Arise, My Beloved and Come!

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… the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, My beloved, My beautiful one,
and come!   ~   Song of Songs 2: 11 – 13

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The Days are Coming

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The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise   ~   Jeremiah 33: 14

 

          Yesterday, I tried God’s patience a little. He must have a lot of it, even for me. Because He didn’t rain down fire upon me. Instead, He has returned several times to my heart, when I least expect it, pressing small flowers into its soreness. 

          Yesterday, I told a friend that while I didn’t doubt the power of God, I could no longer bear to hope for change in my work and work place struggles. God has made it clear to me that I am to remain where I am to shine the light of Jesus. If I leave, there’d be no one else simply because there are no Christians in this place. This is not a Christian community, and will likely always remain so.

          I accepted that, but not in the joy of saints. I accepted it the way one would a life sentence. You just have to cope. You just have to go on. Beat your head against the metal bars when it gets too much. Grit and bear solitary confinement. Live in wary alertness, sometimes, fear, against attacks on you and your loved ones by your prison mates.

          I thought a break away from work would help but it hasn’t. What it has done is to heighten the deep heaviness within as the return to work looms closer. A mere glance of my heart in the direction of my work place, sears and hurts sharply. When I try to tug my heart towards prayer for the place, the people and the environment, my spirit recoils. The only remedy for it is to straighten my spine, stiffen my lip and get back to work.

          But not allow hope in my heart.

          Because, as I wrote my friend, hope is suddenly too painful to bear. It’s easier to return to work if I didn’t light the candle of hope within me.

          Hours later, my husband and I hurried on an errand to a town 40 miles away. We crested a hill and came down into late evening sunlight, curtained by the silver beads of rain.

          Deep in thought, I was unprepared for the massive, vivid rainbow before me. Huge, wide, in a kingly arc through slate grey skies, it stretched in a victor’s triumph from sky to road.

          Never in my life had I seen a rainbow as big and as strong as this! Despite myself and my grey thoughts, I burst into smile at the beauty of that surprise.

          And then, in a flash, I remembered one day, years before. I had just emerged from a terrible confrontation with my father. Only the grace of God had saved me and my family from a worse ending. I had the strange feeling of having been touched by the breath of death. My whole being was now gasping and clawing for air – as if in those terrible moments earlier, it had been deprived of it. Hours later, safe once more, my children had excitedly called out to me to have a look at new shoots coming out of a plant. I was trying to defuse the earlier encounter of its hideousness. I was trying to hold myself together and prepare dinner. To keep things as normal as possible for my young children, to not allow my parents’ poison to find its mark again in our home and hearts again. But I was struggling. I couldn’t remember what to do. Kept forgetting ingredients. The last thing I wanted to do was to go and look at a plant.

         But my spirit had strained against me.

Life! Seek Life!! it called out.

         So, I left the kitchen and went to my brood gathered by that plant. There was honestly no happiness or even life in me, but I was determined that nothing of my inner turmoil should touch my children’s pure happiness in those new shoots. So, I sank myself into their joy. As I angled my head to get a better view of the new leaves, I had to look up the waning rays of the setting sun.

          Stretched before me, in the breast of the blue~gold skies wreathed by orange and pink cloud~ribbons, was a little rainbow.

          On a day when I had been so frightened, rushing to lock my gates and doors and windows, a macabre smile fixed to my face so as not to upset the kids, on a day when shaking from head to toe I fought to secure my home, God filled me with a spill of exuberant joy.

          That day, like a gurgling brook, joy tumbled and tripped goldpearls into my heart as I recalled the rainbow that marked God’s covenant of hope with Noah.

God said: This is the sign of the covenant that I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come: I set My bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. I will remember my covenant between Me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being   Genesis 9: 12 – 13, 15

          The bow in the sky. The promise of Never again.

          Now, 4 years after that awful day, on a day when I was feeling that to be strong was to not allow hope, a rainbow had appeared again. Mightier than ever, with a power that took my breath away.

          Once more, I remembered the Noah rainbow. I thought of the promise, Never again.

