HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

Lamp of Nazareth

          Deep in the old trenches of work once more, God came today to steer my heart to His Light.

          For a long time, February had been the month of Lourdes for me, in remembrance of Our Lady of Lourdes and her apparitions there. So, through the days of February, I try to live my hours as close to Her as my fickle self possibly can. Yet, given that I am once again back in the thick, thorny thickets of work, I did wonder more than once if this work year would be any different. My two superiors were back at it again – casually loading up our schedules, blatantly defying lockdown regulations, secure in the confidence that enforcement officers would baulk at coming so far out here to the boondocks to check on us.

          Mere weeks into the new year, I am already as tired as before.

          But the start of 2021 has not been bone-dried out of its miracles for me. For the first time in such a long while, I have woken up each day and gone out to work with a little skip in my step. Despite the amount of work set before us each day, I have gone to it with much enthusiasm. This was only possible due to the Christmas miracle of joy and rest and sufficient quiet.

          Yet, my spirit yearns for more. Not so much for a reduced workload as much as for freedom from tyranny – for it is back in full force now.

          The Lord has come to me many times to say:

Tell My people how much I love them. Tell My people that they are not alone and that I am with them. Tell My people that My Holy Spirit provides power, grace and love each day of their lives. Tell them miracles are there for them every single day, but they must look for them. They must expect them; they must want to experience My love.   ~ Look for Miracles Every Day, Steve Greco, Catholic Stand 

          Since reading those words, I have been spurred to tug at God’s robes to ask for more miracles. Each time I asked for miracles, I also asked His forgiveness for the thanklessness in my heart, if anything was blinding me to the many flowers already in bloom in my life this year.

          And of course, even as I pray, I have a very clear idea of what shape and form my miracles should take. I am, as ever, ready to give God the helping hand He doesn’t need.

          Two days ago, Jesus sent His spirit to open my eyes. One of my superiors stopped by my table with an unsettling gleam in her eye and casually put forth a proposition for me to extend my already long working hours and conduct yet another programme. I don’t know whether it was because I was already up to my eyes in work at that moment or if it was due to something else – but a calm yet firm refusal immediately sprang to my lips even before I could think up counter arguments. What I could see of her face above her mask tightened, obviously angered that I had dared to defy and refuse and she quickly moved on to seek support elsewhere.

          Coming home after work, I slumped to the floor, very, very tired. Dinner needed to be cooked, the younger kids needed help with studies and the house needed some cleaning. The birds were noisily chirping their evening farewells as they lifted into skies painted in swells of pink and tangerine. Even as I heard them, their songs I could not seek. There was no time to rest; yet, it was also too difficult to get up and to get going.

          Suddenly, an unseen hand pushed to memory a dream I had of this same woman last year. Of her entering my bedroom and stealing my rest. It was then that I realised that this superior needed to be fought off.

          And that Someone had done it for me that day.

Miracle

          But that superior is never one to take a rebuff well, and too soon, I was slightly beset with anxiousness about what traps she’d lay out for me next.

          Nonetheless, God was already ahead. The next day brought a bout of energy and a slice of wily wisdom. Covid came a little too close and some colleagues had to give up their work time. With some maneuvering, I could take on a bit more, freeing me from the need for extended hours. That put me out of the crosshairs of that woman.

Another little miracle.

          Then came the next miracle. Due to a colleague coming down with Covid, we came under the very scrutiny my boss was hoping to evade. He was then forced to allow us to work on a schedule that blended on-site work with working from home. That gave me 2 beautiful days of working from the peace and quiet of my little nest.

          Today was my first day of working from home and it filled me with tufts of early spring sweetness. Despite being up till past 1 a.m. working on reports and plans, I rose early in glee of being home. It was into this rising dawn within me that God told me something that I had not known before.

That the month of February was also dedicated to the Holy Family.

          And with that, God gently lit the Lamp whose light I was to follow. In my fears over work-related reprisals and doubts over the validity of my resistance, when guilt shadows me, whispering I must do more, more, more, my heart must flee to Nazareth. Into the hearts of Three who lived hard days within the untroubled sweetness of the Divine Will.

          Today, as every little feathered friend sought the dawn sun hidden within fleecy skies, He taught me once more that even as others seek to set their yoke upon me, my heart must be resolutely illumined by the Lamp of Nazareth.

          In the quiet of its humility, courage and obedience, lived unwaveringly by a Mother, a Father and a Son.

Book of Family

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          I have always been a task-oriented person, living with lists in my head, living for the addictive high of triumphant crossing off of items on list after list after list. When little or nothing got ticked off, the days were empty and dry and that colored my hours with the ochre of frustration. The Advent list is a formidable one. Every Advent, I’d stand, eyeing the horizon of weeks before me, with a grim determination to find my Christmas joy through the accomplishments of baking, cooking, cleaning, teaching, card-making, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

          I could only enjoy my husband and children if the home was in order, and if I had crossed enough off my list for the day.

          To slow down, to rest my spirit in the Advent hollows away from worldly winds, has never been easy. I have never really known Advent silence, never fully savoured its sacred fragrance. There was always something or someone from the world to draw me away from the pulse of true Christmas.

