Faith

Lent 28 ~ They Forgot

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They forgot the God who had saved them

  they did not believe the promise.

they did not heed the voice of the Lord   ~   Psalm 106: 21

 

 

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Lent 17 ~ A Single Wave

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We must be continually upon our guard, for we are engaged in a perpetual war; unless we take care, the enemy will surprise us, when we are least aware of him. A ship sometimes passes safe through hurricanes and tempests, yet, if the pilot, even in a calm, has not a great care of it, a single wave, raised by a sudden gust, may sink her. It does not signify whether the enemy clambers in by the window, or whether all at once he shakes the foundation, if at last he destroys the house. In this life we sail, as it were, in an unknown sea. We meet with rocks, shelves, and sands; sometimes we are becalmed, and at other times we find ourselves tossed and buffeted by a storm. Thus we are never secure, never out of danger; and, if we fall asleep, are sure to perish.   ~   St. Syncletica

 

          Growing up with a mother who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned the lesson of a single deadly wave from early childhood. I lived and breathed in singular fear of someone so consumed by herself and her wants, because all it would take for my day to go from gold to black would be a single wave.

          But while I am no longer called to this fear, I am called to vigilance against the thieves of faith. I need to be vigilant with myself, with my family.

          And with all those who come to our gates. For the thief never announces his arrival nor his tools. He strikes at will.

          The eyes in my head can only do so much. The vigilance needed for the times we are in is different, far deeper than ever known. I cannot be sure that I have all the gates covered, I cannot be sure that I know the shape and form a thief may take. To possess confidence in my abilities to guard and detect danger – even while I proclaim otherwise – is to be surely struck down by that single wave because pride makes for a weak gate-lock.

          The calls to Adoration, to rest, that I have been hearing this Lent, are the bells that chime telling me to seek humility through the resting of my will – because it is humility that will make me seek the Supreme Guard of Gates – Jesus. It is humility that will allow me to let down my guard and let Jesus in. It is only humility that will allow me to allow Jesus to guard my gates.

          We have a most intelligent and experienced pilot at the helm of our vessel even Jesus Christ himself, who will conduct us safe into the haven of salvation if, by our supineness, we cause not our own perdition.   ~   St. Syncletica

 

 

Little One

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          I am one of those who strongly believes in the power of the Rosary and yet struggle mightily to recite it daily. It is the simple issue of lack of discipline. But I know my family and I are intrinsically  bound to the Rosary.

          Reciting the Rosary as a family has been a struggle since years and years before, perhaps worse back then because the kids were younger and a lot harder to handle and I myself wasn’t in a good place –  emotionally,  mentally and spiritually.

          But if I thought those were hard times, worse was yet to come. One day, a knife cut through my soul. I knew I was going to fall but I no longer really cared. If I lived at all, it was only for my husband and children. A lot of life didn’t matter much anymore.

          At that point in time, I had in my possession, a rosary made from small sandalwood beads. It was a child’s rosary, gifted to me by someone  I didn’t particularly like, who couldn’t differentiate between a child’s rosary and an adult’s. I had received that sandalwood rosary during a Christmas visit – which meant shutting my mouth and swallowing any remarks I would have made otherwise.  As I already had a pretty, gold rosary which I had received when I was a child, this little new rosary was made into my ‘spare rosary’ – its smallness made it handy to have around when I was travelling.

          Years later, I faced the worst test of my life. I struggled with a dark I have never before been seared by. Oftentimes, it felt as if I would drown and never live again. I was far from home, facing a severe darkness and all I had with me was the little brown rosary. I held it tight and prayed incoherent prayers and hoped God had heard me.

          One day, I had to travel even further away. In the rush and worry and fear at that time, I misplaced the little rosary. I went to my Gethsamane without my beads. Although my relatives visited me at that time, I didn’t mention this, so no one knew. I didn’t feel like asking any one of them to get me another rosary either. I just didn’t want to receive a rosary in this way.

