Lent

Lent 36 ~ Close Your Mouth

herald-3759371_1280

          It has been a wonderful, delicious two days of being on a break. To have it coincide with Holy Week is a coincidence not lost on me: God wants me silent and attentive. And today, He made sure I got the message.

          On a long evening drive today along country roads with the family, I wondered about God’s silence these past 2 days. The last I heard His voice on my heart was on the Feast of the Annunciation when He told me it was time I rested and let Him take over. I agreed. I was truly spent. But I needed to walk Holy Week right too and for that I needed to hear from my God.

          So, I began to search for Him and to listen out for His voice. So many, many little things came and went, pressing their sweetness upon my heart. Our family spent a lovely day in the sun out in the garden today. At one point, I heard the plaintive cries of an eagle high up in the sky. Its shadow fell fleetingly upon our front lawn as it crossed the sun’s eyes. Looking up, I saw two of them, swooping and soaring in the happy blue skies, watched by fattened white clouds, their calls bringing an immediate quietening to my heart.

          No Word did I hear but peace reigned strong as I cut and gathered gardenias for our Sunday altar. A good lunch and a short but deep rest afterwards filled me with all the energy that had been missing for a time. The kitchen put into order and meal prep complete, we piled into our car for that sunset drive.

          Just a few minutes out of town, a huge gold moon rose in the sky before us. The Passover moon, I thought to myself. The Feast of Freedom from slavery and tyranny, it had begun yesterday and would end on Easter Day. Again, a quiet descended into me.

Will You speak to me, Lord? I asked and released the asking into the purple~orange sunset.

          Once home, in a quick reading before I went to cook dinner, I felt a faint quickening within as an unexpected word came before me,

Pilgrimage

          I understood immediately and jumped to obey. Tell me what to do, Lord, I answered, all quivering-ly eager and ready. But nothing could have prepared me for what came next.

You need a spiritual pilgrimage.

Begin by closing your mouth.

   ~  Egyptian Desert Fathers

Lent 23 ~ Going Visiting

sunset-5828969_1280

The best remedy for dryness of spirit, is to picture ourselves as beggars in the presence of God and the Saints, and like a beggar, to go first to one saint, then to another, to ask spiritual alms of them, with the same earnestness as a poor fellow in the streets would ask alms of us. ~ St. Philip Neri

          I’m going visiting today, first to one saint, then to another, because despite the quiet serenity of the day, nothing spills into the arid gullies of my heart. There’s a dense fog in my head and a sullen spirit rules today. A loving old aunt is seriously ill in New Zealand. My mother-in-law found a bit of her old self – which she is better off not finding. Things are not going well in our country, and not in our workplaces too.

          If there’s a time when prayers are most needed, it is now – when it can least be given.

Ask spiritual alms of them

          So, I’m going to knock on some doors and ask for help. Beggar I may be but that will not stop me from asking big. At each door, I will ask for a miracle, for us and for others, for needs I am aware of and for those hidden and unspoken of.

          So that by eventide, I may return home, knowing that miracles are on the way to all those who need them.

Lent 22 ~ Apples from My heart

fruit-2905849_1280

Last night I went out, as always to say good night. The night air had a slight touch of coolness. In the sky, I saw the Milky Way. This is rarely visible, so of course I went out to the field to get the best view. There were more than a million stars out and I made a lot of wishes. The familiar scent of apples in various stages filled the air. I stood amongst the fallen apples and under a trail of stars for a good while. . . . and when I was able – I said good night with a grateful heart.   ~ Michele Warren, The Rabbitpatch Diary

 

          In one of her latest comments, Linda Raha mentioned about going over the blessings of the day when we go to bed. If it didn’t stick with me as it should have then, it certainly did now.

          It is a terrible thing to not be grateful. In my life, some of the most trying people have always been the ones who are incredibly ungrateful. They bite and snark more at life than life deserves simply due to diminished gratitude. In an ungrateful heart, there’s little softness to absorb the hard knocks of life, to soften the blows that must fall upon us in its seasons. So, not only is pain felt in all its depth, I suspect it is also exaggerated because it has too much space to grow. Life with an ingrate can be beyond tolerable. You can be worn to the bone of soul trying to make the ingrate happy and keep it that way for some hours of sanity. Life in a home shared with one is to live in perpetual darkness; to be in the light you have to be away from that person.

          But that only makes coming home that much harder. There’s nothing worse than having light touch your soul but then later having to return to a darkness that abhors the light. Some forms of ingratitude is exactly that: a dark that cannot tolerate the light of thankfulness.

          Today is Friday and it is my day of atonement and reparation. Today, I atone for all the times I have been anything less than grateful for every little sweetness God has pressed into the fold and creases of my life – and sadly, there have been too many of those instances. It is always the easier option to call someone out for a failing; looking inside and facing up to the same fault is never pleasant.

