Suffering

Lent 38 ~ Will I See My Lord Again?

Monstance

 

Tonight, I ask the question that burns on many hearts,

Will I see my Lord again?

         For some of us, Easter is an almost certainty. But for many, even the morrow is in doubt.

Will I see my Lord again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 35 ~ He Has Heard

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In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears.   ~  Psalm 18: 7

 

          An unearthly hush has descended here. Even the breezes caress the leaves in gentleness and silence. Only the birds delightfully chirp on unhindered. The First Friday of the month of April, the month of the Holy Eucharist. Ten days to Easter.

          What silence is this, I ponder and wonder, yet not really seeking an answer, for so very beautiful it is, this silence, this peace. Just being swathed in it suffices. Suddenly, nothing else matters, except being in the moment.

What silence is this?

          Softly, softly, it comes. It is the silence when heaven has heard.

 

 

 

 

Lent 15 ~ Hold On A While

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Hold On A While

by Amos Russel Wells

When all the sky is very black
And all the earth is blue,
And all the fiends are on your track
And howling after you;

When courage falls and hope decays
And fair ambition dies,
And all your dreamland is ablaze
Beneath the ebon skies;

When you would fain renounce the goal,
Nor plod another mile,
Oh, straighten up your drooping soul,
And—just—hold on—a while!

Hold on a while! the darkest night
May bring the fairest day.
Hold on a while! the good, the right,
Will always find a way.

Hold on! for is Jehovah dead?
His love an empty song?
Hold on! have heaven’s armies fled
Before the hosts of wrong?

Hold on! for still some strength remains,
Nor yield you till you must;
A newer life may flood your veins;
Born of a larger trust.

A newer life—hold on for that!
A lily from the mud!
The greening peak of Ararat
Emerging from the flood!

The clouds are shattered by the sun;
The earth is all aglow;
Away the howling devils run,
And back to hell they go!

Hold on for that! Do what you can,
Nor prove a craven elf;
For heaven never helped a man
Until he helped himself.

And when your fondest hopes are dead
And fate has ceased to smile.
‘Tis then it pays to lift your head
And—just—hold on a-while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 14 ~ Eyes on Heaven

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          Today, in response to a question about my ailing country, St. Therese of Lisieux spoke to my heart,

Let us go forward in peace, our eyes fixed on Heaven, the one goal of all our works.

          It was telling. I had begun to fret once more – which meant that my eyes had strayed from heaven. I needed to keep busy. So, I asked God, What do You want me to do?

          This time, another saint I cherish, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, brought me heaven’s whisper,

The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer than when you are full of joy.  

          Whatever I do, it must not be to flee from this suffering, or to ask that it be lifted. That will come, but for now, I must suffer this pain, with my eyes on heaven, in patience and hope.

          And one day, through the intercession of all the saints who are family to me, the miracle of a new dawn will finally break, truly and resolutely, over my country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 5 ~ Angel, Pray for Me

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          This Sunday dawned after the night of a thousand knives. Sunday began with tremulous hope and fear. But soon, even that hope was gone. Snatched away by betrayal after betrayal.

          In less than 2 years, the course of events of this past week has returned my country to the pits of muck and mess, where it had been for decades. In just a week, I woke up today to see our futures and those of our children’s, stolen once more from us.

          The pain was more than I could bear, and tears welled up throughout the day.

          Even the birds knew, because they took their song to far away boughs, as the winds mourned with us, caressing us in sombreness.

          My husband tried to shore up my hope, and not wanting to spurn his love, for some time, I tried to be strong. Blessed be God, I prayed, over and over. Not wanting to let evil defeat us, we worked on lunch together. My husband attended to some yard work. I tried to rest my heart amongst the new flowers in our garden.

          But soon, it became too hard. Soon, I could not summon even a simple prayer.

          That was when I recalled the words of my spiritual father.

If you cannot pray, ask your guardian angel to pray for you.   ~  St. Padre Pio

          I ran to it in great relief. My country needed prayers. Yes, hopes were dashed and crushed for now, but if we all gave up on prayer, we wouldn’t need to go far to find hell. Yet, the vicious turn of events had depleted the very sustenance we needed in order to go on fighting for our futures, for fairness and justice. Good people would tell us to keep hoping, but there are times when we just cannot find the will to hope within us. Without hope, prayer is impossible.

          Yet, if I could not pray as I should, as my beloved Padre Pio had reminded me, my angel could, on my behalf.

Angel, pray for me.

          The relief was instant.

 

 

 

 

 

Flock of God

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Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.   ~   1 Peter 5: 2 – 4

 

          The past ten days or so have been an eye opener. Taken into inner sanctums – both mine and of others – they were journeys I’d rather not have gone on, canyons and caves I’d rather not have seen. Because there’s nothing nice in discovering you have far less patience and tolerance than you previously imagined. That despite the uncountable afflictions of so many years and the multitude of lessons learned from them, your capacity for suffering is still pea-sized.

          That your first response when the fire hits is a fire far worse – never mind all the things the Lord has taught you about fleeing to His Holy Wounds for cover.

           Yet, if I am to be completely honest with myself, I have to admit that the struggle this time fell into a light different from old before’s. I was so tired from the nonstop running around, from the plotting and planning, from navigating difficult people whose sole focus in life is to muddy and rut up the path even more for others. I thought I would break from being stretched so taut and thin.

          I thought there’d never be an end to the ground breaking and rising up before me.

          Yet,

every time I thought I needed a quiet moment to sob and weep out the hurt and frustrations,

every time I wanted to just lie down and forget it all for wee minutes,

every time I tried to shut the world out to gather myself back to form,

a hidden being held my shoulders and bade me rise. Each time, he told me, Come, we have to move.

          Each time, rage geyser-ed within me over the immaturity and irresponsibility of my subordinates, the strong presence put up his hand and stayed my pyroclastic flow of emotional ash and lava, saying,

Come, we have to move

         Ferocious headache. Equally ferocious tic in my eyelid like never before.

Come, we have to move

          No rest. No respite.

          Yet, each time someone stuck out a foot and I tripped, this being was always there to keep me from falling. Each time the ground opened up beneath me, a bridge of wisdom would spring up a solution out of nowhere.

          No delusions were allowed me, for my spirit knew him. It was my St. Joseph. All this while the Discerner of my dreams. Now, the Saint of my journey through Egypt. Firm, calm, wise. Come, we have to move.

          Today, the winds outside my home rise in an urgent chorus. My avian friends scatter their melodies through the spaces in the wind~notes. Only a single kingfisher braves the thrashing boughs, staying long enough to firm his message to me, Listen! The winds speak!

          For once, my spirit is quiet and attentive, guided to this Saturday of Mary by Her Gentle Spouse, Joseph. Arriving here, the words of heaven find their way to me.

Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.

          Each line is heaven’s silver arrow, piercing the resolutions formed in the waters of hurt and fear, in response to the wounds suffered this week, hidden within the folds of my heart. As I finally lay my ears against the call of the winds, John Greenleaf Whittier’s words return to me,

Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing…
I watch the shaken elm boughs…

Between the passing and the coming season,
This stormy interlude
Gives to our winter-wearied hearts a reason
For trustful gratitude

 

          A reason for trustful gratitude. Only then, does my heart open to receive the closing verse,

And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.