Thunder rumbles from the grey breast of a huge, roll cloud lying low in the darkening west. The day is almost at its end. With the promise of heavy rain due soon, it is a fitting close to the week, for I so love rain and a wee storm on a Friday.
More so when it marks the closing of the 40.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. ~ 1 Kings 19: 4 – 8
It has been 40 days since it came strong that this too must be my journey, 40 days and 40 nights to the mountain of God, accompanied by St. Padre Pio, my spiritual father, and St. Michael the Archangel. If I’ve discerned the 40 correctly, then, today, I should be at the mountain.
At the foothills? The peak? Somewhere in between?
I don’t know.
Or still a long way off? I wouldn’t discount that, I’ve been wrong about a lot of things a lot of times.
But it has been a huge journey, at least to me, marked by the ridges and canyons of struggles, old and new.
And yet, I say this too – as much as I’ve felt the waves hit and pound at me, I’ve also felt the gentle embrace of warm sea~swirls, lovingly assuring me that I was not alone. The 40 has passed quickly, smoothly, and with a strange decidedness. As if Someone was ahead of me, turning the pages, knowing when to turn them. In many of my previous bouts of struggle, there’s always been confusion. Doing and undoing, back and forth. But not this time. No matter how deep the frustration or anger on the journey this time, it was always clear to my heart, if not to my mind, what I needed to do to put one foot forward and to move on to the next point. And for all the knots of struggles and difficulties, the peace has been undeniable. Every day, worn out and frustrated from work issues, even angry with God on some days, I’ve come home to my husband and children, and somehow, found renewed strength and will to care for them. Not every day was great. But it all worked out each day, no matter how hard the gone hours had been.
And I know that I had nothing to do with it.
My prayers and whatever obedience I could squeeze out of my willfulness, took me some distance, but the serenity I experienced despite the hurts, the bursts of life, courage and exuberance to work and work and work – none of it was mine.
It came from somewhere else. A power from a Love and a Wisdom so deep and firm, that no human can ever lay claim to.
A power that guided me to the seas of deeper freedom.
Where do I go from here? I had wondered aloud to beautiful soul who had journeyed the 40 with me.
That very night, someone passed by my window of waiting. He stepped quietly, his movements quick, economical. He left me a little package and swiftly took leave. He didn’t wait for me to recognize him.
He was St. John of the Cross, Father of the Carmelites, to whom five years ago, Our Lady of La Salette had passed the mantle of responsibility to lead me to the Light of freedom, away from the shadows of a narcissist’s abuse. I learned of his enduring love for me, as he stayed by my ear for weeks and weeks, untiringly calling out, Seek counsel, Seek counsel, Seek counsel.
When I finally bent my ear to him, he led me to a priest – incidentally, one promised to the Carmelites. And my children were saved. My marriage was saved.
My very life was saved. St. John had snatched me away from the jaws of death and lifelong sorrow and anguish.
He has returned now, on this final day of the 40, in his customary quietness, to invite me to follow him for the 9 remaining days of September. When I first read his note, even more so when I looked at the contents of the package he had left at the doorstep of discernment, I wasn’t sure. The Novena to St. John of the Cross is a hard novena to pray from the heart, for it will take me into the deepest silence of amare nesciri – to love to be unknown. To eschew all and everything for the Heart of God.
But St. John didn’t tug me to him as he did before. He didn’t linger to hear my answer.
He didn’t have to, I guess. He knew what it would be.