HOLY SPIRIT

Vigil of Broken Faith

          After doodling in the sand for a time, after the uncomfortable silence that I tried to ignore but couldn’t quite, heaven’s window opened a little, and I understood that I was to stay by the water’s edge.

          And quit chaffing at the bit.

          For even by the lake shores where weeds grow in wild abandon, there was work to be done and work being done. I had to learn patient submission – because to meddle, to saddle up and force a journey, was to interfere in the Spirit’s work.

          So, retreating to the sun~shadows among the water grasses where the wounded  gather, I tried to press Jesus into wounds through the Memorare novena; I was determined to not be caught in spiritual idleness – whatever else my failings.

          But whenever the rains fell and rippled diamonds on the lake waters, I’d look across the wide expanse with a wistfulness. For a while, I didn’t understand myself. Whenever the pace got wild and frenzied, I grumbled about how much was taken from me; yet, when the tempests stilled and I was left alone, untroubled, I longed for…action.

          I gave myself a shake. What did I want? Was it really eagerness to be about my Lord’s business – as I tried to convince myself? Or was this restlessness about something else?

          This morning, Someone sat by His door waiting for me. The minute I arrived, He opened the scrolls,

Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, 
you endured a great contest of suffering.
 At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; 
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.   ~  Hebrews 10:32 – 35

          Do not throw away your confidence. The words fell into my heart. And with it, crept in a soft, worn sadness. A lantern had been held up in the darkness of my yearning, and I saw the faltering faith I was trying to hide, and hide from. My impatience was not a saintly longing to toil in my Master’s vineyard. I was not being impatient to do my Lord’s will; I was impatient for a Sign that the end to suffering was close by. I wanted Jesus to come, and to come right now. I wanted Him to hurry up!

          And because my Lord didn’t seem to be in a hurry to do my bidding, I wanted to storm across and drag Him to my place of waiting!

          My chastened spirit fell before that enlightenment. How many more holes would I continue to worry into the fabric of my fragile faith? When would I ever learn humility and patience and spiritual perseverance?

          Making a tentative step towards contrition, this consolation quietly came:

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what He has promised.
For, after just a brief moment,
He who is to come shall come;
He shall not delay.   ~ 
Hebrews 10: 36 – 37

Gales must blow wild and fires rage

Water must churn and swell,

earth in fury shake its molten fist.

And aridity and desolation root firm and unflinching,

before the winds dip

and the air still

in homage

to the King.

          For every summit reached, there might be a valley whose deeps await us in yet another testing. For all our sureness that we have read the signs right, we might reach one threshold after another in breathless anticipation of a King’s coming, only to cross into disappointment and dismay.

          Despite all that has been endured, much must still pass before He comes. Till the Time, we must endure and not throw away our confidence. Even when the beauty of life loses its allure for us, and light~dances dim in their glimmer, keep the vigil of faith we must.

          However broken and disfigured that faith becomes.

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A Desert Song

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          This year, I did not prepare for the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross with the novena. I couldn’t get to a church too. I wasn’t too pleased with myself, either. An important feast for the Catholic church and there I was, not dressed for it.

          But it has been a week of some form of spiritual scrubbing. Still struggling to focus on prayers, I began to weary of myself. I was tired of me.

          I wanted me out of my soul.

          I wanted my spirit and my soul scrubbed clean of me. I wanted to be filled only with the Holy Spirit.

          And I found an odd comfort in praying to be emptied of me, to be filled with the Spirit. During prayer, during Rosary meditation, I chased myself out, and asked for an infilling of the Spirit.

          To be honest, nothing happened. I came into the new week, as the one before – feeling empty and bare inside, but not in a draining spiritual/emotional knot. I was clear in my head, able to partake of life with joy and vigour.

          Today, on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, feeling like I had done little to receive the feast in my spirit, I prayed a prayer I am learning to pray ~

Help me to love the Cross. Help me to love the Cross.

          Granted, it wasn’t much. My widow’s mite. But it was all I could draw forth with true sincerity.

          Blue-grey storm clouds began to gather by the afternoon. Yet, in the evening, they chose to tip their jars elsewhere. I looked up at the sky and the departing storm carriages, willing to feel the beauty of the soft tangerine pink sunset ribbons sweep over my barren spirit. But the clouds went forwards without a backward glance, and I was left empty at my window.

