Friday, January 30, 2015

The Now In My Heart

I've gotten to the point where I can barely pray or read scripture. I'm not mad at God for what's happening to my mother now. I don't feel scared, but I don't really feel protected by God either. I'm alone, but I don't really feel alone. I just "am". People's prayers are welcome & kind, but none of them seem to pierce the reality of  the "now". And I think that's ok... I think. Perhaps God is so big in the "now" that it would be impossible to see Him anyway. Maybe this experience is like walking up to a giant pixelated screen, where all you see are little squares made of colour & light. They all interact & fit together somehow & as one moves away from the screen, the picture, the story, emerges. Right now, maybe God is too close to see.... but as I step back, I will see more. I feel neither comfort nor anxiety from the thought. The extemporaneous is being stripped away. Reality, it seems, is no longer comprised of the world around me, but the "now" within my heart... tiny pixels of colour & light.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Joyful Mysteries In Time of Sorrow

My mother recently spent some time in the hospital after a fall in her home. When she arrived, she wasn't able to speak or open her eyes. No one knew what had happened or how long she had been out on the floor. Was it a stroke? A heart attack? Did she simply lose her balance? Naturally, as the only child living 500 miles away, I was beside myself. Mom improved, got moved to rehab a few days ago & asked me to come & "fall proof" her home. Its estimated that she spent 2 days on the floor with her right arm pinned beneath her. As a result, she has limited control of her right hand. She also can't be mobile without the assistance of a walker. Her memory is spotty & we seem to have many of the same conversations over & over. The doctors believe high blood pressure was the main cause of her fall, but no one seems to know anything definitive yet. Its a bit frustrating.

Today I went for a walk in the park I used to traipse through 20 years ago. I tried to pray, but kept getting side tracked with thoughts of "what if"... It was then that I heard that still small voice encourage me to pray the Rosary. Today was the day to pray the Joyful Mysteries, of all things. I wondered what good it could possibly do. I faltered through the first few Hail Marys, distracted by people or dogs or birds. But as I finally got my train of thought connected to the prayers, I began to hear that still small voice even more clearly...

1st Mystery/Annunciation:
Mary said "Yes" to God & bore Jesus, Who bore our sins.
What fruit will my "yes" to this situation bring? Help me say "Yes" to Your will & trust that the fruit of saying "yes" will work for my good & the good of those around me.

2nd Mystery/Visitation:
The Saviour of the world was being formed in Mary's womb.
Elizabeth's babe leaped within her as Mary approached. There was such joy between them.
But there is no joy here. What's being formed in my mom & in me through these recent events? Its going to be a change... a new life for both of us. Can I rejoice in what that change will bring? Can I live out my "Yes" to God?

3rd Mystery/Nativity:
The birth of Jesus was announced by angels & shepherds came to see Joseph, Mary & the Child. Perhaps the shepherds offered food or a cloak to keep the little Babe warm.
Even when I feel alone, I'm not. God will provide "shepherds" to take care of me... Who might those "shepherds" be? Family? Friends? Perhaps even a quiet, warm walk in the park to regroup or a much needed nap?

4th Mystery/Presentation:
Mary & Joseph presented Jesus in the temple, offering sacrifice & receiving the blessing of the priest.
How can I present the fledgling fruit of my circumstance to God? What might I have to sacrifice? Will there be a blessing for me (or my mom or my family or some stranger years down the road) in all this?

5th Mystery/Finding in the Temple
When He was 12 years old, Jesus stayed behind in the temple (unbeknownst to Mary & Joseph). They searched frantically for 3 days before they finally found Him.
I must remember that God's timing isn't mine. Had Mary & Joseph been attentive to Jesus & waited, they would not have experienced such an acute sense of loss & anxiety. God, help me to be attentive to You & abide by Your timing.

When all was said & done, I "heard" God ask what would I do if I didn't have anything to worry about? Not that the situation will inevitably change for the better- there's no guarantee of that- but what if I chose to praise Him instead? It sounds kind of cheesy. But if there is no terror to foment, no worry to tie up me in knots... what would happen? If I sacrifice my worry for His goodness & creativity instead, what WOULD I have left to do? What COULD I do? Worry is fruitless... I know it. There's nothing left but to rejoice that He's in control. He's got this.

Easy to say, harder to live. I don't feel much like rejoicing...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Faith, Hope & Love

I walked into a Catholic bookstore & bought myself a rosary a few years ago. I remember the sales lady asking me which parish I attended. I was just about to begin RCIA & was still pretty terrified by all things Catholic, but she reassured me that I was on the right path. She gave me time to browse all manner of rosaries, and this is the one I chose. I didn't want anything flashy & I've always been drawn to the image from the Shroud of Turin (Only later did I find out I had picked a "manly" rosary!). No matter. I kept the beads in my pocket during the day & under my pillow at night. There was nothing magical about them, but somehow, they made me feel connected to something stronger than myself. About a month ago, it finally happened. On the 3 small beads between the crucifix & the centerpiece, one typically prays for an increase of faith, hope & love. But then I discovered something was missing.

Somehow, I had lost all three beads at once. They must have worn & cracked over time. Slowly, faith, hope & love had deteriorated & their loss rendered the entire rosary useless.  Everything hangs on these three virtues, just as the crucifix hangs from these three beads. From there, I'm connected to the Father & the greater communion of saints through the intercession of Jesus & Mary-  through faith, hope & love.  But take these away & there is a very real void... a disconnect... a brokenness.

I began to wonder- had faith, hope & love deteriorated within me & rendered my life ineffective? If I don't possess these things, or rather, if they don't possess me, honestly, what's the point... of anything? It was quite the wake up call. I can pray a million Our Fathers, a billion Hail Marys & a trillion Glory Be's, but without faith, hope & love, I have nothing.