          It was at this time that an old aunt, very close to God, visited me and placed a white~bead rosary in my palm. It was the heaviest Rosary beads I have ever held, yet there was a strange comfort in the polished smooth heaviness of it. She told me she had bought it on a pilgrimage to India when she herself had been close to death a long time before. But she had come back to life. I knew she devoutly said the Rosary every day. Through joy, illness, heartbreak or even worry, this simple woman with a heart of gold recited the Rosary every single day.

          Yet, my aunt never told me to pray. She didn’t blithely tell me to say the Rosary and that all would be well. She just placed the rosary in my palm and with her eyes, willed me to hope on.

          That lonely night, when my aunt and everyone had returned home leaving me to face my sorrows and fears alone, I gripped my old aunt’s rose~beads and went in weeping search of Mother Mary. For many weeks after that, through highs of hopes and lows of shatterings and piercings, I held on to those smooth, white beads for life. Some days I could pray the Rosary. Often I couldn’t. But every day, often more than once a day, I tightly gripped those beads as I screamed and wept and that was the only prayer I could muster.

          Then, one night, my family and I were in the car. For a brief moment, a strength out of nowhere surged through me, and I began to speak about how great and good God was. I had just faced the worst test of my life and more was to come. The waters were still churning around me. I was by no means healed and safe. Yet, with that strange power coursing though me in the dark car, I began to speak about the greatness of a God who had just given me the worst Cross ever.

          I cannot recall what exactly I said but I know these were my ending words in the dark:

We had to go through all of this in order to return to the Rosary again.

          No sooner had the words left my mouth when my toddler son exclaimed that he had found something. He placed it in my open palm.

          I didn’t need any light to tell me what he had found. Even in the dark confines of the car, the minute I felt it, I knew he had found the small sandalwood Rosary given to me five Christmases ago. The very same one I had left in the car that hurried, harried day and forgotten about. Left it in a car I had cleaned thoroughly many, many times, and yet, never came across.

          The moment the eyes of my heart saw how we had to be taken through flood and fire to return to the refuge of the Rosary, the moment I proclaimed this truth to the others with us that night, an Unseen hand had brought back the small beads. I barely thought of the person who had given me the rosary; that was not important.

          What shone through was that a child had given me the rosaryThe child was now pointing me towards something in the Rosary.

          And so began another chapter of our lives. Through the valley of death we walked, my husband, my children and I. We held each other up. We leaned against each other. In joy and in tears, we walked through the weave of years upon years. We didn’t always know what we were doing. We didn’t always do the right things. But we tried to recite the Rosary every day. Sometimes we could, sometimes, we failed. But again and again and again, we got up and went to it.

          Since the sandalwood rosary returned to me, all my rosaries for years since then were recited using it. Yet, I always kept my old aunt’s gift of white beads with me, in memory of her steadfast love for God and for me.

          But close to decade later, more than a year back, the small sandalwood rosary began to ‘slip away’ from me. Every time I reached for it, I’d see the white beads and I’d feel a longing for them mist over my heart instead. If I ignored this and took up the brown beads, I’d sense something amiss but I could never understand it. After several times, sensing something was at work, I stopped fighting it, and switched rosaries. But I kept the ‘little one’ beside me each time.

          One day, little one went missing. I was not perturbed, though. I just knew it would come back. For some reason, my Rosary had to be said with the white beads now. And again, I could not understand beyond that.

          More than a year passed. Two months back, I suddenly began to search for the sandalwood rosary again but to no avail. I still remained undisturbed but every time we recited the prayers, I now wondered where the little one had gone to.

          And I wondered why. Deep down, something was beginning to stir in me that the rosary had been taken away. Taken away by the same Unseen hand that had brought it to me that day in the car when I had given praise to God in a time of deep sorrow. I didn’t get the feeling that it was due to some wrongdoing or failure to fulfil some responsibility.

