Month: July 2019

When the Rainbow Meets the Earth

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          A few days ago, in an unexpected answer to weariness over yet another spate of work shenanigans, God showed me the reason why He willed some forms of suffering for me. He did this through an account of suffering endured by St. Faustina Kowalska due to bullying by another nun.

As I was taking leave of the sisters and was about to depart, one of them apologized much to me for having helped me so little in my duties, and not only for having neglected to help me, but also for having tried to make things more difficult for me. However, in my own heart, I regarded her as a great benefactress, because she had exercised me in patience to such an extent that one of the elder sisters had once said, “Sister Faustina must be either a fool or a saint, for truly, an ordinary person would not tolerate having someone constantly do such things out of spite.” However, I had always approached her with good will. That particular sister had tried to make my work more difficult to the point that, despite my efforts, she had sometimes succeeded in spoiling what had been well done, as she herself admitted to me at our parting, and for which she begged my pardon. I had not wanted to probe her intentions, but took it as a trial from God…

I am greatly surprised at how one can be so jealous. When I see someone else’s good, I rejoice at it as if it were mine. The joy of others is my joy, and the suffering of others is my suffering, for otherwise I would not dare to commune with the Lord Jesus. The spirit of Jesus is always simple, meek, sincere; all malice, envy, and unkindness disguised under a smile of good will are clever little devils.   ~   St. Faustina Kowalska, Entries 632-633, Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. 

          The minute I read that entry, I knew it was for me, there was no dodging it. And yet, I resolutely closed my door to it. I simply could not see myself acknowledging, much less thanking in my heart, the woman at work who’s making life so difficult for me. I could forgive, but to offer thanks for every piercing she had subjected me to, even in the hiddenness of my discernment, was asking too much of me. 

          That was for saints.

          It was beyond me and beyond God to expect that of me!

          But God being God, He is never encumbered by the many fences I erect against Him, neither does He allow Himself to be  confined within the paddocks of my pride and fear.

          God doesn’t give up either.  He would have me face His teaching squarely and bravely.

          After Mass by a visiting priest, I sought Father for Confession. And Jesus spoke through him.

          Father’s sermon that day had been about St. Bernadette Soubirous, the Lourdes seer. And now, he returned to it, beginning where the Lourdes apparitions  had come to an end, and Bernadette had sought the silence and hiddenness of convent life. There, she suffered under a Novice Mistress who could not see what God Himself had seen in His little Bernadette. As a result, Bernadette, more than any other novice, suffered deep humiliations and cruelty at her hands.

          And then, Fr gently pointed out:

          St. Bernadette did not become a saint because she saw  Mother Mary – but because she endured all her sufferings.

          Falling into quiet for a few seconds, the priest looked at me in an odd yet deeply gentle way, as if he was seeing me… and yet, as if he was looking through my eyes, into something else.

          Patience, he nodded presently, as if the answer had just been given him. You must be patient, he spoke again, telling me I needed to suffer what my colleague was doing to me, in order to attain heaven.

          Everything within me went still. Because I hadn’t said a word about my colleague to him. Fr was an outstation priest from another distant parish, filling in for our parish priest. There was no way he could have known.

          But Fr wasn’t done reading my heart. He went on to lift the veil on the reason for the attacks at work.

It is due to jealousy, he said.

          At his words, I saw before me, St. Faustina’s words in her diary entries about the attacks from the other nun. This time, they did not rebuff me. No barrier did I erect against the Voice that spoke through them, for the Shepherd’s staff is crooked for a purpose – to guide sheep bent on going elsewhere, through a gate, to the next pasture.

          God was now using His staff to tug me towards this new pasture, this world that Bernadette had come to know. To live in it in joy. In obedience.

In patience.

          God is telling me that the way forward is by keeping my eyes on the pasture, the here and now, not on the roads that lead from it. The here and now for me was to carry my Crosses the Bernadette Way, to give of myself to others – the Bernadette Way, and the Bernadette~patience I needed, to suffer in order to unfurl the mercy of the Eucharist, as far as God wants to send it out through me.

          Many years before, Jesus gave me my mission.

Wipe My Blood,

He had told me. Wipe My Blood. It had taken me many more years before I finally understood that it was a mission of reparation, to atone for the transgressions of others, even as I atoned for my many sins.

          And today, St. Bernadette, the humble, holy, hidden saint of Lourdes to whom the Mother of God appeared, has come to show me how to live in this new pasture:

          To live in the joy and freedom – of the Cross – not escape it.

          To live by keeping my eyes on the here and now. To perfect my suffering – in order to save souls.

          Someday, someday when I’ve finally reached the rainbow’s end, I will look back at the Crosses I’ve been given and my understanding will be complete. The day will come when I will no longer see those Crosses as hard, cruel and unbearable. Something to run away from, to be freed of.