          It was then that I heard voices sing a song I had long not heard. Unknown voices from a distance, in a solemn choir.

SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
LET THE SONG BE SUNG FROM MOUNTAIN HIGH
SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
SINGING ALLELUIA

YAHWEH’S PEOPLE DANCE FOR JOY
O COME BEFORE THE LORD
AND PLAY FOR HIM ON GLAD TAMBORINES
AND LET YOUR TRUMPET SOUND

SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
LET THE SONG BE SUNG FROM MOUNTAIN HIGH
SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
SINGING ALLELUIA

RISE, O CHILDREN, FROM YOUR SLEEP
YOUR SAVIOUR NOW HAS COME
HE HAS TURNED YOUR SORROW TO JOY
AND FILLED YOUR SOUL WITH SONG

SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
LET THE SONG BE SUNG FROM MOUNTAIN HIGH
SING A NEW SONG UNTO THE LORD
SINGING ALLELUIA

GLAD MY SOUL FOR I HAVE SEEN
THE GLORY OF THE LORD
THE TRUMPET SOUNDS THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED
I KNOW MY SAVIOR LIVES.

 

 

 

Replace my blood with Yours

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          It’s been some days of a growing emptiness within me, despite many sun~tumbled days of happiness and laughter. It hasn’t driven me to the precipice of panic – as it would have before – that heaven has deserted me. I now know enough to know that it is I who does the fleeing – never God. Nevertheless, the vacuum within is mildly unsettling, irritating.

          Because I don’t want this void. I want to be filled with joy. I want that joy~Light to spill and flood every crack and crevice of my heart to the brim. I want to skip sunny steps and twirl and dance in happy abandon.

          Yet, it isn’t the worldly allure I seek. I want the gaiety of spiritual lightness that only the Spirit can bequeath the soul because suddenly, I am tired of worrying and caring. I want to believe that putrid waters will never hit our shores.

          But the Holy Spirit is Wisdom. Its ways not mine. It alone knows what my soul needs.

…don’t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you. Give yourself up to all His transports and have no fear. He is so wise and gentle and discreet that He never brings about anything but good. ~ St Pio

          When my Father Pio’s words sank into me, I slowly understood that this voiding was His work of Mercy. He is emptying me to be filled, I thought. Although I accepted it, being the sinner I am, I was not entirely happy with it. I wished it could have been different. I am all for the infilling. It is the emptying that scrapes unpleasantly at me.

          Suddenly, I remembered a curious incident from the Sunday before. My reading of St Faustina’s Diary – Divine Mercy In My Soul had taken me to:

          …the Blood and Water which came forth from my heart flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours. # Entry 1602

          Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          That prayer ensnared my heart. It was one of those prayers that fell straight into my spirit. I barely understood it, but feeling it was right, I prayed it over and over.

          Some days later, wanting to note down that prayer in my diary, I searched for the paragraph where it was mentioned. I found the paragraph I read. I found everything there except the prayer, Blood of Jesus, flow through me. Replace my blood with Yours.

          The prayer was not there. It was never there.

          Today, in the sun-blessed hours of a whitegold morning, birds in an ecstasy of mad trilling from green arbours, the memory of that mysterious prayer returned. In a pearl~moment, the lights knitted together.

          Replace my blood with Yours. For the Holy Blood to flow and flood me to fullness, I had first to be stripped bare, emptied of mine. That was why, when I chaffed at the emptiness inside, my Father Pio had come to tell me, Don‘t be too eager to be set free from your present state. Let the Holy Spirit act within you.

          Not every inner suffering is a punishment. Neither is it always something to be rid of. My present emptying is the work of the Holy Spirit I had consented to through the prayer, Replace my blood with Yours. Although I didn’t know it then, that prayer was my Yes to the Holy Spirit’s gentle knock on the door of my heart.

          I had opened the door to the Spirit. Now, I must submit to It.

Replace my blood with Yours.

The Time of Waters

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          For some reason, the call of the spirit came strong for me long weeks past Pentecost. For the first time in my life, I am sensing a humbling of my own soul before the Holy Spirit, and immediate bend of my own wayward spirit, in recognition of Who is Master, and who is not.

           Despite the almighty ruckus within me as I banged my head against every post in a deep inner struggle, my relationship with the Spirit has changed in some way I cannot find adequate enough words for yet. In the past week, more so. A deepening. A stilling.

