Easter

Waters of Grace

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          Yesterday, I came across a prayer by Pope Francis:

Lord, roll back the stone in my heart

          It’s Easter now. The time of fasting and sorrowing over our sins is supposedly over. The Lord has risen, and by right we are to be all light and joy.

          But here I was, stuck in an unbeliever’s world – not because I do not believe – but because something was holding me outside the circle of Light.

          The Lord has risen but I was still in the tomb.

          I went ahead and (unenthusiastically) said the prayer, Lord, roll back the stone in my heart. Frankly, I was unhappy to pray the prayer. I didn’t like to admit that stones might still be stacked up God knows how high in my heart. It’s as if Lent didn’t work out for me. Everyone else has done their spiritual cleaning and de-stoning during Lent; here I was, wondering if I was only just beginning!!

          Maybe it’s because of the Roll back the stone prayer, but last night, my thoughts returned to the hymn, He, and the refrain,

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live,

He will always say, I forgive.

          In the last week of Lent, seeing no hope of change in my place of work, I opened my heart and asked God if it were not possible for just a little kindness. I wasn’t asking for much, I reasoned, because before, I had asked for much more. Before this, I had asked to be allowed to leave this town due to its rejection of me and my family for our Christian values. I asked to leave because it’s been 20 plus years of trying to live out our witness to our faith. More than 2 decades of welcoming the people of this town into our hearts. Of suffering with them. Of journeying with them, respectfully, in the ecumenism of different faiths.

          Yet, the long and bitter years to love as Jesus asked have not  changed this place nor its people for the better. If anything, this town and its inhabitants are becoming increasingly radicalized. They have begun turning on us for refusing to cross over to their side, for steadfastly choosing Jesus. Exhausted from navigating upheaval after upheaval, I asked to leave.

          But this year, God made His voice heard on that petition. He told me that if we left, this town would never know Jesus again.

          It broke my heart to hear that. It was not what I wanted. But I never prayed that prayer again because disappointed or not, some part of me bowed in obedience to God’s will.

          Suddenly, last night, hours after the prayer of Roll back the stone in my heart, I decided that the next new day, every time someone hurt me, every time a situation made me want to run and hide, I would face it in silence and allow it to pierce me instead.

          And I would pray, Jesus, forgive me. Even if I had done no discernible wrong, that would be my prayer for the next day.

          No prizes for guessing how the day worked out.

          I tripped the very minute I stepped into my work place. I came face to face with the colleague who’s made my life a misery for years. I don’t normally see her so early in the day but there she was, bright and early, primed for malice.

          The second I saw her, I didn’t remember anything about rolling back any stone. I didn’t remember the purposing of my day for atonement. Instead, I distinctly felt my heart inflame and harden remembering the injustices she has meted out.

          Scant minutes later, I belatedly remembered the response I had planned. Fed up with myself, I honestly wanted to bin the intention of the previous night. What was the point anyway, I never seemed to move beyond the biggest rocks in my life.

          But a promise to God was a promise. So, I bowed my heart and listlessly prayed,

Jesus, forgive me

          Although I knew I had done this colleague no wrong, although I had loved her with all my heart for more than 20 years and didn’t deserve this bulling and abuse of our friendship, once more I forced myself, as self-inflicted penance, to repeat,

Jesus, forgive me

          Then something strange began to happen.

          Kindness began to trickle my way – not from this colleague, but from others. It may not have seemed like much, but it was a lot to me. I had prayed for kindness the week before, just enough to be able to go on. Then, I had shushed myself, fearing that prayer was a rejection of my Cross.

          But strangely, unexpectedly, a pure spring now gently silvered into my day and my burdens lifted. Although almost every day before this had been difficult, now it seemed as if the walls of the day no longer bore nails to hurt.

          For some moments, I struggle to understand what I did to deserve this reprieve. And then, I realise that it’s not about what I’ve done. This is grace. Jesus was pierced as He hung on the Cross. Blood and water had flowed from that pierced side.

          The miracle of kindness I experienced today was that water of grace that came from the piercing of my Jesus’ body. As often as I pray with heart and soul, Jesus, forgive me, not the easy prayer in idle moments free of pain and hurt, BUT praying each time I face piercing, the stone in my heart rolls back further and further.

          2 years ago, at Christmas, I had dreamt of water filling a room in my home right to the ceiling. I had opened my door and the powerful rush of that clear water had knocked me down. I had then felt the words,

Momentarily overwhelmed

          I now know what it means. Opening the door means to roll back the stone in my heart. And I will be knocked down by the in-rushing waters of grace when my spirit bends in humility as I pray,

Jesus, forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Bend

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          I asked God a few days back why no song has been laid on my heart for months now. Then, at the moment of my rising today, the angels brought this old hymn. As Easter rises hollow and empty for me, I searched the lines of the hymn for His Light for me.

