The spouse of Christ who longs to become perfect must begin with her own self. She must put aside, forget everything else, and enter into the secrecy of her own heart. When she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins. She must weigh everything carefully, and make a thorough examination of past and present. Should she discover even the least imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of her heart. ~ St. Bonaventure
I heard the words, Spouse of Christ, yesterday. Unfortunately, there was no time to follow the words into the woods of discernment. No scant minute to even seek the Lord’s will for me for Lent. Each week is more brutal than the one before. The workload is crushing. I can see that I’m getting a lot done; yet, there is no sense of achievement. Neither time nor strength to revel, even for a while. Deadline after deadline. Hurdle after hurdle. Rushing from one assignment to the next, my memory leaks worse than a sieve.
Due to the extremeness of the week, the waters of my heart were choppy and roaring. I could not seem to settle into peace and inner quiet. A trip to the stores late in the evening yesterday found me agitated, restless and dispirited. I left the store empty-handed, unable to recall what I needed to buy. I was so tired. I was also worried about a major event scheduled for the coming week.
For some reason, I kept seeing those words before me all day. Nearly 2 years ago, the same words kept coming to me. Go indoors was a warning then. To return to serving and focusing on my family – not because they were in some danger – but because I needed the mantle of the family to see me through a cruel attack at work.
This time, as I rushed from end to end from morn till evening, Go indoors kept knocking at the door of my heart.
Driving home, I ran the day through my mind. On the outside, everything seemed calm and normal; yet, inside, I felt something within me was spinning out of control and getting worse. Knowing I couldn’t go on this way, I took my mutinous will with a firm hand. Once home from the store, I went straight to dinner preparations. As the stove busied, I settled the laundry for the day, helped the kids with their studies.
They weren’t earth-moving actions. But they possessed a power.
Suddenly, from being flung around in the vortex of madness and work overdrive, I fell to the ground, calm and steady once more. Late that night, with most of the family in bed, unable to chip away at tasks for next week, I reached for my gift book instead, Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams. It had been so long since I read anything late at night but I did this night, and I was glad for it.
The words in the book steered my heart towards winter branches awaiting spring.
The next morning, something else was waiting. A commenter had written this in my previous post, “I find him (God) best in solitude and open space…” And the words, open space had twinkled up at me like a bright blue star in the dark swathes of sky.
So, coming to the morning of Mary, I too sought open space.
For some reason, despite the imperious ticking of the clock, I wanted to know how a nightingale sounded. Finding a video of it, I played its song over and over. From there, I explored other bird sounds. And slowly, a gentleness began to ribbon itself around me.
A tiny rosebud of a miracle then unfolded. Despite the very busy day ahead, it seemed as if several layers of my ears were opened up. Even as I scurried about, I could hear many different birdsongs as they laced the gold~blue morning air. I was suddenly functioning on two levels, busy yet alert to Nature.
Then, a second rose of a miracle bloomed.
For the event next week, I had to approach some people for help. Always being someone who preferred shadows and backseats, I was not looking forwards to it. In addition, we were short of funds. I cringed at the idea of seeking donations from our usual donors, knowing that some could make it unpleasant for me. I didn’t mind humbling myself if it would yield something good. But I drew the line at licking the floor merely as entertainment for some.
Praying to St. Joseph from days before, I knew it was his idea when he whispered to me names of possible new donors whom I hadn’t considered before. Nervously, I made contact and bashfully sought help, giving everyone an escape avenue so that they didn’t feel pressured to commit.
Ask anyone in the know and they’d tell you this was not the way to go.
Miraculously, every person and company I approached agreed to give – and cheerily at that! I skipped and skipped all the way home, to the serenade of birdsongs in hidden nests.
It was in the quietness of that happy relief that I once more saw the words, Spouse of Christ. Surprised, this time, I realised that Someone was calling me – and calling out a message.
The spouse of Christ who longs to become perfect must begin with her own self. She must put aside, forget everything else, and enter into the secrecy of her own heart. When she has done this, let her sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins. She must weigh everything carefully, and make a thorough examination of past and present. Should she discover even the least imperfection, let her weep in the bitterness of her heart.
Let her weep in the bitterness of her heart. Over and over, through the busyness of the days and weeks, the Holy Spirit had been urging me towards inner silence. He led me back first to the needs of my family, then to the tiny birds who live and sing for God. When I had obeyed, through St. Joseph, He worked all those miracles – slowly quietening the anxieties in my heart.
There were still streams to wade through and canyons to be crossed. But the Spirit of God saw much further, and He wanted me to be quiet enough to see it too.
put aside, forget everything else,
sift narrowly all her weaknesses, habits, affections, actions and sins
make a thorough examination of past and present
weep in the bitterness of her heart
The call to Lent.