the power a mere longing could have over me.
What if this is from darkness? I wondered. What if this is a distraction, to take me away from duty and prayers and inner silence?
So, I was determined to wrest back my stoic, practical side, by wilfully forgetting this mad yearning, and getting on with life.
It being the 1st Saturday of the month, I felt a sense of purpose open up before my seeking. Determined to observe 1st Saturday devotions, I decided to live this one day solely for Mother Mary, as an act of reparation for the blasphemies against Her Immaculate Heart.
And to live the hours of the day just this way by burying Prince Edward Island into the folds of forget, so that its beauty would haunt and distract my thoughts no more.
And so it was, Hail Mary after Hail Mary, woven through a day sweetened by cool breezes and the welcome respite of household chores and cares. Nonetheless, it was one rosebud of a Hail Mary after another, against the backdrop of Prince Edward Island. It felt as if my spirit could not release itself from the lure of this little Canadian jewel.
Why? I wondered. Why?
I had wanted to bury it and forget it, hoping spiritual busyness would leech its lustre for me. Yet, like an enduring flame, the beauty of old life on this island burned steadily on in my heart.
Gently, I became aware that my wistful desire for this land didn’t cloud out prayer, or diminish it, – as it would have had this longing been from darkness as I had feared; in fact, the minute I began the consecration of my day to the Immaculate Heart, this strange ache gently eased into the background of my consciousness, content to remain there as I gave my hours as best as I could to Mother Mary.
Despite its potency, it did not compete with Our Lady. On the contrary, it willingly acceded to Our Lady’s presence, although it remained close. If at all it had been the work of the evil one, it would have fled.
Hours passed. I mentally soaked my spirit in pictures of that beautiful island far north of the world, each time asking, Why? Why did you come? Why will you not go? Then, I suddenly thought of someone I know and wondered if I should open up about it.
And with no overture on my part, that was what actually happened. This very person got in touch. Taking it as a sign, I shared what had been happening.
Why am I aching for this place? I asked.
Perhaps it is a longing for heaven…, came the reply.
I am stunned! For it is that exactly. As if by seeing this land, I have touched heaven for real. And I have returned from that communion now, no longer the same for this touch I have been allowed.
If it was indeed that the veils were lifted, then why? For what purpose? Because the life I long for, the period of time the novels of Anne of Green Gables is set in, is not devoid of challenges. I see this Prince Edward Island of the character Anne’s time as my Eden-on-earth – one of savouring of deepest joys, but one of willing, joyous labour too.
Is that what heaven really is too?
For a moment, it all becomes too much, and I want to escape it. But the questions pursue me, pushing me to where the mists are gathered, willing me to not give up seeking the Truth. It comes to family Rosary time, and with a rush of relief, I throw my seeking into the prayers.
Just after the first decade, inexplicably, I sense the questions dry up. I try to summon the queries again, but come up empty. They have gone.
The desire to know has left me.
I return to the rest of the recitation, emptied of myself finally, and in some relief, offer up the prayers as cleansed vessels for the Mother to fill as needed.
When Rosary ends, an Unseen Hand leads me to the question of the Fatima seer, Sr Lucia, for Our Lady of the Fatima Apparitions:
What do You want of me?
It falls straight into my heart.
Immediately, I know that is what I am to ask as well. In a light~burst, the mists part, and I suddenly see the winding turns I had to traverse because that was the only way to reach this question.
What do You want of me?
This inexplicable wrench of heart for a tiny province in a country that will once more be consecrated to Our Lady in July this year, had not been a passing bloom that had randomly fallen into my heart. It had been breathed into my soul on blue breezes, to rest in the folds of my heart.
To trouble and trouble my spirit till it yielded, to ask my own Fatima Question,
What do You ask of me?