He

He can turn the tide or calm the angry sea,
He alone decides who writes a symphony.
He lights ev’ry star that makes our darkness bright
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time to hear a child’s first prayer,
Saint or sinner calls and always finds him there.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true,
He can paint the clouds and turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end,
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.
He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold
He knows ev’ry lie that you and I have told.

Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live, He’ll always say, “I Forgive”.

 

          I asked God which of those lines is meant for me. I expected it to be, He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end, given the significance of rainbows in my life of late.

          Instead, this was His answer,

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.

 

 

 

 

Call of the Easter Wind

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          In the sun bloom of Easter in pilgrim hearts, there is felt in many, a stirring. For many, a bell~chime to deeper prayer. A spirit gentled to love. A nudge towards Truth.

          And for some, an unmasking. Of ourselves. Of others.

          Bit by bit, the winds unclip the covers we cower behind, and the veil begins to slip. Our sins and gifts alike, shone upon by a new Light, granting us a seeing into roads of past, and the new walk we are now called to. Fear is not the response sought of us, but a spirit that is freshened and humbled by the outpouring of Easter grace feels within it a new strength – an Easter strength – to face the graves of the past; a strength to trace in faith, the mist-wrapped paths ahead.

          The Easter blessings are there for one and all, to weather in courage, all that lie ahead, remembering in holy humility, the missteps of the past – guideposts for the future.

          Bit by slow bit, the winds come. To lift the sand grains that obscure our seeing of the true nature and intent of others. Slowly, the sands are brushed aside, and truth lifts towards us. We finally see people for they are

          We might see what we never imagined.

          We might see what we always suspected.

          We might see what we’d rather not.

          Pleasant or hurting, the Unmasking, – of ourselves, of others – is a grace we do not always receive in joy, in graciousness and in the humility of learning. Yet, receive it we must, because to continue believing in a falsehood simply because it is more comforting, because it troubles us less, is to live in a lie. There is no real nourishment to be found in pearls tumbling off a lying tongue. There is neither life nor hope in being tied to the wolves of pretense, deception and subterfuge – in us, and in others.

          When the Easter winds lift their call to our souls, we must seek the courage and will, to ponder the windnotes and what they bring to bear on our lives. We must seek heavenly discernment, even among bitter breezes. For they come not empty.

          Instead, hidden within, are the revelation lamps, to light what lies ahead for us.

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GIFT FOR MY KING?

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On Good Friday, I was tired and irritable from a tough 2 weeks. With Easter only hours away, I was dissatisfied with my Lenten practices.

As we prayed the night’s Rosary, I asked Jesus dejectedly, Lord, what would You have me bring to Your Table? Dry and almost empty inside, I was to approach the Throne of God with empty hands, no gift did I have for my King.

In the early hours of Easter Vigil morn, I had a dream. I dreamed of people and situations somewhat similar to what my husband and I were facing now, that which was bringing us much frustrations. But unlike our actual reactions, in the dream, we did not lose our calm. There was a serenity as we faced each situation, even a cheer, although deeply cognizant of the wrong present in those situations. We took the wrong in our stride; we did not fall by the side.

In the dream, we were a people of hope, in careful and obedient tracing of the path of Jesus.

Very unlike reality– we were frustrated, hurting and struggling.

The dream continued. When the slideshow of sorts ended, I found myself back in my bedroom, lying back on the pillows. The room was dark. All of a sudden, a big ball of bright white light appeared high before me. I felt myself being lifted towards the light.

I had no fear.

But an immediate prayer escaped on my breath: Jesus, take care of my family!

Immediately, I was lowered gently back onto my pillows.

I awoke from my sleep later, still tired but not drained. I began my day with prayers and reflection, calm and purposeful, unlike the usual distracted state I am in usually. Work got done with nary a hint of carping. Home got a good cleaning, fresh sheets for the beds, kids’ clothes all ironed, laundry done.

But the White Light stayed before me. In every chore done, I saw that light. I felt being lifted up. I felt the soft sheets beneath me again.

I pondered. I questioned.

No Word from my Lord, yet.

My life – the various tensions, the beauty of domesticities, – are they the gifts He asks of me?

Do I seek to give Him what I think is right, but not what He actually wants of me?

Does He instead want the mundane and the blighted hopes, the struggles and thwarted good intentions?

Does He wish for His gift my climb up Calvary, my stumbles and missteps, the bruises and tears?

Did my Lord come to me in that bright white Light, lifting me to Him to ask that I gift Him with myself?

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