          And because I’ve never fully stilled my spirit in the deeps of Gloria angel~calls, I never saw that the hearts of my children and husband needed a special infilling of my presence. They yearned a different part of my love, one unsullied by rush, hurry and a crowding of days. More than the number of things I could cook them or do for them, my beautiful loves needed me to rest my heart in them, and not rush off before they had had their fill of me.

          But it was a bidding I could never completely fulfil, so deeply enmeshed was I in the web of busyness, woven from the strands of a hundred lists.

          Till this year.

          The months of seeking inner solitude lit a fresh pink dawn of difference. Ever since this Advent bloomed in the russet beauty of a year slowly edging to its yearned end, I sensed the closing of many doors. So many holiday-things – the books I had hoped to read, the cards I had hoped to make, the writing for my work that always got done in the winding down months of November and December – never materialized or were delayed.

          The past few years, I’ve always been brought a book that would take me on an inner retreat, right from the start of Advent. This had been my Lord’s way to prepare my heart and soul for Christmas.

          And, this year, like always, I waited for my book.

          What came was unexpected. The angels brought me the book of my very own Family.

          This Advent, I felt the firm tread of angels into my home, on a mission to take my heart and press it into the folds of my family. Never before have I been ‘buffeted’ from every angle, with family, as I have experienced this year. From the very first Advent morning, my husband and children have been before my eyes like never before. I am loving them and enjoying them and savouring their beauty as something I have always known, yet find new and fresh. I am doing all I have done before – all the cooking, the cleaning and the nurturing, and yet, there is a new lingering in embraces, a calm and happy savouring of little moments, delighting in shy buds of the precious that peek out through the day like tiny tea~roses amongst thorns and leaves alike.

          This Advent I learned the languidness that disdains the hurry to rush to the next call of worldly need.

          And suddenly, this unhurried loving has opened my eyes to the loving of other families around me. For the first time, I am not only seeing, but also finding life in witnessing the love that binds other parents and grandparents to their children and grandchildren. Where once, seeing this love would have tree-d a wistful ache within me for the same, now my spirit dances joy~swirls as I feast my eyes upon this faithful love of old blooming in other lives.

          The love within a family for one another, surpassed only by God’s love for us, dances before my new eyes, in a myriad of moves. The mother-in-law gently caring for her pregnant daughter-in-law. The trusting embrace of children secure in their father’s devotion. Old and worn grandparents giving to the last drop their love and caring for young grandchildren. The firm assurance of love of children leading their aged beloved down the steps, through the sunset of life. 

          True family love finds its soul through the treasuring of one another. True family love passes through tunnels of sacrifice, to arrive at wide pastures of love, blessed and nourished by the Lord of Love Eternal. Love for one another can never be forged through the absence of sacrifice and savouring. We can never love merely from the pulpit of advices and admonitions, distancing from the rigors of needed sacrifice. We cannot say we love if we are unable to press our own hearts against the little pulses of each family member’s daily journeys.

There is no real love without sacrifice. And when savouring and treasuring is diminished, love is blighted.

          We have lost much, my family and I. Many years spent in sorrowful servitude to parents who never knew what love meant. Nothing we did was ever enough for them. Grandparents who never trilled to little stories and small paws seeking old hands. The Baptisms and birthdays they missed and dismissed. Impatience at lives lived in quiet, away from worldly dictates. Mocking of the Holy Family values and simple joys we strived to live by, however imperfectly. We were the country bumpkins they were ashamed of because we eschewed city life and values. Our simplicity embarrassed them. They tried to polish us to fit into their wealthy and sophisticated social circles, but failed.

          And with that failure, their contempt knew no bounds.

          Yes, our loss has indeed be great, harder, because while they never loved us, we loved them with all our heart.

          Adult survivors of Narcissistic personality abuse live with the sneering and twisting voices of our jailers through too much of our lives. To escape, many of us keep busy.

Very busy.

          We live for lists. And we live for goals and achievements, because accomplishments hush the contempt of our narcissistic jailers who raised us to believe we were useless and incapable. For many of us, this busyness we escape to, blinds and deafens us to much of the healing beauty and truth in the world.

          But this Advent, the bitter potency of what my children and I have endured and lost through narcissistic parents, has slowly begun to mist into oblivion. The sorrowing wounds left behind by countless hackings, washed and bound by lives lived right, by the many people who simply choose to love their children and grandchildren.

          It is a choice based on the pure love of God. These good people may not be conscious of it, but it is a fact that when we love with a purity not shadowed by narcissism, we love with the Love of God.

          As I watch this love, I realize I have to make a conscious choice to move away from busyness and instead savour and enjoy my family. And when I begin, a miracle pearls in my own life – the miracle of Healing. As I heal, so too my family, through the witness of faithful love of other, true parents and grandparents. All loving their families as it was meant to be. Strangely, although we are not the immediate recipients of this love in other families, just seeing the way they have chosen to love, is streaming life and healing into our own wounds.

           I number among those struck blind and deaf from the hurt of abuse by those God chose to be my parents. But I believe in Jesus and Jesus promised that the blind will see and the deaf will hear. 

          That tender promise is blooming true in me now. Rather than seeking self-worth through accomplishments and meaningless servitude, I am willfully choosing to love and savour my family by lingering in family moments.

          And I am healing through each rose~blushed page turned, as I take the time to read my own book of family.