          A woodpecker with his cape of royal red is intrigued by the trunk of one the trees that borders my property. Resting my eyes on the regally attired bird, a sultry amber breeze weaves a gentle path through  green crossings.

          Gently, slowly, the winds reach me and quietly rest a caution on my spirit: the time of waters is getting close.

https://writingonmyheart.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/lent-18-a-coming/

 

Pearls of Little Holies

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          I made a friend recently. Only I didn’t know it till later. I first found him through a humble entreaty to the Holy Spirit in a Consecration Novena I had said short weeks before. Later, in the hours of dry winds, I met him again in a prayer.

          And still it didn’t clink that these bumpings were not mere coincidences.

          Until I came face-to-face with him yet again in a quote by him, On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope, used as a lead to the exquisite poem, Regarding Love by Cynthia Scodova in her blog, The Mad-Eyed Monk. From that quote, he led me down the poem till my eyes rested on

The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          Only then, belatedly, did it hit me that St. Augustine was calling out to me to get my attention, and his call had something to do with the way The infinitesimal sings its small song for You curled and settled into my heart .

          I knew very little about him except that he was more than a trunk-load of headache and heartache to his mother, St. Monica. Then, he found God, and left the sordid life he had known and loved, for another of holy deeps that stripped him of all he had held close before.

          Reading about him, getting to know him, I asked him what his reaching out to me meant. Was it to strip myself of more life-sapping petals? Was it to write more, speak more? What?

          He held my eyes, and took me back to the little lamps he had lit as he drew me towards him.

∗   The simple prayer to the Holy Spirit in the Consecration Novena,

∗   The calling to the Holy Spirit to scatter its cheerful beams into my withering soul.

∗   And finally, The infinitesimal sings its small song for You

          And then, the bead slid into its pod.

          St. Augustine, great Doctor of the Church who occupied the highest of echelons of spiritual greatness, was calling me to the littles of life. To pare down life to what was truly important – the little calls heaven presses into my spirit. The ones I sadly, often forsake, seeking instead the heights of greatness in pastures not meant for me. The calls were the sacred duties of wife and mother which God had entrusted to me.

          Every day since I found his prayer I had been praying for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Now, St. Augustine was willing me to understand that for the Spirit to permeate every pore of my soul, I needed to return in cheerful obedience and humility, to tend to every one of the little holies of my life – the sacred calls woven into my marriage and motherhood. To attend to the littles of life was to allow a scattering of the Spirit’s cheerful beams, within every fold and crease of my walk on this earth.

          St. Augustine had come in Mercy, to call me to return to the holiness of the littles. To fill with love and tenderness the golden cups set out for me in the Divine Will. He had come to teach me that every little act of love, every tiny sacrifice hidden for the Love of the Most High, would be like simple grains of sand the world might scoff at, but when  purified, be transformed into pearls of little holies, woven one into another, to form the necklace of Eternal Life.

Spirit~Fall

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          Two weeks ago, St. Augustine quietly eased into my life on a blue breeze when I began saying the shortened, 9 day Preparation for Consecration of the Family to Jesus Through Mary. Tucked into that 9-day novena, was a daily prayer by the saint:

St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy;

Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy;

Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy;

Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy;

Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.

          I was pleasantly surprised to read such a simple, straight-to-the-heart prayer from an esteemed Doctor of the Church, whom I always associated with loftier works. One of the little lessons the Spirit brought me through St. Augustine’s prayer was that those closest to God will always endeavor to simplify life and living, for themselves, for others. And that is one of the signs of someone whose heart was right beside His Shepherd’s, united with His Master in bringing heaven’s lights to the somber clutter of erred living.

          I made the consecration and left St. Augustine in the prayer booklet I had used. A week after, I became aware of a mild interior barrenness. Of an inner abode cleared of many of its burdens, yet lacking the silver tinkle of joy to wreathe the inner spaces with life-giving light.

          That was when St. Augustine came right back into my world. He slipped in through Nancy Shuman’s post in The Breadbox Letters, Holy Spirit, Enlighten…

 O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.  ~ Saint Augustine

          I read the words and right away knew it was what I needed – a scattering of cheerful beams. Not a firing up, not a lancing through, not even a flooding, but a scattering, so Light is drizzled far and wide, over every mottle of shadow left in my soul.

