LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR

Lent 29 ~ Her Name is N

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Your prayer intercession for N is pleasing to Me because it is an act of love.​   ~  In Sinu Jesu

 

          After a stretched and harried workday, the last thing I wanted was to make that long drive to the city. The only thing in favour of the trip was that I would have a chance to go to church, my first time since the 3rd week of January when my country went into lockdown again. That I would be able to spend the feast day of St. Joseph in a silent church before my Hidden Jesus, firmed my resolve further.

          The hot winds tossed and leapt in the blue skies above the seaside city as I got down from the car. I was so very happy to be back. It has been close to 2 months of hardly any quiet alone time and I was longing so much just to be alone. Entering church and settling down, for an hour, I got just that. No interruptions. Just the muted sounds of passing traffic and the chirping of happy birds in pursuit of living. Quiet and chatty in turns, I laid bare my whole heart to Jesus, even as I listened for His words. 

          Presently, barrel emptied, I picked up my copy of In Sinu Jesu, allowing the words to thread through me. Soon, it would be time to begin the journey home, to return to all that awaited me, the beautiful as well as the difficult.

Speak to me, Jesus, I prayed, if it be Thy will. Don’t let me go back without hearing You.

          Paragraph after paragraph, page after page, words flowed but nothing remained within me. I didn’t pause to try and go deeper either. Several times, I reminded myself that the words I was reading were God’s to the monk – not me – because I didn’t want to imagine that a word was for me. If God wanted to speak to me, He would make His voice heard and I would somehow know it.

          But God didn’t speak and yet, my peace was not disturbed. It was one of those rare times when I was fully trusting Him. I read on a bit more and then, saw that it was time to pack up.

          Just then, a thought occurred to me. So many lives would have been different had the people known of Jesus and felt His love. And I thought about my colleague from work who continues to make my life a misery due to the jealousy within her. Back in the day when we were close, on occasion, I used to share with her my walk with Jesus. Unlike the others whose eyes would narrow and lips tighten, my friend always listened earnestly. She knew I was not in the business of trying to convert her to my faith. She knew that I respected her faith and that she had nothing to fear from me.

          And yet, something in her faith was justifying what she was doing to me, a Christian.

          I decided I would bring my friend to Jesus. Shutting my eyes, I imagined her sitting beside me, right in front of the Tabernacle, before Jesus’ eyes. I offered her heart to Jesus. After a few moments, I returned to my book.

          Suddenly, without warning, a line appeared and shot its arrow right through my heart.

          Your prayer intercession for N is pleasing to Me because it is an act of love.​ 

          This monk, N, had been mentioned several times before and my spirit had never been moved. This time though, a jolt went through me. I knew then that this time, Jesus had meant those words for me.

          Because my friend’s name begins with N.

Lent 15 ~ Change

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          On the second day of my Holy Spirit Rosary, I had intended to pray and meditate on the Second Sorrowful mystery – Jesus’ Scourging at the Pillar. But try as I might, I just couldn’t anchor my heart in it. Instead, I felt strongly drawn to the first and second Glorious Mysteries – The Resurrection and The Ascension. As I prayed those mysteries instead, I felt myself sink into them. There I stayed, waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak.

          All was still.

          After some minutes of forcing myself to be still, I began what I always do – digging. I scratched and dug into the earth of those Mysteries, seeking a reply that obstinately clung to secrecy.

          Of course, one doesn’t order the Holy Spirit around. So, I got nothing for my efforts.

          After waiting some more and not hearing anything, I rose to go to my day. That was when I felt a slight prick.

Change.

          Death to life in the Resurrection. Earth to heaven in the Ascension. Yes, that was change. But what did it mean for me? I was impatient to know.

          When no answer was forthcoming, I became suspicious. I doubted that it was the Holy Spirit. ‘Change’ was rather obvious. I expected to be hit on the head, caught by the heart, that sort of thing. Not though by something as unsurprising and as mundane as… change. It must have been me. Again. Just me.

          But change was like a dog that had just found its beloved master – it followed me everywhere, all through the rush and inert heat of the next day. I dismissed it as being akin to an irritating, inane lyric of a song that plays on and on in your mind.

          Yet, from time to time, I sneaked glances at the 2 Mysteries, wondering if they held a secret not yet divined to me. Change. What change? Was I being asked to change? If so, what was the connection between this and the 2 Glorious Mysteries?

          Then, I recalled reading somewhere, Christian faith is to believe in the Resurrection.

Resurrection. Ascension. The afterlife. That hope doesn’t end with death.

          I still couldn’t connect it to change, not in a deeper way that would point to it being from the Spirit for me.

          A long and draining day came to an end and I drove home in relief. Some of my children had been away with my husband for much of the week. I had missed them. They would be returning later in the night and the other kids and I were looking forwards to having our beloveds close to us again.

          In the midst of that anticipation, came a sharp sting, shot straight out of a selfish heart. It caught me square in the middle. Someone wanted me to choose between my family and her demands. I chose my family and of course, there was a price to pay. In a flash, she fired two darts at me. With the snap of a winter twig, flames shot out of my own heart at this unfairness.

          So much for the peace and gentleness that had come into me heart; I hadn’t moved on from anything. I was just who I’ve always been and always will be, dry kindling just waiting for the lick of the tiniest flame.

          Suddenly, a mist rose up inside me. Something within me began to fight back to hold on to the peace in me. As I battled my anger and myself, I suddenly understood what change of the Resurrection and the Ascension meant:

          If I truly believed in the Resurrection and in the Ascension, then I had to live that belief by changing. Change had to come before anything else.

          I made my next choice easily. I chose change. I chose to move from anger to forgiveness. From anger to mercy. From revenge to leaving it in Jesus’ heart.

          But it was incredibly hard to remain in this change. Old habits don’t go easily into the night. I fought and fought the whole length of night. Even when I awakened in the hush of a new morn blessed by the embrace of rain, remnants of anger still mottled my heart.

          I battled on. Over and over, I went to the edge, then drew back. I searched my memory for a battle prayer and found one,

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

Have mercy on me,

Have mercy on her.

          Have mercy on her because this was a woman caught by the lure of money. What she said to me was all due this blindness in her mind and heart, caused by the enticement of easy money.

          It was so much easier to dislike her, to remember what she had previously done to me and to fight a battle from the angle of a victim. But something had taken over me now; it was as if God was directing my heart, No, this has to be fought differently.

          Although she had hurt me, I had to change tactics and fight for us both.

Blood and Water,

Heart of Jesus,

Have mercy on me,

Have mercy on her.

          I said that prayer all the way to work. Many times, I caught myself planning what to say to her if she confronted me. Each time, I ran and placed my plans in Jesus’ heart, Not my will but Thine be done. All I did ask of God was that He gift me with silence because my tongue was always my greatest undoing.

          It was late morning when she came to me, with tears in her eyes and a gentle hand on my arm, admitting her selfishness in what she had asked of me, in her unspoken words, an apology of sorts.

          Just like that, everything was over.

          I learned the lesson so many have learned long before. That in a hurting, there are always two victims – the wounded and the wound-er. In my life, I’ve mostly battled as a victim.

          It’s now time to change, to accept  and conquer my Everest of struggles – that from now on, I fight myself by fighting for my wound-er.