          But that is the special grace of Lent.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
for I am gracious and merciful.   ~  Joel 2: 12 – 13

          Tonight, Michele Warren’s memories of apple~days stir to life one of my own, of a child long ago, nourished by the sweetness of apples gifted from the heart.

          So, to my God I return with a gift I haven’t offered my Lord enough, apples from my own heart.

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Go Out and Love

sky-960116_1280

          Yesterday, some issues regarding my professional future were weighing on my mind. In my post, Destiny, fellow blogger and my friend, Ann Coleman, commented, “It’s natural to be anxious about something so important. But I do believe we can trust God to be with us through even the worst challenges. And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.” 

          Something about that last line snagged my frazzled and tattered attention.

And I’ll pray that your work situation works out for the best.

          Ann’s touching concern and support lit a spark in me. Of wanting to go out of myself and care for others besieged by work concerns in whatever form. Nonetheless, at that very moment, it was mind over heart, because it was almost night and I was so very worn out from staring at my laptop screen for hours on end.

          Still, when God lights a spark, it is lit, no matter what.

          Today, I had to travel to the city with my husband. We met a salesperson he had dealings with. Within a few short hours, the 60-something man had let down inner his mask with us, and let slip that he had just undergone a heart procedure. I thought to myself that sales wasn’t the best job to be in if you had a heart complaint. Later on, we observed signs that despite his good work ethic, genuinely genial nature and immense popularity with clients, he didn’t seem to be earning very much.

          And yet, he was so giving, even when it would have gotten him nothing back.

          As we waved goodbye, something about him tugged at my heart. Well into his 60s and continuing to work in such a cutthroat business when others would have retired, I just felt that something hadn’t worked out in his life. He had a hunted look in his eyes, as if there were forces he was trying to outrun but couldn’t.

          Driving home, I thought about this man’s worn heart and remembered him before God.

          We were late in leaving the city and so got caught in its after-work traffic snarl. Driving carefully, I watched cars zip in and out, drivers in a great hurry to get home. Deeply exhausted, home seemed so far away. And we had one more similarly draining trip to make the next day.

          Despite my state, in the sharply angled evening sunshine, something else began to take over. I found myself empathising with the commuters’ rush to get home. Oddly, it was almost as if I could cut past the layers of metal and noise, and see right into hearts, here and there encountering happiness and good cheer, but mostly touching weariness, worry, frustration or just plain tiredness from a hard day’s work. All stopped at traffic lights after traffic lights, we were sitting in different vehicles, looking different, living differently. And yet, there was a common thread of happiness, worry, fear and tiredness running through each of our lives. 

However different we were, we are all bound together by our need of God, to be placed in His Flaming Heart.

          Once home some hours later, I contacted our parish priest to make arrangements to attend private Mass with him. To my sadness, I found our priest in great agony from nerve pain. He asked for prayers and so I hastened to do what I could, feeling it was too little against such a great need.

          It was past midnight when I sought the stillness to gather my thoughts. While no great mountain did I move in my Friday hours, Ann’s words reminded me that even in our hardest struggles, our hearts must never close in on ourselves. That no matter how gnarled and rutted our own path is, we must take care to never lose compassion for others who are suffering. And yet, that remains a mountain to be scaled – to remain in the moment of others’ suffering, to help them carry their crosses, even as my own weigh me down.

          Although so many of our questions remain unanswered, and the road stretches on through the uncertain terrain of life, in choosing to open our hearts to the pains of others, I have learned a great many times, our crosses will not vanish, our own pain might not diminish. The lesson God wrote upon my heart today was that,

The more we hurt inside, the more we must go out and love.

          Because it is when we wipe the wounds of others, that we touch the very Wounds of Christ.

Lent 14 ~ Destiny

 

sunset-926079_1280

You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for You are my refuge.
Into Your hands I commend my spirit;
You will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
But my trust is in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
In Your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.   ~  Psalm 31: 5 – 6; 14 – 16

 

          For years, Into Your hands I commend my spirit, had been the first offering of my day to God. But somewhere last year, I forgot the prayer of my rising – and didn’t even realize it. This morning, though, it was the first vine of prayer that wove its way from my heart to God’s. I smiled to see my old prayer~friend again.

          After the usual morning chores, I settled down to work from home. Yesterday had been a full day. Apart from work, optional retirement had been weighing very heavily on my mind because I found out yesterday that some changes at work will be coming into effect soon. A safeguard that has protected me so far could be dismantled. If that does happen, I would have no choice but to seek a transfer or quit my job. A transfer would mean a very long daily commute, wearing me down further; with quitting, naturally, my thoughts went to our finances. We still have some way to go and I was concerned about the impact of retiring even a year earlier. While my musings didn’t agitate me nor make me fearful, it did lodge deep within like thick mud.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit

          This morning, when I went to my daily Readings, I was mildly startled to see the same morning prayer appear before me in the Responsorial Psalm. Why was the prayer slipped into my heart today, of all the days? I  suddenly wondered. 

