May Christ support us all the day long,
till the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then in His mercy
may He give us a safe lodging,
and holy rest.
and peace at the last. Amen.
This is the world and life I long for. This living where hard work and faith are entwined, and honest fulfilment of the day’s duties is met with holy rest and night’s peace when the sun goes to its crimson rest. This is what life should be, pure, sweet and simple, tenderly nourishing the listening soul, beauty lived in the heart of God.
But as I learned anew yet again yesterday, this is not the life sought by enough people. All through the hours of yesterday’s Sunday, there was an unsettledness in spirits that even the clouds in the skies reflected, shifting from dense to wispy to rain~bellied. There were smiles which didn’t touch the eyes, and eyes that refused to meet. There were hearts that refused to care and still more that supported this wrong. While people didn’t quite rush about in the madness they were usually addicted to, there was something else in the air, in hearts, in Christian spirits mostly, that troubled my own spirit. What is it? I asked God.
But I just couldn’t reach the heart of this troubling to understand it. I couldn’t touch it in order to pray about it. I couldn’t even pray! As soon as I began my attempt, the airs swirled even faster around me, clouding and blinding. Little things riled me and I slid into traps of petty annoyances. The more I justified my irritation, the redder I got, and the less I was able to be thankful for the little purses of beauty God had embroidered into my hours.
Finally, fed up with myself, I hauled myself out of the cages I had willingly trotted into. I still couldn’t pray properly but I held on to my Rosary beads for the Christmas Wreath for as long as I could. I forced myself to sink my spirit into gratitude, for the merry laughter of my children as they helped with baking, for the shared stove as my husband and I cooked together.
There was no miracle lifting of the cloak of thorns that had formed from my early Sunday hours. Yet, slowly and surely, the pricking dissipated, taking with it any happiness I had within me but also leaving my spirit in an undisturbed stillness.
It was then that an old question welled up in me again, What is the sin that can never be forgiven, that which is called Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
And with it, formed a sobering reply:
The hardened conscience.
A hardening that is neither sudden nor forced, but which begins with a personal, willful deafening and blindness to the Call of God to love and to obey. One turning away followed by the next. Slowly, stealthily, relentlessly.
I looked back over the old, gone hours of the day, this time seeing what I had not comprehended. I saw the people I had met. The old woman who always had compliments for my husband and I, but whose sugared tongue and carved smile served as a front for a begging to feed a hidden habit. The relative with the cheerful words and hard eyes who now hastened to get away from us because we once chose our marriage and family over him. The woman who sneered at her husband’s simplicity, honesty and gentle love over the years and who refused to care for him in his declining years because she believed he had no right to be ill and to visit that suffering upon her. Who led her daughter by silent example to do the same to her own husband decades later.
I thought of parents who chose their children over Jesus. And of children, now adults, returning that teaching by choosing loves over Jesus.
I saw what was not obvious before. Every one of it was the hardening of the conscience. The killing of the Light.
And God had allowed me to be touched by air stained by that hardening.
As a warning to me that all sin begins with a single No, and that neither I nor anybody is exempt from the danger of losing our souls. And through this warning and personal repentance, that I would be pierced with His sorrow and seek to console Him.
The Christmas Rosary~Wreath beckons for its next bloom. Gone are the schmaltzy ideas for it that I had entertained, for the antidote for the hardening of the conscience is not pretty or whimsical. The Wreath calls for blooms of perseverance, humility and obedience. To suffer loving when it is hardest.
Hard~flowers as a gift for the King.