Month: July 2022

Only in Dying

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In dying that we are born to eternal life.   

~   from Make Me A Channel of Your Peace, St. Francis Prayer

          I asked my angel for a prayer for today. It didn’t come immediately but a few minutes later, when I had forgotten about my asking. I heard the strains of an old hymn from the deepest part of me. Although the hymn was very familiar, I had to lean in and listen closely in order to identify it.

          As always, with anything long, I asked for the part God meant for my heart.

          In immediate gentleness, the light was shone,

In dying that we are born to eternal life

          Then, I saw what I had never seen before. That in every act that we choose God over the world, no matter how small that act is, we die to all that is wrong. We die to all the world sets out before us in allure.

          Yet, despite the seeming smallness of that death, we make another step towards the only Life that matters, towards Light eternal.

Take Time For Yourself

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          God must have known this was coming. In the short days since He sent his messenger, St. Paul of the Cross to tell me to

Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her

I have been a bit more mindful of not raking in dust and dirt into my soul lest I render myself deaf to the soft voice from heaven. Still, there’s only so much one can do to remember to close the door each time to some of the stuff the winds of life can blow into us.

          Late in the afternoon today, tired from work and the never ending deadlines, I told God once more that I’d really, really like to hear from Him, to be moved by His voice in my heart. It was a very hot afternoon, the winds were blowing about. While that did little for the heat, with the swish of the winds through the tree leaves, an unexpected hush stole into my heart.

          The later hours of the day came with the humid promise of rain. Alas, aside from a few drops, the silver rains took their blessings elsewhere. But I had scant time to sulk, for there was dinner to see to and some more work to be done before I turned in for the day.

          After I was done, I remembered I had not had the time to complete my reading of Susan Branch’s latest post, so to it I went and absorbed myself for a time in patches of poetry, quotes and verses, photos and gorgeous illustrations, all quilted together in a lovely celebration of life and living. Although it left me longing for the beauty and quiet of serene places, a languid gentleness nonetheless pooled into my heart.

          Then came 4 little words, and Someone pressed my spirit to alertness,

Take Time For Yourself

In this life, where the world owns so much of me – and is yet far from satiated, I must somehow find a way to cast out into deep, go to where the voices of life will dull and fall into quiet, till they are unheard.

For only when I take time for myself, will I hear Him.

          What a sweetly delicious way to enter the Heart of God.

That You May Hear Him

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Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her.   ~  St. Paul of the Cross

          Sometime last week, there was a day when I told Jesus I’d like to hear Him speak directly to me. Shortly after came the verse,

Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak to her heart.~  Hosea 2:16

Right after, came the news of my colleague’s promotion, followed by the huge rainbow signifying hope the next day, and on the third day, came the Miracle. Later, pondering the verse from Hosea, I wondered if the “wilderness” mentioned there pertained to those 3 days.

          Still something else from Hosea 2:16 remained with me, like the soft, fleeting evening fragrance of roses seeing the last of the waning sunshine,

I will speak to her heart…

          Today, the quote of the day for me was from a saint I’m not particularly fond of: St Paul of the Cross. In the past, whenever he has spoken to me, he has told me things I didn’t like hearing. He bursts my bubble on days when I feel light and happy. In some ways, he’s like the string on my kite, constantly tugging me down to earth when I’d rather soar high up in the gold~tossed skies.

          But today, he had something different for me.

Leave your soul free to take her flight to the Sovereign Good as God shall guide her. 

          On a day when I’ve been so happy at home, cooking, gardening, studying, writing and just enjoying my husband and children, St. Paul of the Cross comes by to tell me not to clutter up my soul but to leave it free to soar. With his words, come others, familiar little feathers floating in on the quiet sunset breezes,

Keep away from toxic people

Do not waver

Take back your rest

Each one a tender nugget tucked into my heart by those who love me, on this earth as well as beyond earthly shores.

          This is the way, they say.

          To stay free.

          That you may hear Him.

The Seas Turn

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          Two days ago, I received some upsetting news. A colleague who has made life hell for me for some years now had been appointed to a senior position. Even being just one of us, the poison of jealousy she carried within her has wounded me and many others too. Now, with the promotion given to her, it was as if a fully loaded gun had been put into her hands, and we had become sitting ducks, with no one to speak up for us, to protect us from further unfairness and even worse bullying.

          I felt betrayed. Even though there is no such thing as being deceived by God, it was impossible not to feel let down by heaven. I felt as if all the messages and words from heaven given to me were a sham. Yet, knowing that could not be true even if it sure felt that way, I went before God and bared my heart to Him.

          Why did You give me hope if it was going to come to this? I asked. Why tell me a new life was coming if that new life was just another hell?

          Just then, my husband needed to go to the store to pick up something and I decided to go with him to clear my mind; but not done with God, I remained in the car as my husband ran into the store.

I need your suffering. Would you deny Me this, asked Jesus, just as I was about to get started again.

          I groaned. I felt God was asking just too much. Still, I tried to pray. As I was about to search for a prayer, someone slipped a line into my mind.

Thy will be done

          Not in a million years, and with the news I had just received about my colleague, would I have sought that prayer. But someone clearly felt it was the prayer for my moment.

          Thy will be done, I prayed numbly and resignedly, for nothing in me wanted this Cross.

          My husband was taking longer than expected. Staring out of the windscreen at the dark skies, a distant memory came to me – a journey God had taken me on some years ago with the Bible verse,

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You,

with Your great power free those doomed to death. ~ Psalm 79:11

          At that time, God had let me see that a bully from work was actually a prisoner. Slowly, He had moved me to pray for this person. Although it was so hard, solely by the grace of heaven, I somehow managed to.

          More shoppers were arriving now, parking their cars in the lots around me. Vehicle doors were being slammed shut, trolleys were being pushed across the road. But inside the car, I was on a journey. Today, I am that prisoner, Lord, I whispered in my heart. I am trapped in a place I cannot leave, with no option to resign because we need the money. People were getting into their cars and driving away. Mothers, fathers, children. Let my sighing come before You. I am doomed to death, so free me.

          Just then, it struck me that July was the month of the Precious Blood of Christ. Years before, in a mystical moment in church, God had taught me a powerful prayer,

Replace my blood with Yours

In the ensuing years, I’ve prayed that conversion prayer many, many times – for those who have hurt me – and for myself as well, because in times of anger and suffering, pride can sometimes blind you to the truth of who you truly are, making you believe that your sins are not as bad as the sins of those who are hurting you.

          So, in the car, I reached for that prayer once more.

Replace her blood with Yours, I prayed for my colleague.

Replace my blood with Yours, I prayed for myself.

          But, oddly, this time the prayers didn’t sit right. And immediately, I knew why: I was not being open and honest with God. I was praying – but from behind the wall of my hurt and fear.

          So, I lunged out into the open fields before God’s eyes, and prayed a prayer  wrenched from the depths of my pain.

I bind her to Thy Precious Blood!

Bind her so she can do no harm to anyone any more!

          Suddenly, something shifted. I felt the prayer shoot upwards like a fire arrow and pierce its heavenly mark. At the same time, I myself was pierced by a sudden and heartfelt humility, that as much as my colleague could wound and maim others, so could I, so both she and I needed His Precious Blood.

I bind myself to Thy Precious Blood. Bind me so I can harm no one.

          That night, I slept deeply and beautifully. Rising the next day, no burden remained inside me. None of the fear or anger. None of the immense hurt this colleague has knifed into me. My inner house had been cleared.

          The next day, I reached for the same prayer again. But the power was gone. Where before I had felt the prayer was received by heaven, this time, all was still and quiet. Interiorly, I sensed that the time for this particular prayer had passed. In peace, I surrendered my seeking, knowing that if there was another prayer to be prayed from the heart, God would send it to me.