          Then, my eyes fell upon a verse, and it struck my heart like a light bolt.

In Your hands is my destiny

 

 


									

Lent 13 ~ Live in Gentleness

2

He who does little, but in a state to which God calls him, does more than he who labours much, but in a state which he has thoughtlessly chosen: a cripple limping in the right way is better than a racer out of it.   ~  St. Augustine

          How true that quote is. And how often I have been guilty of being the racer who labours much but in a state I have thoughtlessly chosen. I am reminded of a time a few years ago when I stubbed my toe and fractured it. For 4 weeks, I was that cripple in the quote, slowly and carefully hobbling down corridors and up and down stairs. I thought of the large amount of work that needed to be done but which I couldn’t in my state. There was no help for it; I could only work as fast as I could move.

          Surprisingly, everything got done. For 4 weeks, I worked with calm deliberation, thoughtfully considering my every move and task. No frenzied ticking off lists in my head. No zipping here and there, doing the necessary and the unnecessary. Still, work got done. Meals got cooked. Clothes got laundered and ironed.

          For 4 weeks, every minute was lived in gentleness.

          Today, for the first time, I catch the morning sun shining its heart right through the trees facing the east. At that perfect angle, the sun’s rays pierce my eyes and my heart. Delighting in this early morning gift, I leave my work to love the sun. 

           What do You ask of me, Lord? I happily tilt my own heart to the sun. No reply is laid upon my ears as second by second, the gold of morning grows impossibly brighter. Then, just as suddenly as it came to its window in our trees, the sun rose higher, taking its piercing rays to others.

          In the ineffable sweetness of parting, I understood the call of His flaming Heart.

          Live in gentleness.

Lent 12 ~ While In The Midst

swan-1908284_1280

I came home on Monday.  The snow, followed by days of rain, had turned the yard in to a large mud puddle.   There wasn’t a single ray of sun either.  The countryside looked drab and untidy   . . .so I remembered the irises and the pale blossoms of the peach tree to “tide me over” for a while.  The earth is filled with promises, I reminded myself.  This sparked a joy in my heart.  Suddenly, I took a second look around me and noticed the many shades of silver in the sky.  There were all sorts of chestnut and coppery browns and soft greys.  Even the puddles were full of life.  Soon, lamps would shine through the old windows of the farmhouse and the house would smell like supper. 

I chided myself for waiting for beauty, while in the midst of it.

~  Michele Warren, rabbitpatchdiarycom

Lent 10 ~ Come and Rest

duck-5440576_1280

In green pastures He makes me lie down;
 to still waters He leads me;
 He restores my soul.   ~  Psalm 23: 2 - 3

          I didn’t live the days of this week too well. Too much work and way too little rest. Thankfully, I was still filled with good cheer and didn’t mar the days with occasions of ill temper or grumpiness. Still, I wasn’t happy. While much had been accomplished, all the ticks on my list on only heightened my dissatisfaction over the way I had lived these Lenten days. I had not read any Lenten reflections. We had not recited the Family Rosary in a long while. I missed a day or two of My Lenten promise to recite one decade of the Luminous Mysteries each day for healing. No exercise, no workouts, no time spent in the garden.

          Not good.

          Then, yesterday morning, I discovered something interesting for work. With my limitations and slow understanding, learning how to use the apps ate into my hours. Somewhere in the evening, I nailed one, able to comfortably navigate it now. Buoyed on by sheer glee and hope, I rushed through dinner and went to try the second app. I could feel my younger children watching me very carefully, trying to determine if they could safely sneak in some harmless mischief. When I’m in this mood, I become very focused and I was determined to learn how to use this platform before I called it a day. So, it was the kids’ lucky day and boy, did they light the fire. Nonetheless, nothing distracted me. It was midnight, by the time I leaned back in satisfaction.

          Just before turning in for the night, something occurred to me and I returned to the app to check it. And found all my effort for naught. Absolutely naught. There was a glitch of some sort and it was beyond me to figure it out.

I’m going to mop the house first thing tomorrow, I thought to myself.

          Not to work on it or to get help with it. But to wield the mop and shine the home because something told me this was the end of the road where that app was concerned.

          I slept in a bit this morning and then rose to give the house some loving. The deep cold of past mornings had suddenly given way to an intensifying heat. A storm was likely some days away. But the happy singing of the birds and the laughing breezes playing tag amongst the trees had turned the day into gold.

          Like liquid incense, that golden joy spilled into my own heart. A smiling, rosy lightness lifted me.

In green pastures He makes me lie down;
to still waters He leads me;
He restores my soul.

            Come and rest, said the Lord.              

Lent 9 ~ Your Heart is My Altar

halo-2646333_1920

Dost thou know why I give thee My graces in such abundance? To make of thee a sanctuary in which the fire of My love may continually burn. Thy heart is like a sacred altar which nothing sullied may touch; I have chosen it as an altar of holocausts for My Eternal Father.   ~  The Lord, to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque