SPIRITUAL ENDURANCE

Lent 8 ~ Endure for a While

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So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.   ~  1 Peter 1: 6

 

          This morning, part of this verse appeared in Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead

          I had been seeking Jesus’ answer for something important to our family, and to read that verse right at that moment did me a world of good.

          So, I understandably drooped when I saw the rest of the verse,

…even though you must endure many trials for a little while

          It’s just not in me to love my trials, patience and endurance one of my many sticking points. But I grudgingly admit that joy is sweetened only by trials endured in the right spirit.

          I saw this demonstrated in a small way some years back. Most of us had been so involved in various endeavours to eject the ruling party in our country. We took our politicians’ campaigns into hostile and indifferent heartlands, working feverishly, doing whatever we could to win every vote. And when we finally won, the joy we experienced was indescribable. For the first time, we were united as a country, ecstatic in finally sharing a single bloodline of true brotherhood.

          But one of my colleagues had little to do with that struggle. She had always had a weakness for gossip and news that singed the ear, and in the tense weeks in the lead up to the election, instead of trying to do something meaningful, however small, she took it upon herself to dig up nuggets of unsavoury, empty news about the townspeople’s political affiliations. While it didn’t detract from our efforts, it did nothing to help either. Yet, despite seeing the work that was being done and how much was still left to be done, it didn’t move her to try and contribute in a more positive way.

          When the sun finally rose for this land, beyond a polite smile, I found I could shared none of my joy with her. None of the excited analysis, not a single victory anecdote – simply because it felt flat to do so with someone who had not really been a part of your struggle. We couldn’t talk statistics or political demographics – her eyes would glaze over, waiting for me to stop, to bring in some yellow angle.

          Somehow, she got to know of the big dinner I managed to cook for the family as a celebration. Eager not to be left out, she went out with some other likeminded friends of hers for a celebration dinner, and the next day, proceeded to inform me about it. But there was no masking it for either of us. The emptiness of it was evident. Not having worked for it, she could barely scratch the surface of the national jubilance.

          That victory did so much for so many of us. Although many returned to old prisons and old problems after that night of joy, we did so with the fire of hope burning fiercely within us. We loved better and we forgave easily. That fire changed the way we worked and lived, because we knew that even if there was none yet in some of our homesteads, there was wonderful joy ahead.

          For eschewing the call of the struggle and preferring the languid ease of a ringside seat, my friend, sadly, was a stranger to that glorious fire of hope. Hence, in a very short while, she returned to her bitter and vicious roots, caught up once more in pettiness and trivialities.

          Tomorrow is a momentous day for our family – and for thousands of others across the country. Thinking about my friend and what she lost out on by staking her claim on joy without earning it, the second half of the verse – you must endure many trials for a little while – loses its tiny sting. Because my heart now knows that joy is sweetened only by trials endured in the spirit of hope and faith.

          I may be a woman of little faith, but I’m not worried, for God has enough for me. By His grace, I will reach that summit of wonderful joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 18 ~ Remember Hope

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          A silver rain beat down on our roof very early in the morning. Looking out at the freshened skies a little later, I saw a tiny fire~rainbow smile at me from the depths of a blue cloud.

Remember hope

whispered the rainbow before it returned to its Maker.

          A missing blouse. Hours of a precious morn gone. A recurring health issue. Having to travel when I’d rather stay home. My husband is tired, weary from troubles. Unpleasant local and international news.

Remember hope

          It’s easy to let go and fall, if just a little. It’s tempting to want to lower prayer~arms just for a bit. To lay my head down awhile and mourn all that will not be.

          But a rainbow came, at the smile of day, to bid me remember hope. My God’s sign that He understands the day might be a little tough, that there might be more of such days on the necklace of weeks and months to come.

          And so I will, in obedience, remember hope.

 

 

 

 

 

Endure

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Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened,
you endured a great contest of suffering.
At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction;
at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated.
You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison
and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property,
knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what He has promised.   ~   Hebrews 10: 32 – 36

 

          More than a week ago at Mass, after the miracle of the birdsong, I went eager to hear what more Mother Mary wanted of me – in addition to the praise even in winter – that She asked of me. I had a strong feeling there was something more. All through the journey, later at Mass, I listened and listened.

          A sudden light beamed out of a side I never expected – the response to the Responsorial Psalm,

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

          I sat mute before them. I thought there was something I needed to do in response to that pulse of light but I couldn’t imagine what. In retrospect, I should have prayed those words, over and over, till I got my answer, or until the Angel pressed his hand over my spirit. But I didn’t. I just sat and stared at the words. Because I was waiting for something more specific to my seeking, What do You ask of me at my place of work?

          Mass ended and I felt the clouds continue to swirl in my heart. No clear and direct answer did I receive.

          Still, I wasn’t disappointed nor frustrated. The robin~miracle of the morning as well as the January work weeks of unusual inner quiet and immense strength, were before me. Something had begun for me in the fresh year. Something unexpected, not of my doing.

A stirring of a spring, an underground spring.

          Yet, I needed to be really sure. When we’ve been hit and hurt so much, sometimes, all we do is wait for the next blow to fall, even as we hope it will never come. We make the mistake of limiting hope to the smallness of that. Or that we escape. Or somehow survive. Sometimes, the kind of hope we’re capable of just cannot stretch beyond that.

          But I couldn’t turn a blind eye to January either. This strange January where an Unseen Hand had lit a tiny flame, hidden beneath the winter’s freeze. A flame of pure, quiet strength. Of a state of recollection I have seldom experienced before. A flame tiny yet strong, burning steadily, yet hidden deep within the cold breast of winter.

          I didn’t dare hope – but this was a clear call to hope. And no matter how afraid I was that this was merely a temporary reprieve, that the blows and rocks would rain down again soon enough, this strange secret flame, thawing the ice quietly, producing a clear, pure hidden spring that each day filled me with  wisdom, vigour and strength, was a whisper, yet paradoxically loud, strong and clear – that something has begun to stir in my life, even if all around me was the ice of old.

          It was this that filled me with a powerful certainty that even as I was beseeching  heaven for hope for my call, something was being asked of me as well. Praise – and something else. Just what, I didn’t know, my inner seas swelling in a restlessness that refused to be quelled by anything except an answer from heaven.

          Hours later, unable to go any further, I released my hold on my seeking. I had asked all I could. So, I finally rested my will and retreated to wait.

          At that moment of relinquishment, I heard a whisper. An almost inaudible breath against my heart.

Endure.

          Endure. A word, heard at any other time, would have produced waves of frustration, that after all the promise and allurement, it was to the old that I had to return to, not something new and vibrant; but back to all that was worn, rusting, dying – yet possessed with an infernal power to kill slowly.

          But no despair touched me as endure alighted gently upon my heart. Because endure was God’s reply to me. It was Spirit, Life itself, come to tell me to

Endure to do the will of God,

Endure till the rainbow dawns,

Endure till the Promise comes.

 

 

 

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.