          But just as before, the humble brown beads had made way for the queenly white one.

          This morning, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I awakened to a blue mist binding my heart. I wasn’t sad or depressed or in a fit over something. But there wasn’t any joy in me either. I was feeling dead and empty and this morning, I just wished it weren’t so. Christmas was coming and I wanted to feel that special joy and to quiver a bit in anticipation.

          As I was musing over this, I recalled a line from a prayer I had just read:

A Cross is a perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect.

Then, someone passed a thought through my mind. What if this touch of blue in my soul was this perfect gift from a God whose Love is perfect? If so, to pray it away was not in the will of God, never mind my yearning.

          I didn’t try to bargain with God this time. I got off the ground and dusted myself. If He had willed that I should not feel joy, then I would embrace this Cross for the sake of others – for those contemplating suicide and for those struggling with grief and other unhappiness. I had been in those valleys before. I knew what they were like. So, I asked the Holy Mother of God that these sufferers instead be given the joy I had prayed for.

          Then I quickly got busy before I regretted the prayer.

          Dressing to go out for the day’s errands, I caught sight of a backpack I normally take on holidays. I had just used it and I knew it was now empty. Yet, for no apparent reason, I picked it up and absently ran my fingers down its inner compartments.

          I touched something. I didn’t need light nor sight to tell me what it was.

          Little one had been returned.

          I must have asked why. No answer did I receive, no reason did I get. Yet, a soft mist passed over my heart.

          And then I knew. A door has shut behind me, a page has now been turned.

 

 

 

 

Choosing Jesus for Those Who Won’t

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          This year, Advent will open for us in a way I’d rather not have. A niece will be getting engaged to a young man who we fear sees her as a cash cow and is merely using her. He’s not Catholic, not even a Christian and shows no interest in the faith. But the worse sorrow is that my niece is, of her own will, moving away from the faith of her birth.

          In her choice of life partner, she is not choosing Jesus.

          In recent weeks, I’ve given my all in prayer. In addition to the prayer need above, I’ve also increasingly heard about distressing mental issues and sufferings and oppressions. Suicides – not just of individuals but of entire families – father, mother, children. It seemed like everywhere we looked, we saw the family and marriage under severe attack – just as Sr Lucia Dos Santos of Fatima had warned.

          With each troubling, I’ve loaded everyone and everything into my prayer cart and gone before the Miraculous Image. I have struggled and struggled to marshal every fibre of my being into prayer lines, for the weeks have been tough and I didn’t always feel like praying.

          Yesterday, I became aware of a word that has been coming up everywhere I turn:

HOPE

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a thing before. Every few hours, in the least likely circumstance, HOPE came before my eyes.

          I believe it is an exhortation to persevere and not give up. HOPE – because wishes may be long in coming true. HOPE – because spent and tired as I am, maybe there’s a lot more of the difficult road that needs to be journeyed down. HOPE – because

You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. All these are the beginning of the labor pains.   ~  Matthew 24: 6 – 8

          All these are the beginnings of the labour pains. I feel the sting of tears behind my eyes. There is much, much more to be endured. The journey is far from ended. And I have nothing left to give. Nothing at all.

          I think of the hymn the angels sang into my ear at daybreak – This is My Body, Broken for You ~

This is My body, broken for you,
bringing you wholeness, making you free,
take it and eat it, and when you do,
do it in love for Me.

Do it in love for Me. I am running on empty. I do not know how to feel hopeful because the bite of disappointment in a world unravelling even faster is deepening. Yet, Jesus says, Eat My body. Eat it in Love.

          To persevere, to hope, is to get up from the ground and continue my journey for the love of Jesus. If my niece chooses a self-absorbed, materialistic man over Jesus, if despairing parents choose suicide over perseverance and endurance, if bullies and tyrants and narcissists seem stronger and more powerful than ever, then, no matter how tired I am, no matter how broken I feel inside, I must love by choosing Jesus on their behalf.

          That is the meaning of receiving the Eucharist. To eat the Body of Christ is to say to my Jesus, I choose You. To become one with my Jesus. To feel His pain. To suffer with Him.

          And to say, I love You, I choose You – for those who do not.

 

 

 

 

 

The Blush Bloom

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          I didn’t return from a good work day today. It certainly felt like I had been torn and scratched and clubbed – with more to come in the weeks ahead. I had to bring home work as well, and it threw a pall over the weekend joys I normally look forwards to.

          All that saved the rest of the week from spoiling was the promise of good, wild rain coming shortly.

          Given what is happening in so many parts of the world where terrible winds and rain are bringing so much sorrow this year, it might seem terribly remiss of me to want  the rain~winds to blow strong.

          But this wasn’t the hour for rational thinking. All I wanted was a storm that matched my mood and troubled heart.

          The angry clouds rushed to do my bidding, pouring down silver~grey torrents in a determined fury. Yet, I didn’t feel them fall upon my storm-tossed spirit; my heart had been caught elsewhere.

          When the rains started, my son had insisted on running out to the flower beds being battered by the stream of water pellets. He had planted a rose plant some months back, and it had borne him his first bloom. She had raised her blushing head in the pale sunrise hours before, and calmly took in her new home in the passing hours. In the blinding rain that was coming down now, the little rose no longer held court in grace and serenity. She was bent and trembling against the violence of nature.

          My son rescued her and brought her in, wee rose wet pink from the pelting. He gave her a home by our statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The storms raged on outside, resuming a few hours later after a brief late sunset respite.

          But my heart and my worries were no longer snagged in the vortex of the rain madness. A calm had slipped in. Not strength. Not optimism for the coming tough days. Just a slow gentl-ing of the sharp shards of emotions within.

          In this newly formed oasis, I found the will to go into my kitchen and cook a hearty dinner for my husband and children. I found the patience to empathise with my husband, himself frustrated and hurting from work wounds as well. I found the heart to laugh and cuddle and banter.

          I didn’t think to ask why. To ask where this stream of gentle, living water had come from to douse the flames. I didn’t ask – for the week had been hard and I was too tired to think. All I did was to open the gates of my heart and let the cold silver in unhindered over seething ridges.

          It was night, the clouds quiet and spent from its weeping, when I realized Someone had watched my return home from work worn, angry and frustrated. Many years ago, on a day clothed much like today, she had caught the eye of my spirit and touched me with the bloom of a pale, pink rose, to let me know I was not alone in my struggles. That she understood how hard the hours had been.

          Tonight, when I read Ellen Fassbender’s post on St Theresa the Little Flower of Jesus, when I read the little prayer to the Bloom of Jesus ~

Saint Theresa, the Little Flower,
please pick me a Rose from
the Heavenly Garden and
send it to me with a Message
of Love.
Ask God to grant me the
Favor I Thee implore and tell
Him I will Love Him each
day More and More.

 

….I knew then that the saint who resides among the roses understood the pain that comes harder on some days. While I waited for the storm to fume and rage and match my troubled stirrings just so I was assured I was not alone, St Theresa, just like that old day years back, chose to soothe my hurt by sending that bloom of soft blush of baby pink into my home, into my heart.

          To lean against Our Lady of Fatima. And by that, to gently beckon that I rest my wounds in Her.

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the Sun

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Prayer for Protection from Despair
by St. Claude de la Colombiere

Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others.
Other people will glorify You
by making visible the power of Your grace
by their fidelity and constancy to You.
For my part I will glorify You
by making known how good You are to sinners,
that Your mercy is boundless
and that no sinner no matter how great his offences
should have reason to despair of pardon.
If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer,
let me not offend You even more
by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me.