          But this time, hope did not flood back in. The wound was too deep. What does the rainbow signify this time, Lord? I asked dully. My attempts at saintliness had been puny and futile. I didn’t see a way out of my work woes – short of replacing my superiors and co-workers with angels and saints.

          And then, in weariness, I wondered if I was mad. If I was trying to make a rainbow more than it was. If I was trying to read my future in it – when it was just a rainbow, even the most beautiful of rainbows. If the discernment of every marker hitherto had been wrong. If they were all just stones and sticks. And just rainbows.

          As my husband navigated a sweeping turn in the road, the rainbow disappeared. Despite myself, I peered longingly at the rain~misted skies. Even if I didn’t believe it meant anything, some part of me just wanted the rainbow to smile on. Just to make life a little more bearable.

          What does it mean for me? I tugged at God’s robe again. Another turn, and suddenly, it was there again. I almost felt the gorgeous bow giggle at me. On a whim, I reached for my phone to snap a photo. Is it just a rainbow? Or is it a sign – for me? I asked God as I readied to snap.

          At that moment, I touched something on the phone and it changed to selfie-mode. I never take selfies so I’m not adept at switching between modes. Although after some fumbles, I can normally revert it to normal mode, this time, desperate to take a picture of the rainbow before it disappeared once more, I couldn’t figure out how to undo it.

          When I finally reverted, mere seconds later, the rainbow was gone. It didn’t want to be photographed, I moaned to my grinning husband.

          Then it hit me. It was a sign – not just a rainbow. God didn’t want it on my phone, to be looked at over and over, till its significance was diminished. That’s why it was ‘taken away’.

          The king~bow was gone but now ribbons of quiet happiness had wound themselves around my heart. I went happily to the remaining hours of the day.

          This morning, Christmas edging closer, house cleaned and cleaned yet looking like we hadn’t started on it yet, I felt very tired. My thoughts skipped towards the rainbow of yesterday. I no longer doubted it had been a sign for me. But now I wanted to know what it meant.

          I busied myself with cleaning again. A short while later, stopping to catch my breath, the lines of an old Advent reading I see every single day came before me once more. Every single day, my eyes pass them and they have never paused my stride.

          Today, a sudden light pulses out of them, stopping me.

          The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Pilgrimage

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St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour grant me, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

 

          In an early morning conversation today with my close friend who had been my bridesmaid, I came face to face with an issue: my husband’s work obsession. And its spillover effects on the family. It is one I constantly wrangle with  – but with no real and lasting solution. We are both deeply committed to our work and we are deeply committed to our family. I come home two to three hours before my husband, which means that I’m the first to wade into the kids’ world and their needs. It falls to me to identify issues and either solve them immediately or at least get the solutions in motion. It is on me to see to the homework, drive the kids to their academic coaching classes. The laundry, the dinner. Their spiritual journeys. Their training in discipline. Disciplining them. Trying to keep a straight face doing it, given my penchant for giggling at the wrong times. Loving them. Having the first listen to the stories and jokes they fight with one another to get out. That’s without mentioning being in the thick of the kids’ endless squabbles. The being on near constant alert for covert warning signs of something not quite right, hidden stones in the stream.

          All this flows alongside my battles to overcome work demons that follow me home.

          My husband comes home a couple of hours later after the fights have been settled, the stories and grievances aired, dinner prep on. The kids are calmer, most of the ants expelled from their insides. Being incredibly close to their dad, he gets all the stories they tell me – but with much of any bite and hurt erased.

          Their evening and dusk schedules on full steam, my husband gets to pick the carriages he wants to ride on: the quick athletics training, forays into the garden, dinner if I ask him. He’s a wonderful, wonderful dad, tenderly helping them start their flower and vegetable beds, prodding them to think, and explaining the science behind the world around them. He ignores his exhaustion and helps the older ones with their studies with a willingness and patience I don’t have.