          I went back to that invocation several times, for myself, for others, each time, praying the hope St. Augustine had spun into prayer.

          A day later, returning home as the afternoon sun had begun to tease the western skies, I suddenly sensed a tiny joy~bell chime within me. My breath caught as a faded memory of old days danced before me. Days dimpled in exquisite peace and joy. Times gone by, years and years and years past.

          And now suddenly, right after the prayer, with no fanfare to herald its coming, a hundred wee bells tinkled their lilt of joyousness into the folds of my spirit. Ringing and tinkling, ringing and tinkling, they watered the empty burrows I had grown accustomed to. Once more, long, long years since the last, I felt again the joy~jingles birthed only from the shores of heaven’s streams. A deep serenity and peace bubbled and unfurled within the folds and creases of my weather beaten spirit, smoothening out every wrinkle.

          Since Pentecost, I had been looking out wistfully for the holy fire of the Upper Room to fall upon me. I had tensed in hope in every crescendo moment; in rigid readiness sought the spirit~fall in the crash and bang of dramatics.

          But for me, the spirit~fall was not to be found in the passion and widesweeps of life.

          Instead, it came in the quiet streams of Sacred Blood and Water, to tinkle awake the sleeping bells of my soul.

LENT 19 ~ When The Red Goes

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          From my waking, all through to the waning hours of sunset, the gentle hymn, Bread of Life, played in my consciousness. I began my day in a cheery gentleness, with a skip in my step, but soon my blue-gold day was snagged by the thorns of difficult human behavior, and I had to bite down my anger and frustrations.

          I failed more than I succeeded because not once did I bring God into the redness of my day.

          Back home, I was safe from the stings of the workplace. Yet, I felt scratched. Not from the challenges of the day, but from the angry thoughts that I had allowed to nestle and burgeon unchecked within me. Anger was now gone, but for the hours it found a willing home in me, it left me a parting gift of sand in my wounds for my sinfulness.

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:9

          Sore. Nettled.

          So, this is what fool  feels like when the red of anger has gone, and the Holy Spirit vexed.

1. Bread of life and cup of hope,
we come as gift to you.
Change our hearts; fill us with peace.
Transform our lives anew.
Open our eyes so that we might see
your presence in one another.
Your life, poured out in love today,
unites us all in you.

2. Loving Lord, Creator God,
open our eyes to see
the good that lives in each of us,
that called the world to be.
And when we fail to see the good,
when friendships falter and crumble,
give us the courage to forgive
that we may live in peace.

3. Living Word, O Son of God,
your love shows us the way
that we may live in harmony,
and from you never stray.
Wipe all oppression from our midst;
give us a love for all people.
Your song of justice sing in us,
to live for peace today.

LENT 17 -Novena of the Holy Spirit

Novena Of The Holy Spirit
by St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?
You lead me like a mother’s hand,
And should you let go of me,
I would not know how to take another step.
You are the space
That embraces my being and buries it in yourself.
Away from you it sinks into the abyss
Of nothingness, from which you raised it to the light.
You, nearer to me than I to myself
And more interior than my most interior
And still impalpable and intangible
And beyond any name:
Holy Spirit eternal love!

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Are you not the sweet manna
That from the Son’s heart
Overflows into my heart,
The food of angels and the blessed?
He who raised himself from death to life,
He has also awakened me to new life
From the sleep of death.
And he gives me new life from day to day,
And at some time his fullness is to stream through me,
Life of your life indeed, you yourself:
Holy Spirit eternal life!

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Are you the ray
That flashes down from the eternal Judge’s throne
And breaks into the night of the soul
That had never known itself?
Mercifully relentlessly
It penetrates hidden folds.
Alarmed at seeing itself,
The self makes space for holy fear,
The beginning of that wisdom
That comes from on high
And anchors us firmly in the heights,
Your action,
That creates us anew:
Holy Spirit ray that penetrates everything!

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Are you the spirit’s fullness and the power
By which the Lamb releases the seal
Of God’s eternal decree?
Driven by you
The messengers of judgment ride through the world
And separate with a sharp sword
The kingdom of light from the kingdom of night.
Then heaven becomes new and new the earth,
And all finds its proper place
Through your breath:
Holy Spirit victorious power!

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Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome,
Which crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God’s molding hand!