          On this morning which night rains have rendered green and silver, the last three lines of the prayer settle gently but deeply, pressed by an Unseen hand into my spirit. The lines go beyond a nudge towards humility. They hold a meaning deeper than caution.

          The last three lines tell me the little trees have meaning. Wee trees, always hidden before, that have suddenly, and oddly, stood out in the forests of my every days. As I coursed through the busy hours of each day, these little trees caught my attention, but when pursued, misted out of discernment’s reach.

          These trees were sometimes random words. Words that caught my heart in a fleeting vice of cold. Pines. Palms. Bridge. Snake. Flood. Hills. Wedding garments. Wedding feast. They were colours. Bright orange. Red. Black. Numbers. 370. 10. 2017. They were certain birdcalls. Warm, robust winds that occasionally rendered my heart and spirit still and watchful.

          The smell of roses when there were none. Bits and bites of dreams becoming reality.

          Sudden, unexpected occasions of contrition.

If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer,
let me not offend You even more
by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me.

          These last words press into my faltering spirit the urgency of repentance and conversion and the grace of unwavering faith. They tell me I have not misinterpreted the speed of events unfolding, that I have not overreacted.

          The Day of the Sun is indeed coming. The winds of that Sun are already here. I have begun to pray a prayer I have never before prayed.

           That our lamps be trimmed in readiness. That I and everyone I hold in my heart be not taken by surprise.

          And finally, that in the aftermath of the Illumination of Conscience, love prevails over despair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yearning

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          As day eats into day, and work becomes an endless biting of the spirit, there’s a world I wish I could escape to – the beloved Prince Edward Island of Anne of Green Gables. Not just for the beauty of this Eden-on-earth, but also for the living that kept souls leaning against God’s heart. For the communing of neighbours. For a return to the time when work was a labour of love built on charity, generosity and simplicity of heart.

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          The fictitious Anne lived the life I yearn for more and more each day. When I come home from work, scratched and worn from a job that seems increasingly removed from God and heaven, when I am too tired and crabby to surrender in love to the calls of family life, when a wretched yellow air stains the little bit of green we own, I think of this bejeweled land and the life it allowed, thousands of miles away, and of the simple folk who once lived it.

          And I long and long and long for it to be mine too.

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          Will my children ever be as safe as it was then, when children knew no fear of shadows and moonless nights and darkened hearts? Will they ever know the little joys of diligence nurtured in honesty and integrity? Will they ever be free to dream and play in innocent abandon?

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          Will living ever be generous enough to allow us time to wander down quiet roads to tryst with nature? More than anything, will time ever slow down, and find its rhythm in gentle passage unbeholden to man’s tainted aspirations to rush and crush?

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          No answers lie in repose in the creases of my spirit. In this humid stillness of fret, that beautiful island and its olden life are further away than ever. Tonight, gratitude and thanksgiving is a bough beyond my reach because I’ve set my heart on a life in a world beyond me.

          But what is hope if not to anchor my vigil by the door of steadfast faith, that someday, that old life of ethereal grace will be mine.

Rise and Return

          This long road of my hope and faith breaking must have begun months before – when the struggles began to add up, and consolations were few and far between, and perhaps, too little, too mild. Heartache over political situations, problems with kids, work issues. Trying to get over one rise after another, rather than face it head-on, I might have inadvertently chosen to blank out some of my disappointment that God hadn’t shown His hand in a stronger way. And bit by bit, that hurt must have grown and widened to the sorrowful proportions I am now forced to acknowledge.

          My faith is tattered and broken in places. It’s not a complete breakdown, but every tear, however minute, needs fixing.

          But it is beyond me. This is not any random fabric. This is the silk~spread of faith, woven from grace, triumph and loss by a Master Weaver. I neither know how to weave nor mend. I am not He, and never will be.

          I am trying to be strong but just cannot pretend hope tonight. My jug of oil is empty. I am spiritually weary. So, I will rise and return to my Father. At His feet I will kneel. One by one, every thorn and nail I will name, and into His Hands I will place, each weep and tear unshed. Where will this emptying take me I do not know.