          But he also comes home loaded up with frustrations with work and the world at large and spills everything on me – the narratives and the effects they have on him that he won’t deal with. Kind man that he is, he listens to my day. But he prays for me only when specifically asked. And since I’m slow on asking anyone except the saints for their prayers, that’s not a road I’ve worn down much. My beloved doesn’t spend himself emotionally on my struggles. My battles are mine. His is a cheery confidence that I can handle it. When I get teary, he gets jokey. He also seems to think I have a bottomless capacity for listening. Once he begins on his work issues, it never ends. Being the keen ‘world traveller’ he is, from work problems he migrates to world issues. And back again to work problems. Somehow, there’s always a connection between the two.

          The kids could burn the house down, he’d leave me to put the fires out, helpfully stirring himself to throw a pail or two at the recurrent flames.

          To be fair, he doesn’t expect me to solve any of his issues; he just wants that listening ear. But I’m not the merely-ear type; every cell of me goes into my listening. And it wears me out beyond words.

          It brings me to days like today, nine to Christmas, trying to find God, trying to make Christmas beautiful for the kids, yet tired, foggy, fighting to stay calm and not book a ride on the rollercoaster.

          These are days I’d rather ignore – especially during Advent – hoping they’d evaporate somehow. But my conversation with my friend today unearthed it all. I could barely dig my nails into the ground to stop sliding into the shadows of hurt and frustration. My descent brought other shadows edging closer too – ones that I will Advent to give me a break from.

          I can’t pray for him anymore, Lord, I spoke from my heart. I saw myself holding on to a wooden beam, my grip slacking. I know I shouldn’t be this way, but I can’t hold on anymore.

          My husband is my best friend and I know I am his too. We laugh with each other as much as we fight. I know God has helped me so many times over this particular thorn, but today, it just didn’t seem enough anymore. Any good soul would tell me to persevere in humble prayer, what good is professing a faith if you won’t carry your Cross?

          But I couldn’t take him to the Lord in prayer today.

          Today, even the simplest pilgrimage every wife must make, was beyond me.

          I shared none of this helplessness with my friend. But miles away, deep in her own greys of loneliness and emptiness, the winds must have borne her some unspoken message from my spirit. She sent me a Christmas novena, one for each day right up to the Eve. It was just sent to me, she explained.

          Even as I eagerly reached for it, hoping it held in its bosom an answer to my seeking, a strange dryness swept over the plains of my heart, and I knew the novena was not meant for me.

          But almost at the same instant, I felt a sudden and quick piercing. With it came a memory.

          St. Andrew’s Christmas Novena. And the turn of spirit that a winter was coming.

          Today, I am no closer to discernment of the meaning of that winter than I was when my spirit first heard it that last breath of November. As I pass my eyes over the words of the novena, my spirit does not react to the words, piercing cold, as it did the last time. By this I understand that the veil has been slipped back in place. This time, it is not about what lies ahead.

          What matters is the present. Thus, I rise to begin my Christmas pilgrimage.

 

 

 

 

Boundaries

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          It’s strange, the journeys we go on when we step back and let God take charge. After months of trying to quiet myself, of trying to discern, of being as obedient as I could, I had hopes of a new Advent journey into some unknown. I longed for something new and refreshing – because I was tired out from the work year. Tired of the same ruts and trenches. The same struggles.

          I wanted a change and I hoped for this Advent to give me that. I tried to direct God a bit too – by asking to be gifted with the book, A Pathway Under The Gaze of Mary. I went to a place where I was sure I would find it. Being the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it made me doubly certain that my prayers would be answered.

          Once more, I learned that my way was not God’s way. There was no book.

           So, I allowed my disappointment to steer me towards hearts that needed to be filled. The 12th of December passed quietly. The 13th brought little parcels of sweetness as we took a break for a quick holiday with the family.

          But the 14th dawned and the familiar restlessness was back. It was the feast day of an old friend, St. John of the Cross, to whom I owe my very life. There being no spot in my heart that I cordon off from him, I lay my seeking at his feet, asking,

What am I supposed to learn?

There is always something to learn when you come. So, what is it this time? All through my washing, my baking and cooking, I badgered. Tell me. Teach me.

          He helped me as I cooked. Watched over me as I napped. Yet, not a word passed through St. John’s lips.

