ST BERNADETTE SOUBIROUS

Winter Pruning

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         Right in the midst of our Christmas family gathering, I heard the call of the dove clearly. Nothing new, but significant because the state of busyness I was in, it was near impossible to have heard this gentle, unobtrusive call. And yet, I heard it.

          Immediately, my thoughts went to the verses that follow me everywhere,

… the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, My beloved, My beautiful one,
and come!   ~   Song of Songs 2: 11 – 13

          Every line promises light and sun and happiness. You could almost hear the wind sing through the trees and the warmth of the sun dance on your skin.

          But one line strays from the sunny promises,

the time of pruning the vines has come

Even if pruning is needed in order to increase blooms and fruit, sorrow before joy, it is still about pain. That makes the verse different from the others. Different in a way that makes me shrink back a little because I am so tired of pain.

          This morning, out in the sun~warmed breezes that sang in giddy glee, a wee dove hiding in the star~tree clucked out its little verse. I left what I was doing and went to sit beneath that tree. Searching for the little one, willing her to tell me what this all means, I found her. She hopped thoughtfully along a branch, muttering to herself. I watched her until the gold~green breezes tickled the leaves that hid my little dove.

          Noticing for the first time the thick foliage that hid this little one, for the first time too, I thought about the time of pruning.

The best time to prune grapevines is during late winter, usually February, while the vine is dormant and before growth begins in the spring. – Jessica Strickland

Late winter.

Usually February.

While the vine is dormant.

 Before growth begins.

In the spring.

          February. Month of Lourdes. 

Humble, holy, hidden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every Tear

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          O most merciful heart of my Jesus, accept each of my tears, every cry of pain, as a plea for those who suffer, for those who weep, for those who forget You. ~ St. Bernadette Soubirous

 

 

 

 

LENT 1 ~ Humble, Holy, Hidden

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          Whenever the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes gently asks remembrance, my thoughts always lead to the Lourdes seer, St Bernadette Soubirous, and the three little goldpearls which describe this saint and her life ~ Humble, Holy, Hidden. A life led only to seek God, taking nothing for herself – no accolade, no comfort, no elevation.

          In my mind, I see my plans and ambitions, the career moves I pursue. The prayers prayed against the holy will of God. I recall my anger and disappointment at thwarted hopes. In my responses, in each of them, I had cast aside humility ~ the diamond of heaven, seeking instead the false gold of the world. It is a dangerous foolishness I have sought with vigour, but must now desist if I am to see heaven some day.

          For St Bernadette, God was her only consolation through poverty, suffering, sorrow and humiliation because she allowed herself no other comfort. God was the only light she yielded to. 

My God I love You, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength.

          Hers is a journey I am beginning only now. To make God my all, as Bernadette once did. But how hard it is, how deep the craggy rocks of obedience and holiness cut into my bare soles. The pain is felt ever so deeply because I do not love enough. Too much of me is still attached to this world and its sordid allures. Yet, although I have not completely surrendered to the will of my Lord, I can at least pray her prayer to pave the way. My God I love You, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength. And even if my heart has not fully yielded, it will begin to.

          This journey of mine, into the heart of God, must be hidden, for the most part. Hidden to not incur unnecessary derision and hurt. Hidden to protect me from pride. Hidden to keep my seeking pure, unsullied by blighted sight and impure motives. This hiddenness costs me, though. It brings with it loneliness and aloneness. The steeper the climb gets, the fewer the companions, lesser the comfort of pilgrim empathy and understanding.

          This journey of the soul, from earth to heaven, should never be like an interrupted train journey, undertaking and disembarking on a whim although it pauses at many stations, weakening at the behest of capricious winds. It is one that calls for resoluteness and stoicism, though many its tumbles and falls. Humble, holy, hidden is an arduous, yet joyful journey, leading to an embrace of life that will see heaven some day and bring souls the peace yearned for – that which surpasses understanding.