          But I must start somewhere.

Cross the Jordan

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          Years ago, plumbing the depths of desolation, I heard these words in an insistent whisper,

Cross the Jordan

And you will find rest.

          I almost wept in frustration. I couldn’t even put one foot in front of me in hope, what more swim across a biblical river.

          But unseen souls wouldn’t give up on me. On and on, over and over, through weeps and struggles, stumbles and falls, the holy wraiths urged me  forwards,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Grave after grave, farewell after farewell, one loss after another. And I’d struggle to my feet for the sake of my husband and children, for the sake of those at work who depended upon me. I walked blind, unable to sense or feel anything but the tearing sorrow of dashed hopes and dreams.

          I fell more than walked.

          I knocked at doors as I stumbled, begging mercy, respite from the wrench of pain. Many doors closed. Many never even opened. Get over it, move on, they said from their seats of comfort and triumph behind the lock. But some doors were thrown open. The most wounded of all reached out to me, fed me, nourished me and with love, set me on my way, for the journey could not end then. And long after I had crested the hill, they remained in watch at their doors, willing me on, despite their own bleeding.

          Great has been the distance covered since I began this weave through the most bitter of valleys. Yet, not one step could I have managed without the love of other wounded hearts that chose not to hide in hollows of pity. What I was fed with, they gave from their pain, they gave despite their bleeding, many wounds unhealed. They didn’t wait to reach their rest to put out their hand to me. My angel~saviours, both of this world and the next, seen and unseen, known and stranger alike, never once left my side, never ceased their whisper, willing me the life-giving hope I didn’t have.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          With that chorus in my ears, I have made it this far. At the end of this week, a Light awaits in the dark. Waiting to touch  and bathe me in welcome. But I do not want to fall into Messiah Luminescence by myself. I want this welcome to bathe one and all, every seeking soul.

          And so, to every pilgrim soul lost in the grey and in the dark, I shine you this light that was lit for me from the love of countless others,

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

          Do not stop now, do not give up. Do not let bitterness win. Hard as it is, the road we stumble along is not as lonely and as empty as it seems. Many hearts travel the same routes unseen, brokenness a common coat shared in the freeze of loss. Even when all hope is gone, even when all has been taken away, especially when there is absolutely nothing left in our jar of oil, Jesus fills it with His own grace.

Yet, it is a grace not always felt. It is a hope not always sensed. It is a light not always seen.

          But it is a life~grace born of the most bitter of Crosses. It is a grace born of One who chose to Love despite the dark, One who chose life through death so that He may pour His grace into all of us, wounded seekers of life eternal. Our Messiah’s grace poured into us at our most empty, stands at ready to light the strength we need to not stop now, to not give up, but to cross the roughest Jordans of our life, to reach the rest Jesus has ready for us.

          Come now, beloved brethren, Christmas is almost here.

Don’t stop now,

Don’t give up.

Cross the Jordan and you will find rest.

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To those who bound my wounds and fed me,

Always, always in my heart,

Sue Shanahan, https://commonplacegrace.com/

Carlos Caso-Rosendi, https://casorosendi.wordpress.com/

Susan Skinner, https://veilofveronica.wordpress.com/

Nancy Shuman, http://www.thebreadboxletters.com/

Veronica Jarski, https://theinvisiblescar.wordpress.com/

God’s Child

Merry Christmas

Mission

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          Among the many things I was raised to believe about myself was that I lacked an enduring love and loyalty. That I gave up on people too quickly, so I was not a person anyone should look to for a hand to hold in a crisis.

          I carried that belief within me into friendships, and later, into prayer life, all the time trying to right that wrong.

By forcing myself to remain in deadly relationships because I believed I was the sole author of all that was wrong about it.

And by continuing with prayers long after the call of need had passed and evolved.