          But as the rain-soaked night air pressed the hidden sun to sleep, two words from of old appeared once more,

Narcissist

Boundaries

          As any adult survivor of Narcissistic Personality Abuse will tell you, celebrations like Christmas are really tough. Because you’re expected to go home, to light fires of cheer and goodwill where your love is demanded in ways and means beyond you, but not valued nor treasured. Times like these, though brief, fill all the barrels for the coming year with enough hurt and tears to keep the sun out.

          And yet, the barrels keep filling and spilling over because the abuse never stops as long as contact remains. For the NPD parent firmly entrenched in narcissism, to stop abusing is to die. They keep hurting us in order to live on, believing in the deception that they have only our best interests at heart.

          But if we choose to draw the lines in the sand to cut off and separate our lives from theirs, we erect a wall they cannot climb – which is what I finally did, after more than 40 years of pain and madness that took my marriage and family life to the brink of tragedy and life-long sorrow. I was at the very edge of the cliff. Just before the rocks beneath me gave way, St. John of the Cross pulled me away. But he didn’t just leave me a safe distance from that cliff-end.

          St. John brought me face to face with God.

          And that day, I learned that Christian NPD parents are not above abusing the 4th Commandment: Honour thy father and mother, that all may go well with you. That day, I learned that I had been trained and conditioned to worship, not honour. And that was wrong. That day too, I learned that no vocation must be forsaken for the love of earth.

          My submission to Narcissistic Personality Abuse was destroying my vocation of Marriage and Family.

          In my situation, there was no option of standing up to my abusers. Not a chance of gently making them understand or even of forcing them to respect my vocation, because not only did this abuse in my family stretch back to two generations with multiple abusers and secret victims and abuse of varying degrees, it was also fed from both bloodlines. For every limit I had endeavoured to impose, there was always someone else with NPD in the family to back them up, to enforce the idea that they had done no wrong.

          That it was I who was wrong. And that they had been wronged by me.

          In God’s heart that day of my epiphany, I finally saw that the only way to save my marriage and family was to yield to a boundary my abusers could never cross.

          It’s now been 5 years since I’ve begun to learn the meaning of lying down in green meadows where a brook gurgles past blooms that dance in winds of freedom. Yet, every celebration time, the mist of fear and worry rises a little within me: Should the boundary remain? Should I return? Each time the question forms, I become afraid. I begin to fret over unlocked gates, passing cars. I tense up in familiar family grounds. I fear the phone, the mailman. All the things that bear the stains of past encounters.

          In those minutes when I give that question life, am unable to live. My mind gets caught in the trap of what-ifs. Prayer becomes careless, patience erodes, anger creeps in. And that is ominously telling. The boundary must remain for the vocation to live.

          In today’s coming though, St. John brings me a second reason for the boundary: the safety it accords me is not merely for my sanity and vocation; it is to enable me to pray for my parents. The existence of the boundary means I am no longer trapped and held in bondage to the abuse that takes hostage my very mind and will. I am no longer caught up in anger and hurt and frustration. My mind is no longer clouded by lies and deception. My time is no longer taken up in paying homage to those who believe themselves to be God. I am free to live as God wants me to.

          But I have also been freed – to pray heart and soul, for my abusers. Because as the good priest made clear to me that day – the abuse makes me the person who knows exactly what to pray for them – that one day, like me, they too reach that shore where God’s outstretched Hand awaits them.

          And like me, they reach out and take It. And be freed.

          For that reason, the boundary must remain. The court of public opinion would assert that these are lines drawn with hate and unforgiveness.

          They are wrong. It is love.

 

 

 

 

Bouquet of Weeds

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          When we come to the end of a path and we part the foliage to discern the next tread, often it is the littlest of blooms that point the way forward. In November, I began to pray for direction for my Advent Home Retreat – one I go on each end of year right in my own home, a different retreat each time. These retreats began years back with the book about Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light. I read that book, bit by bit every day of December, and it took me on a journey with the Saint of the Slums. From that year on, it has been a different book every year or even a particular blog, lighting the way forward all through December.

          This November, I thought I’d nudge God a little in my direction of want. I told God I’d very much like to read the book, A Pathway Under The Gaze of Mary, a biography on the Fatima seer, Sr. Lucia Dos Santos. I’ve wanted it for so long and I felt it would be a great retreat-maker for me this year. So, I winged up my yearning to God. And then, promptly forgot about it.

          Heaven didn’t, though. But the answer came in a way different to my seeking.

          One day at the end of November, Ellen Fassbender’s post, My Advent Preparations for Christmas 2018, reminded me about the Advent retreat I had prayed about and then forgot. The Advent Food Box gift she wrote about stirred a Christmas-sy yearning in my heart.

          But more than that, Ellen’s words finally softened my heart into some semblance of humility. Lifting my spirit, I asked God, What gift would You have me bring my Jesus? As I asked, I stretched my eyes as far as I could see over the busy landscape of the weeks ahead. Holiday or not, two of our children face important exams next year. Hence, against the backdrop of Christmas, was the grey pallor of studies and the long commutes for coaching sessions, alongside the inevitable heavy cleaning and de-cluttering. I knew it would take much out of me. After arduous work months, I wanted to be filled with something powerful and special and holy this Christmas; I wasn’t sure I had anything to offer the baby Jesus – if there was anything worth offering.

          That very evening, I felt a sudden longing for Christmas flowers inside the home. I thought of poinsettias and on a whim, looked them up. Imagine my surprise when I read the Mexican legend about poinsettias and Christmas. The story told of a very poor child, Pepita, who wistfully longed to lay a gift at Baby Jesus’ crib at her church during Christmas Eve service. Some accounts say that it was her angel who then told her to pick some weeds from the roadside and present them to the Child King. When the little girl hesitated, the angel encouraged her, telling her that, Even the smallest gift from a heart that loves would make Jesus happy.

          In obedience, yet, still embarrassed, Pepita made a little bouquet of the weeds which she took into church later that night, shyly laying it at the bottom of the nativity scene.

          Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds no eye would heed burst into bright red flowers known today as poinsettias. It was a miracle seen by all present. The common and the ordinary was transformed into something of luminous beauty by pure, simple love. In that miracle, everyone at that time and over the centuries, and now, I, saw the kiss of heaven on a little urchin’s gift from the heart that sought nothing but to love her Saviour.

          It gave me the will and strength to hold my spirit to loving my Saviour just as Pepita had. When the 1st of December blew in on a blustery, rain-pearled wind, no pigeon flew in with it, bearing a message for me from heaven on how my retreat was to be.

          Yet, no disappointment even whispered by my heart. If my Advent retreat this time was to follow the child Pepita into the virginal bloom of each day, I would.

          If it was to fashion a bouquet, out of the weeds of my simple duties as mother, wife and friend, and then to lay it by my Jesus’ Heart each day’s end, then I would too.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter

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          The dark grey rain~morning of today began curiously enough for me. Today is Friday, yesterday was Thursday – the day we recite the Luminous Mysteries in the Rosary. And yesterday, while reciting the Rosary, I had allowed my mind to wander a little at the beginning. The gate of daydreaming that I cracked open so slightly quickly swung open wide. Soon, I tread two worlds: reciting the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, while at the same time, imagining house redecorating ideas.

          I winced a bit at the end and tried to rein in my far wandering thoughts but the damage had been done: house redecorating trumped Luminous Mysteries meditation.

          Turning in for the night, I told myself I had to recite the Rosary again – properly this time. What I had done was just too much. I didn’t want other doors to open as a result of it.

          But sleep claimed me swiftly and the next thing I knew, the last day of November was slowly lifting its grey lids, rising from old slumber.

          Undeterred, with a dawn rain softly falling through the sleep-sweetened night air, I lay on my pillow and said my Luminous Mysteries again, this time, turning each Mystery over in my mind as I threaded roses through them.

          The First Luminous Mystery – Christ’s Baptism at the River Jordan. I thought of water. Water had come up quite a bit for me in recent days. There was the much welcomed November rain. There had been chatter among friends about the using of the sacramental of holy water. November also brought back memories of a December 27th dream from last year where I was shown a bedroom in my home, filled with clear water, right up to the ceiling – water that filled, yet did no damage; water which then knocked me over as it overflowed out through open windows, into a lush, green garden where my mother-in-law was enjoying the plants with my husband, deep peace filling her slight form.