          That evening, a massive rainbow arc formed across the eastern skies and my heart thrilled to its moving luminosity.

Hope on, the skies seemed to call out.

          Today, at my altar at dawn, on Illumination Thursday, I prayed for a miracle as I always do. Except that this time, I was not specific. I realised that I didn’t know what exact miracle to pray for. Nevertheless, I looked up at the Crucifix on the wall.

Give us the miracle we need, I prayed and left.

          Just before 12pm, the earth shifted. This colleague came up to my table, the first time in 4 years. With a gentleness not seen in 4 years, she placed some documents before me. In an unbelievably gentle voice, she told me what she needed from me and that I could see her whenever I needed.

          When I am stunned, I either lose my ability to speak or I do something stupid and clumsy. But this time, something took over, coming over me and and leading my voice out. I quietly congratulated my colleague on her promotion. At this, tears came to her eyes and her voice caught in her throat as she gave a small laugh at what she had received unasked. We both knew that promotion or not, it was a job she did not want and which she possibly hated but that she had no choice.

          I will likely never know why the seas shifted within her, why now and not before. But I do know that just when it seemed all was lost and that life was set to plunge into darker depths, through a massive and unbelievable Thursday miracle, the Precious Blood of Jesus has set us both free to start over.

          I will never be the friend and kindred spirit I was to her before. Even with complete forgiveness, I have seen and felt the side to her which seals any door to real friendship. That time in the past when we were closest friends and laughing mates has passed and we have both moved on. Some things lost can never be regained – and should not be sought.

        Yet, it was a miracle that turned the seas today and freed us both.

        A miracle wrought by the Precious and miraculous Blood of Jesus who died so that sinners might be saved.

Take Back Your Rest

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Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush alive with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes.   ~  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

          A conversation I had with a friend from work today lit a flame of thoughts in my head. We had been talking about how work could intrude so insidiously into our home and personal lives when I felt called to share with her an unpleasant experience of being pushed to the very edge of sanity by excessive work demands and no effective outlet to vent off that pressure. Imagine my pained surprise when my friend narrated a similar experience. It underscored just how much we were having to endure at our workplace. We talked some more. Soon, I had to leave her company to attend to some tasks.

          But something from our shared experiences followed me home.

          In the evening, for the first time in more than 2 weeks, I found the heart to go into my garden, even if it was for scant minutes. Work having been so incredibly intense in June took so much out of me. These past weeks, I woke up in the dark of dawn and went to bed each night with lists in my head that left little room for anything else. But the work crush ended for a bit today, and knowing that gave me no small measure of relief and delight. Hence, the late evening scurry into the garden to check on some plants.

          As I wet the sun scorched earth to ease the night time sleep of my valiant plants, the smell of awakened soil went deep into me, and I realised how much I needed this aspect of healing and rejuvenation. How much of it work takes from me, from us all. It also took me back to the conversation earlier in the day, and the final words I had shared with my agonized friend,

Take back your rest

          Take it back from those who know nothing of the need and beauty of cutting out work after office hours. Take it back from those who think that just because they pay our salaries, that they own us as well.

Take it back from those who know well that rest is important yet grant themselves that gift by denying us ours.

          And with that, I gazed up at the evening sky, blue and orange sweeps lingering in the west, reluctant to let go of the day whose hours were close to ending. With June gone to its eternal sleep, I had been wondering about July and what it might hold. A month of memories of loss and grief, it is a month I endure more than I live it.

          But now I wonder if my angel has come, as he always does, quietly hidden in the breaths of peaceful breezes and fading sunset flowers. Come to tell me that July is the month of journeying into meadows which offer repose, to intentionally seek the quiet deeps where heaven rests, lying in wait for searching hearts.

          Because to find those pockets of heaven and to sink my heart into them is to take back my rightful rest.