          Not surprisingly, I careened from one wreck to another. As I endeavoured to smoothen the path for others, I wound myself into knots that grew tighter and tighter even when I saw I was going nowhere but south, into the pit of unnecessary pain. The window of rescue flung wide, I turned away from. The open door to freedom I ignored, simply because I believed that it was my personal flaws that made me want to take leave of a situation, not the situation itself.

          Over time, through a series of miracles, cords were severed and I was taken to a different school where I began to learn who I really was. That marked the beginning of the end of detrimental relationships, and I slowly learned to loosen and escape the black grip others had over me.

          But one cord from the past remained. That one made me a prisoner within my own prayers, to my own prayers.

          When we’ve seen the inside of any prison far too much, there will be birthed within us a strong desire to free other imprisoned souls in various other prisons. And I found the recitation of various novenas very efficacious towards that intention. So, every time a pain reached me and couldn’t be dislodged after some prayers, I sought the power of novenas.

          While most were said for the required 9 days, there were others that I prayed – for difficult people, for children other parents struggled over, – which stretched on for months on end. I went to them, day after day, month after month, tugged on not only by the determination to spill light and love into wounds, but also by covert hope that I will be rewarded with the knowledge that my prayers had been answered.

          It is this erring pursuit of subliminal self-seeking which took me into landscapes so arid they ultimately dried up every rivulet of love and mercy within me. After much time had passed and seeing no discernible change in the person or situation I was praying about, I had to drag myself to the novena, just to be faithful to it.

          To not be who I was told I was- fickle, disloyal, lacking in compassion.

          It made me dread prayer time.

          I wanted so much to be over and done with some of those novena prayers because I could sense new needs coming up which I had to somehow either squeeze into my prayer schedule or keep waiting.

          Or totally ignore, hoping someone else would take it up.

          Yet, ending the novena was not an option, simply because I didn’t believe I had discerned it right; I thought it was my fickleness, my lack of loyalty and compassion for suffering souls that made me want to leave a prayer need and move on to another call. I saw the call to prayer as a duty I had to lash myself to.

          I failed to realize that praying for my fellow sheep was a mission to shine light, GIVEN me by my Shepherd. And that after a time in a certain part of a pasture, He would call me to another area of need which would require a move to a new meadow.

          I failed to see that to move, I first needed to leave.

         Soon, however, it came to a point where I had to admit to myself that something was very, very wrong if prayer was tearing me to bits. There was also much guilt over the bitter way I was praying for others. I saw it sully and stain my prayers. It wasn’t right.

          Somehow, my bitterness of spirit as I walked in the fields of pain and need constituted a far worse disloyalty towards others. I needed to discern what had gone wrong with me.

          So, back to heaven’s door I went, a changed person. Broken,  bewildered, penitent. No longer powered by my own desires. 

          Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to learn the lesson others guided by wisdom have long understood and obeyed: that when I answer the call to love others, I am shining the Light God Himself has asked me to.

          It is not my light. It is not the light I think I should shine.

          It is the Light received from the Almighty.

          It is the Light of Mission Willed for me.

          And this flame of mission can burn strong and steadily. Or it can change from time to time. Lights are given to be shone for the sake of Love, as Susan Skinner reminded me.

          I cannot, must never, choose which light to shine when or for how long, because I am the hands and feet of Jesus. To lose myself in the Divine Will is to go where He wills me to go, and to stay in one pasture of pain only for as long as He wills.

          And when He sends the angels to lead me elsewhere, I must learn to trust that the Light I held and shone for a time will now be passed into other faithful hands. In the shift of sands, I might be given this same light to shine out once more, or I might never see it again. As I learn to discern my mission at any given time, so must I learn to leave it when called.

          After all, what is faith but to know that I am one of many in the vineyard, there to shine the Light of Mission pressed into my spirit by One whose wisdom I will never surpass.

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