          And then I saw the words,

Momentarily overwhelmed.

I later shared about the Water Dream with my Godmother. That water in the dream signifies grace, she told me immediately. If so, it meant that I would be knocked over by grace. Certainly not the way I viewed ‘grace’. Over the months that followed, through each cycle of hurt and pain followed by strength and wisdom, my education on grace deepened, specifically – hidden grace. Disguised grace.

          The Second Luminous Mystery The Wedding Feast at Cana. I imagined the scene in my head. The embarrassment and consternation of the couple’s parents upon discovering that the wine had run out. The frantic scurrying around. The furtive whispers. I imagined Mother Mary lifting her gaze to the unfolding scene, her alertness. She must have heard the whispers, maybe even the sneers of a few as the news slowly made its rounds. She listened and determined. Then, she went to Jesus and told Him. I watched His ensuing obedience to the call of God through His Mother.

          Do whatever He tells you, says the Mother. Obedience again. Water to wine.

          The Third Luminous Mystery – The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. The old St. Jude dream of 2016 – the huge snow-white map in the blue sky. Then the little green church, my birth family safe inside. I was moving away when I heard and felt the exhortation,

Pray for others.

Pray for others. Proclaim the Kingdom of God.

          The Fourth Luminous Mystery – The Transfiguration. The snow white clothes. The thinning of the veil. Moses and Elias. The dead are alive again. A glimpse of what was to come. A glimpse of that glory, shown early to give strength and put hope firmly in place – because the blinding, searing despair that was to come soon would make anyone forget the glory that awaited shattered hearts.

          The Fifth Luminous Mystery – The Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Bread and Wine. Wine from water. Bread from the dough of sacrifice and the yeast of obedience.

          And then I felt the door shut. I could no longer press forward.

          I felt like I was now standing before that closed door, my hand on it, uncertain about what to do next. Uncertain but not troubled. A quiet curled within me.

          An old memory came unbidden. Of another Rosary recited some years ago. Deep in its meditation, not distracted, a still voice quietly slipped through,

The Luminous Mysteries is the Illumination of Conscience.

For years since I heard that voice I’ve puzzled over the message. How is the Luminous Mysteries the Illumination of Conscience? I wonder each time I recall the words.

          I wondered it again this morning as I lay in bed, What is the connection?

          But this time, in the quiet of the dark, shuttered by the silver curtain of falling rain, an unseen hand lined up the pearls before me:

Luminous. Illumination. Light.

It was so obvious and yet it hadn’t occurred to me before today. I pushed the closed door again to see if it would yield to my searching, but it didn’t. So I arose and went to my day.

          Someone had reminded me yesterday that it was time to begin the St. Andrew novena ~

St. Andrew Christmas Novena
(from 30th November up to and including Christmas Eve)

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.​

          I felt a movement in my spirit at the words piercing cold. We have no winter of biting cold and snow here so it wasn’t familiarity that tugged at me. But beyond that, as I didn’t feel the novena call out to me in a special way, I returned the prayer to its place.

          Throughout the course of the day, I went on several other little journeys. By the end of the day, a single word stood out in the crowd of thousands. A new one I’ve never before encountered spiritually:

Winter

          Piercing cold. Suddenly my old dream of the white map the blue sky crystallized before me. White map. Why was it white? I’ve asked and wondered so many, many times since I saw it on St. Jude’s Feast day two years ago. Today, after the Luminous Mysteries, it comes,

Some kind of snow

I was shown three places consecutively in that White Map dream: Africa, Europe, Asia. White Africa. White Europe. White Asia. Why white? Why three? I had asked heaven so many times.

Then, soon after the Feast of St. Jude this year, for the briefest moment, a sliver of light shone through the clouds.

Africa. Europe. Asia.

2016. 2017. 2018.

Shock had pierced me then. In every discussion with close friends, every time the veil thinned a little, this had never come up.

And now, shock swarmed through me again. White covered nations.

A Coming Winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

145

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When, over a long period of time, a soul has received much light and many inspirations, and when the confessors have confirmed the source of these inspirations and set the soul at peace; if its love is great, Jesus now makes it known that it is time to put into action what it has received.