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Are you the one who created the unclouded mirror
Next to the Almighty’s throne,
Like a crystal sea,
In which Divinity lovingly looks at itself?
You bend over the fairest work of your creation,
And radiantly your own gaze
Is illumined in return.
And of all creatures the pure beauty
Is joined in one in the dear form
Of the Virgin, your immaculate bride:
Holy Spirit Creator of all!

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Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
The harmony,
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of his being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!

 

LENT 16 ~ Manna for the Soul

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          During my years in the cell, I was told by the keeper of the keys that spiritual reading was important to know the mind of God in order to gain the respect and admiration of all. That motivation didn’t go very far with me because I hated the attention that came with being on any pedestal. But to resist and question would be to invite trouble, so I acquiesced when asked to read.

          Being young and having no access to money, I read whatever was chosen for me. Reading should have brought a knife of illumination for me, but it didn’t – because, not only was I denied a say in the choice of reading material, I was also never given the books to be read from cover to cover; important bits from selected books were excerpted, typed out with personal clarification notes, and added to other excerpts, from other  books, to form a collage of truths on a given topic.

          So, I never really read a book in its entirety. I was given a heavily excerpted and edited version under the excuse that I lacked the intelligence to understand matters of the Lord unaided. It should have worked out just fine to read a summarized and simplified version better suited to my limited cognitive abilities, but it didn’t. I remained in that dank cell. Heaven was not opened to me because what I read was distorted through manipulation.

          The work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten and edify was pre-empted through the controlling and censoring of reading material. By the barring of the Spirit, I was jailed too.

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          Today, I am no longer where I once was. I am free to read, to question and to ponder. I am encouraged by a strong and loving husband to seek the truth through spiritual reading. But he has never once endeavored to take the place of the Spirit – to force my enlightenment towards a path that leads back to him. He has steered clear of being the gatekeeper to my own soul.

          It is this freedom that I now know, that allows me to seek God through the means denied to me before. It is a seeking blessed and nourished by the Spirit. I do not always understand all I read. Often, I have doubted and prematurely rejected goldpearls of truth. But all this makes up the essence of any true journey undertaken in absolute spiritual freedom.

When you immerse your mind and heart in spiritual books, you will always be filled, for spiritual reading gives you a foundation in God ~ St John Chrysostom

 

Read some chapter of a devout book….It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read. ~ St. Vincent de Paul

 

          And read, we must, in order to be free. To never be jailed by human will. Spiritual reading directed by the Spirit always leads to a true knowing of God and His ways. Read in joy, certainly, but read when in sorrow and fear too, because it is what keeps the Light shining in our spirits even in the midst of storms.

          As we feed our bodies, so must we, with greater diligence, feed our souls with Manna from our Saviour’s hands.

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MESSENGERS

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There is a Call going out, far and wide, streaming over hills, echoing through valleys. The One seeks messengers for His vineyard of daily toil, to trumpet His call through prayer, word and deed.

I, the Lord of sea and sky,

I have heard My people cry;

All who dwell in dark and sin,

My hand will save;

I who made the stars of night,

I will make their darkness bright;

Who will bear My light to them?

Whom shall I send?

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Do you hear the Call? Do you sense it deep within? Do you feel it written on your heart?

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What answer will you give? Will you turn away? Will you ponder? Will you shrink back in fear and doubt?

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Or will you inch open the door, your heart you give?

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Here I am Lord,

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night;

I will go Lord,

If You lead me,

I will hold Your people in my heart.

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Oh, messenger, with courage, joy and faith you step out, searching for this vineyard of His choosing, love for the suffering human race burning deep within. You make your way through doubt and darkness, your light – His Love and Truth. Nothing else matters.

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Striving to attain the heights,

Turning in a new direction,

Entering a lonely place,

Welcoming a friend or stranger.

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The sun dims, and the moon a fading somber glow. Soon, weariness weaves into the fabric of each day of service, a tiredness prayer cannot seem to dissipate.  Rejection, mocking, derision… your constant companions. Slowly, you look back on the life that was before, and the comfort of old life familiarity beckons.

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Silver is of passing worth,

Gold is not of constant value,

Jewels sparkle for a while,

What you long for is not lasting.

 And when the turmoil peaks and tempests wild, when your step falters and it’s too dark to see….you feel a Voice.

I am here, I am with you,

I have called, do you hear Me?

I am here, I am here,

I am with you.

The Holy Spirit Comforts and Guides.