On a quiet day this week, just as a gentle dawn was rising from its east, I was sliced through my heart. I had a dream. In it, someone called me Widow.
I shot out of the dream in severe shock. The minute I awakened, I felt a wall come up between my present hour and the dream. For a long time, that has been God’s sign to me, marking the difference between a dream that is a warning and one that is a premonition of a coming, certain reality. Yet, this time, it gave me no comfort. I held my sleeping husband, weeping silently, begging God not to take him. But I couldn’t hold in the silent screams for long. A wild restlessness tore at me.
I rose and ran to God. Weeping and weeping, in deep fear, I gripped my Rosary and buried my torment in the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
For the sake of His Most Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Please, don’t take him, Lord, Please, don’t take him, Please, don’t take him.
All through the first decade of the chaplet, I pleaded and begged for my husband’s life to be spared. I distinctly heard voices from the side asking me what right did I have to ask not to be widowed when so many others had suffered this same grief. Did I think I was so special that I could choose my Crosses?
Even in that mind-numbing sorrow of what I saw in the dream, guilt taunted me. Was I rejecting a Cross God wanted me to suffer for His sake?
Who was I to think I did not deserve that suffering? asked the voices.
Then, somber, old lights began to stream before me. Memories of odd happenings recently – all related to marriage and family. Things I hadn’t understood. Things that had worried me. Did they all portend this terrible, terrible grief?
Fear rose like a black storm and began to violently pound my heart.
Desperately, I clung tighter to the Chaplet prayers. Then, I saw the millions of times I had sought to save my own peace and left my husband to his struggles. The times I had little patience for him. The times, uncountable number of times, I had taken his love and sacrifices for granted. And now, that love was going to be taken away forever.
I repent. I repent. I repent.
Forgive me, O Lord, I have sinned, I sobbed to my God who had given me the greatest gem in the man I had married so many years ago. A man I loved with all my heart, yet took for granted as deeply too.
Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet before the Miraculous Image on my wall, praying it like one demented with fear and grief and remorse, I went into the second decade.
At the tenth, a personal sign, these words streamed before me ~
The Illumination of Conscience
That precise moment the words unfurled, the black wave of fear receded. In its wake, a sudden stillness.
I raised my head and looked at the Miraculous Image before me.
Was this what this was about? The Illumination of Conscience. The Warning. I thought of the unknown, unseen feminine voice I had heard in the midst of a Rosary a year ago – The event of the Warning will begin with the Annunciation. I was not told the year, but I recalled how I had forgotten the Feast of the Annunciation this year, only to be reminded of it by angels. On and on their bells had tinkled until I took notice and asked why. Why was I reminded? Was it merely to observe the Feast?
Or was it because, as the voice had spoken, it heralded the beginning of the falling of a Luminescence beyond words – into hearts?
In a way I cannot explain, terrible, horrendous though my morning dream and subsequent suffering was, I just knew that was merely the first rays of that Day of the Sun. The first rays – and yet the nails that tore at me were severe beyond words.
As I sat, stilled and in thought, in that unlit pool of revelation, no relief flooded through me. It was as if my frightened spirit had moved beyond that primal seeking. Comfort didn’t matter anymore. Instead, every part of me stared at my sin of ingratitude.
Slowly, stealthily, I sensed a stirring from the side. Other memories sidled into my consciousness. Voices from the past. Warnings to be financially prepared. The naming of beneficiaries. Writing of wills.
I turned my gaze away from my sin and looked to my side.
Suddenly, suddenly, the black tempest of minutes before tore back into place, wrenching and spinning my heart in widening circles of freezing, choking fear. Gone was the stillness of the tenth. Gone was the calm. In its place, the madness that only abject fear can invoke.
It was the ravaging of sanity that comes when we take our eyes off the Cross.
I reared back, stunned. My spirit stared at the two contrasts – my inner state as I stood by the Cross and wept over my sins. And the other – when I turned and moved away from the Cross.
I knew immediately that the practical preparedness of putting our combined finances in order – which seemed so right – was wrong. It was right, it had to be done, but it was NOT what God wanted me to keep my gaze on now. And yet, it was what the voices from the side were calling me to.
Immediately, I wrenched back the eyes of my spirit from the side it was distracted to. I returned to my rightful post – by the streams of remorse and repentance. Here, despite the crushing pain over my falls, I did not feel as if I was being whipped and flung around in an unstable vortex.
I held my rose~beads resolutely once more, determined to face His Light and have it burn away my ingratitude for the gift of my husband. As I begged God for forgiveness, God placed other sins before me. He showed me the dark extents I had allowed my anger when hurt to stream out into.
He made me face the very many times I had wished the same pain of loss I had suffered upon those I had tried to love but who had hurt me when I had done no wrong to them.
God placed face after face of my victims before me. Those who had knifed me when I was at my lowest. Those whom I had wished would come to know the same sorrow that had pierced my own soul ten years ago, and to know the violence of that grief to its fullness. I had wished this upon others despite knowing it by its name – REVENGE. I had wished it not out of mere spite. Not because I couldn’t bear their joy while I walked the valley of grief; I had wished it so they would weep as I did.
And so, stop hurting me.
But in the eyes of God, that didn’t change the name of my sin. That others had struck me first. That I was merely reacting to their wounding. It didn’t mellow its stain on my soul. It remained as REVENGE.
As He unmasked the dark inside me, I heard the words of my dream again, saw the reel rewind and play back. But this time, I felt the pain I had wished upon others.
How terrible that pain felt when it befell me.
In my anguish at what I saw, I felt God was not unmasking enough. And so, I went within deeper, uncovering more and more victims of my particular anger. It was as if I was baring all to God, saying to Him – There are more, there are more!
I’ve always struggled with an entire chaplet of the Divine Mercy prayed in one sitting but this morning, I went through two. Suddenly, nothing was too little or too difficult for expiation of sin when I was given a taste of the agony I wanted others to feel.
The bitter morning dream had come on the last day of my novena to St Joseph – to plead that my heart – and the hearts of all I carry within mine – be prepared for the Illumination of Conscience. The dream was St Joseph’s answer to my prayers. But it was not a gentle answer from the Gentle Spouse of Mary. The dream felt like a spear through my heart. Because no other gentler means would have wrought this vital repentance.
I now repent, heart and soul, for what I have done to others in the secret of my heart.
I repent for the times I led others down the dark path by my example of anger.
And I repent of the way I treated my beloved husband.
Because of the dream, life will never be the same again. There will now be a shadow where there was none before. I will henceforth always look to coming hours with fear. I will fear delays. Fear the unanswered calls. Anything which separates my husband and I, even the most innocuous, will be a steel band that cuts into my heart.
I will fear if everything is the last of lasts.
Becoming a widow is no longer something I can block out. It will from now become the shadow that follows me everywhere. But I know I am not called to mere fear. That is a call that comes from the side. That is distraction. Even if the ice of dread manacles my heart from this day on, I am called to a different vigil to await the Illumination of Conscience.
For by this dream, I have been given a foretaste of God’s judgment of my sins in the coming Illumination. My place is by the Cross of remorse.
My vigil has begun. My vigil is that of Repentance.