Faith

Geese in the Water

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Who in my land can ever forget the week that was, from the 19th to the 24th of November 2022?

          A week of learning the earth-moving lesson that when the call to radical trust comes, one must walk blind. One must pray with the communion of saints for it will be almost impossible to hold on to prayer when the winds are tearing at you, and you will need the saints’ help. One must hope against hope, even as each passing hour brings news upon news, shattering and shattering everything within us.

A week that taught me that when we cross the Jordan, it is the tearing winds that we must beware.

          For these are winds fed by an evil that abhors peace and hope. Each time we give up and give in to disappointment, we feed satan. And each time we feed satan, he raises the winds in violence against us, dashing us upon rocks, till we are no more.

Never feed satan, our angel lays the quiet caution into our hearts.

          Oh, what a week! And the blessed angel led the way forward. Against the winds. Out of the gathering darkness.

          We have crossed the Jordan to safety now, we have finally reached the shores. From days of the most violent of tumults to utter, absolute joy! Spring in Winter. As I close my eyes to draw breath, the old, old words from years back find me once more,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest     St. Mary of Egypt

          How true!

         And now, il dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing, St. Pio reminds me, his voice the freshness of spring in the gathering of winter’s cold.

          Rest? But there’s so much to do.

          And then, I see.

          The geese are in the water now.

          It is indeed time to rest.

Hold Your Eyes

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Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.   ~  St. Jane Frances de Chantal

          I’ve not heard from my Lord for some days now. For most of the past week, work had yet again encroached past personal boundaries. While it hadn’t stirred up the usual ruckus within me, it certainly rendered me deeply exhausted. Despite many entreaties to heaven, there was little sign of an easing. How are we to go on? I must have asked that question so many, many times.

          This morning, gentle rains silver~pearl the early hours. Yet, despite the falling wet, the birds sing their myriad songs undeterred. Closest to me, somewhere in the deeps of our trees, two turtledoves trade throaty warbles in a steady rhythm against the heavenly benediction. Tracing the Sign of the Cross over both my ears, I pray, Let me hear Thy voice.

          In quick answer, comes this, from a saint I’ve never before sought, the Patron saint of rejected women.

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.

Lent 18 ~ He Will Give Strength

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          As I was about to receive Holy Communion, our Lord told me that He would come Himself to imprint on my heart the mystical life which He leads in the Holy Eucharist, a life entirely hidden and annihilated in the eyes of men, a life of sacrifice and seeming inactivity. He added that He would Himself give me the strength to do what He required of me.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          Today comes this quote from a saint who has become my work and study companion. She comes just after I prayed for strength to make it through the mountains and deserts, the hills and the valleys, the ups and downs of life.

He will give me strength

          I ask this of heaven for all of us here, for those whom I love and hold in my heart, young and old. We all have our crosses and some days, they will weigh more than other days, perhaps asking more than we can give.

          May He Himself then come, and give us all the strength to do what He asks of us.

Lent 8 ~ Leave It With Him

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And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him.   St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Walk On Water

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          Skipping happily to my day at home this quiet November morn, I heard from within me the strains of a new song, Wherever You Lead by Kristene DiMarco. Leaning in, I tried to make out the words, seeking what God had willed for me. But the words, the lyrics, slipped out of my seeking reach.

          I was not in the least troubled. This morning, stopping by my altar, I had told Jesus I wished to offer up my days as a prayer of thanksgiving and also as a prayer for the Holy Souls, for this is November, when Catholics pray in a deeper way for those who have departed. I have three days off work. Linking up to the weekend, I have five glorious days and I am determined to live them right, in joy and thanksgiving, and may anything of worth from my days be gifted to my precious friends, the Holy Souls of Purgatory. How great their love for me has been and still is, this tender generosity of spirit of these saints-in-waiting. How many times they have warned me of danger, saved me from the rising creek. How many times, when the roads have been so dark, they have sung God’s leading to me, and with their voices in my ear, I have made my way from pain to joy.

          Everything of my November for them, I vowed.

          And then I busied myself with happy things. A small plot in my garden had been dug up and was now waiting for some new occupants. The original pot of dearly treasured Egyptian Starflowers which I had bought during one happy visit to the garden centre earlier in the year needed a new home. An attempt at a transplant some months before had initially disappointed me; I felt the new plant-babies didn’t take to their new dwellings and that I would soon lose them. Two other new plants I was trying out then, the Blue China and the Everlastings, had failed. Against the anguished backdrop of all that was going on in our lives, I had felt the sting of those garden failures deeply.

          But I refused to give up. I kept on watering and feeding the starflowers, coaxing them to fight to live on. In some ways, I think I saw our fates as intertwined; if they died, I did too. If they lived, so would I. For long weeks, it seemed a lost cause. Then, in a sudden turn of tides, the Egyptian Starflowers rallied back. Somehow, hope had reached their roots. With each passing week, they began to grow stronger and soon lushly flourished with grace, health and utter beauty. Every day, I visited them. The flowers would happily cluster together and gaze up at me, as if willing me to believe in miracles. That anything was possible.

          Today, it was time to build yet another home, a bigger home, for the starblooms. Then, I had some reading and writing to get done for the course I had enrolled in. Joy rose in delicious curls within me.

          Soon, into the quiet of that peace, God’s word gently slipped in. It was clear and precise.

Walk on water

          Everything stilled within me. Walk on water. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Do what seems impossible.

          Courage has never been an arrow in my quiver. I am easily scared and I am afraid of so many things. If I am ever emboldened, it is only by virtue of love; only love for someone can propel me forwards and out into the storm and into the darkness.

Walk on water

          What impossibility is God calling me to? Still battered and bleeding from the violence and abuse only dark hearts know how to inflict, all I wanted now was to curl up away from the eyes of the world. I wanted us, my family and I, to become unseen and unknown, to slip past human knowing invisibly, for to be seen was to ask to be hurt and harmed. Let down by family, by friends and even by Church authorities, the illumination of October has been shocking and brutal. It seems as if those who claim to love do not even know what it truly means and entails.

          Drained and exhausted, all I wanted was for us to be left alone. Yes, to remain in the cave of God’s holy mountain but beyond that, freed from even His call. Instead, last week, He sent His Word,

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Prepare

         I saw the word appear 4 times. I was alert. 4 was the sign of the times. First of Covid-19 and the pandemic; and now, the vaccines and the vaccine passports. What do I prepare for? How do I prepare? I had asked Him back in return. By His heart to wait, I then sent my angel, charging him to not return till God gives the word.

          My angel returned presently, bearing the reply,

Forgive

          So, in obedience, from my mind, I said the words, I forgive. Not from my heart, for so wounded was it that I felt no real forgiveness could be summoned from it. I forgive, I said mechanically, over and over, that old week of October.

          And then, a strange vine was laid upon my heart. I release you from my debt. It was an odd turn of phrase, unfamiliar, nothing I had ever prayed before. Nevertheless, I bound it to my own prayer.

I forgive you. From my debt, I release you.

          Name after name, person after person, I called to mind. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you.

          Nothing changed in my heart and I wondered what good was such a prayer prayed from a heart hardened by hurt and sorrow. But something within me remained undefeated. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you. Slowly, veiled by mists, my heart turned. I forgive you. From my debt, I release you. Slowly, softly at first, the prayer took gentle root in my heart. Then, it began to come forth with a new vigour.

          Just like my starflowers. And then, each time I prayed the prayer, it yielded with nary a trace of reluctance.

          Now, today, 4 days since joy began to unfurl anew in my heart comes the new call,

Walk on water

          Do the impossible.

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