The soul recognizes that God is counting on it, and this knowledge fortifies it.

It knows that to be faithful it will often have to face various difficulties, but it trusts in God and, thanks to this trust, it reaches that point to which God is calling it. Difficulties do not terrify it; they are its daily bread, as it were. They do not frighten or terrify the soul, just as a warrior who is constantly in battle is not terrified by the roar of the cannon.

Far from being frightened, it listens to determine from which side the enemy is launching his attack, in order to defeat him. It does nothing blindly, but examines and ponders everything deeply and, not counting on itself, it prays fervently and asks advice of other warriors who are experienced and wise. When the soul acts in this way, it nearly always wins.

There are attacks when a soul has no time to think or seek advice; then it must enter into a life-or-death struggle. Sometimes it is good to flee for cover in the wound of the Heart of Jesus, without answering a single word. By this very act the enemy is already defeated.

In time of peace, as well, the soul continues making efforts, just as in time of battle. It must exercise itself, and do so with energy; otherwise it has no chance of attaining victory.

I regard the time of peace as a time of preparation for victory.

The soul must be ever watchful; watchfulness and again, watchfulness. The soul that reflects receives much light.  ~   St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Entry 145

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek the Healer

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          Somewhere last week, after the spiritual leveling and emptying, a new urge took tiny root within me.

To seek Jesus for Himself

Not merely for what He could give me. But to seek Him as a friend and to be a consoler-friend to Him as well.

          I felt I needed to go beyond the habit of merely asking Him for everything under the red sun. That asking is not wrong, I know. In fact, not to go to Jesus is the most wrong thing I could ever do. Some folks say, Don’t trouble God.

          But I say, Trouble God all you want. The minute we stop, we are in trouble.

          This new development in me now, however, was to not just see Jesus as Jesus The Doer and The Giver. But to see Him as my beloved friend and to be that same friend to Him. Seek the Healer, not just the healing, as Susan Skinner writes, and she’s right. In a cherished and treasured relationship, the being there for the other, the quiet listening, the length and depths we go to, to comfort and love, the sacrifices we offer unstintingly – all take precedence over petitioning for help. It’s not that we shy away from asking for help; we just don’t limit the relationship to entreating all the time.

          And now, after a lifetime of going to Jesus just to seek succour, a single tiny bell is beginning to stir in the stillness left behind, its silver tinkles softly calling me to follow this new light.

          Seek the Healer, says my Angel.

          And then I suddenly understand. It is when we seek the Healer that we find the King.

 

 

 

 

Blessed Be God

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Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the One Who sits on the throne, Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the One Who sits on the throne and worship Him, Who lives forever and ever.   ~  Revelations 4: 9 – 10

          Something stirs lightly within me at these words of the 1st Reading from Revelations. When we glorify God, the 24 elders fall in worship before Him. I do not know what it means beyond what is stated, but even in its most basic interpretation, those verses stir the beginnings of awe in me: that my most meagre praises and thanksgiving  are multiplied in heaven. I begin the day in tentative praise,

Blessed be God, forever and ever

          I feel a slight, quick press of spirit in response to my first offering. Quick and then it is gone. I know I must follow, that it is up to me. This praise offering should have been a route I am familiar with, despite not traversing it enough.

          However, today, it feels as if I’ve never been here before. 

          Since last Wednesday, since the witching hour hammering at my gates, when a nefarious hideousness hovered for long seconds, suspended between my sleep and alertness, everything has changed. Since my broken scream, Where are you, God? Where are You? in response to the evil that came so close that night despite my struggles to hold fast to what is right – and with the gentle embrace of Heaven the next day, everything has lost its familiarity. It feels as if with that attempted encroachment, the past  – my knowledge, my understanding – has been erased by a mighty Hand. Structures – both good and bad – levelled, experiences wiped clean.

          I have to start afresh – but I’ve not been returned to the old starting point. This is a fresh start.

          It feels as if I must learn how to walk again. So, I get to my feet, wobbly and uncertain.

          And begin, Blessed be God, forever and ever.