          I will finally come to see each Cross of mine as the very Heart of Jesus that I’ve searched the world over for. The Heart of the Good Shepherd, for whom no suffering is too much to save even one soul.

          When that day comes, the rainbow will finally meet the earth.

          I will see.

          And I will rejoice.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Passover Begins

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          Today, the Passover begins. The Feast of Remembrance. Of Pilgrimage. Of Freedom.

It is the LORD’s Passover…This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD; you will celebrate it as a statute forever.   ~   Exodus 12: 11, 14

          For the first time, I mark this date in church and it brings me quiet satisfaction. Into the deep stillness and peace, I bring my pilgrim heart and its wanderings.

          My mind searches and finds the words to the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. I recite them as my heart traces Jesus’ final journey, from the sorrow of Gethsemane to the violent piercing of the Crucifixion. Into that journey, I press my own questions, my thoughts.

          I ask too for the freedom of the Holy Souls of Purgatory, for today, the dream of yesterday is before me. Yet, the eyes of my spirit are shifted elsewhere. Today, the dream tugs at me to seek freedom for the Poor Souls with an intensity I’ve not visited in so long. Suddenly, every other seeking dims against this.

Holy water, Precious Blood, wash their sins away.

          I think of my colleague in yesterday’s dream, stricken to an unearthly silence. I think of the boxes of memories and of the precious, never to be given again. Boxes and boxes of them, boxes formed from the mud of the earth. My heart still has not found the prayer for her but I am determined to pray for her. So, into His Wounds, I press her. Save her, Lord, I call to heaven.

          And then, I leave her and return to the Holy Souls and their painful wait.

          Soon, it is time to leave the church and begin the long, winding drive home. The skies watch but leave nothing for me. For a while I seek something for my heart. A message in the clouds, a tiny rainbow perhaps. But as quickly, I withdraw from that road. This year, I want to be dressed right, wearing the robe of humility, not of misplaced seeking.

          For it is the Feast of the Passover. Something is changing.

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the Angel

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          A brief weave of dreams early this morning. When I awakened, all I remembered was one part.

          It seemed to be my workplace but with so much more light and space, and a new lightness to it. I saw several small boxes, about the size of shoe boxes, all of them light brown, the same size. Perfect boxes. Each was tightly and neatly packed but not sealed.

On each and every box lid, neatly printed in fancy black writing, were the words

Thank you

Somehow, I immediately knew the words were for me, even as the boxes belonged to someone else.

          The boxes were open and I could see their contents. They seemed like books, yet, interiorly, I knew they were not. I also knew who those boxes belonged to – 

The boxes belonged to the colleague who has been giving me grief for so long.

          And the contents were memories and sweetness, everything from the past 20 years.

          Again, I somehow knew that the boxes were going with my colleague. Because she was going someplace – the moment I first saw those boxes, my surprised thought was,

Oh, she’s packed.

          It is just a dream and not all my dreams work out. Yes, I hope it means she is  leaving; because I’m no saint and nothing in me wants her to remain, not when you’re subject to something or other almost every single day.

          Yet, what troubles me is the boxes. Because I’ve seen those boxes before. Almost a year ago, I dreamt of a strange, dull place, of a bare house, no furnishings or decorations whatsoever. I entered that house, looking for someone even I didn’t know who, and my first thoughts were,

I hope she has packed.

          Hope as in wanting it to be so although at that time in the dream, I didn’t know who I was referring to.

           And by the door of that worn and somber house of my old dream, were hundreds of very small, mud brown boxes. Perfectly shaped, those were sealed and printed in neat, uniform black on each were either of 2 names,

Betty

Jobbiah

          And while I do not know who Jobbiah is, Betty was my cousin who had died many years before.

          Awakening from that dream, I remember knowing immediately that Betty was headed to some place better.

          But on this morning of a thousand memories, when my mind and heart are furthest from my colleague, from work even, when everything in me is wound around someone else, comes this next dream of boxes. Unlike the Betty~Jobbiah dream of last year, where I sensed both people going on to a more beautiful meadow, all I know this time is that my colleague is going to move on.

          I know not where she’s headed. I don’t know if it’s to a better place.

          Also, while Betty is no longer in this world, nothing of that sort was communicated to me in this new dream. Yet, something else lifts its head to me: in my dream today, I sensed a new, refined gentleness and a state of recollection about my workmate – something so unlike her.

Something not of this earth.

          I did not see this person but I could sense her amongst her boxes. She had none of the usual interest in the hum-and-pull of the office. It was as if she was there, – and yet she wasn’t.

          I don’t know what it means, except that it is a wee angel’s  unspoken words to me on this day when blooms and trees and little memories weave together to form what has been our life for so many years. It is a day I want to remember. And to forget. It is no ordinary day.

          And yet, this dream was given me on a day sacred to love, sacrifice and hope.

          As I gently ponder the dream, asking wordlessly, What do You ask of me, 2 things come to me.

This is a dream of an ending.

It comes on a day when as a family, we mourn an ending.

And celebrate a beginning.

          A dream on the day of the angel, who now mediates between those of us still here, and those on our way Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Forgive Myself

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O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach you while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

 

          3 years ago, I opened up about my work troubles, about 3 specific people, to a stranger. He had posted something on a forum earlier and when I read it, I had found strength to go on. So, I wrote to let him know and to thank him.

          Some months later, he wrote to me once more and told me about a St. Joseph novena he had said for workplace woes. It had brought amazing results for him. He had a feeling I would have need of it too.

          I certainly did. St Joseph had been coming to me in the days before so when I saw the prayer, I knew it was for me. I was in deep suffering then due to the 3 vicious bullies. So, I plunged myself into the St. Joseph prayer.

          At the end of the 9 day novena of it, I too received ‘results’. However, it was not the sunny outcome I had hoped for. Instead, something akin to satan’s whip lashed me and I suffered for it.

          But I experienced 3 miracles as a direct result of that novena. I saw my own sin and for the first time and acknowledged it. God gave me His strength to carry my cross of hurt and humiliation. Mother Mary came silently one morning and gave me hope.

Sight

Strength

Hope

          It’s been 3 years since that day. One of the three has been spectacularly removed from our company. It left behind 2 wound-ers – a superior and the other, a female colleague. For a while, despite the neverending woundings, life went on.

          But yesterday, I responded to a minor situation with the female colleague, in a way I’m not proud of. It was a small thing and yet, I wish I could have done things differently.

          I was upset with that person. I was now also upset with myself for my reaction. Worse, the incident brought back memories of rusted knives and forced me to face the towering mountain of old hurts caused by this woman. This is something I try not to revisit because the pain is bad and it makes my cross that much harder to bear.

          Yet, here it was again. And I wept at the seeming futility of it all. 20 years of suffering, almost a year of enduring this specific type of cruelty. And no end in sight. At the same time, so much learning on how to endure in Christian faith, so many prayers and yet I didn’t seem to be spiritually progressing. I wasn’t scaling the mountains before me. I was still stumbling over roots.

          Friday yesterday was supposed to be my Friday of atonement and reparation. God gave me one chance and I flubbed it spectacularly.

          I alternated between crying out to heaven and clubbing myself. I asked for the woman to be consoled. But I asked that no consolation be given me.

          Late at night, before turning in for the day, I went to my prayer nook.

          The grinning Angel was waiting with a prayer for me. It was the old St. Joseph prayer of 3 years ago.

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, …

          I was more than a little taken aback. What a time for this prayer to reappear, when  work is becoming a problem again.

          This morning, another Mother Mary Saturday, I beseeched Her aid but I didn’t know what I should be asking for. Reading the Readings of the day, I begged Her to speak to me through them. At the end, no breeze swept by my waiting heart.

          Undeterred, I went to my prayer nook for the prayer of the day.

          Imagine just how I felt to see the same St. Joseph prayer peeking back at me! In all my years of visiting this nook, I have never drawn the same prayer on consecutive days.

          Suddenly, I was alert. Something was up. To come on Friday and then Saturday, it was a sign for me that both Jesus and Mother Mary were asking for this prayer to be said. From the chest of millions of prayers, They were asking for this one.

          So, I recited it once more, sealing my heart to each line, yet not expecting anything beyond that I should be obedient to the call.

          And this time, this second time, my heart saw a line I did not quite see yesterday.

St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us.

          I didn’t know what to do, what to think.

          So, I rose and left the house to run some errands. It was a beautiful golden blue day, the gentle, sun~blessed breezes bringing sweet notes of birdsong to my heart. As I drove, happily watching the green trees run past, it became very clear just what I needed of Mary.

          Mother, take my sin of yesterday.

Take this garment of mine, the how’s and why’s of it.

Take it to Jesus.

Plead not on my behalf but let Jesus judge me fully and completely.

Then, bring me back His judgement.

Let it pierce me, really pierce me.

Let nothing stand between His Word and this piercing.

          I stood and waited.

          A tiny vine uncurled itself.

I forgive her.

          I did not even pause to think. Neither did I have to tie myself to it. Immediately, I said the prayer, the words coming  straight from my heart.

I forgive her

          I discerned no change in me. No light, no sunburst, no burden lightened. But like the passing green trees, I let it go, not pausing to seek a reward for praying. I forgive her, I said once more, ready to say it over and over.

          But before I could repeat it, the tiniest of roses, a pink one, misted before me.

I forgive myself