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Friday, June 24, 2011

Desire

This desire
Red hot and burning
In my soul;
Unquenchable thirst
That is my love
For you.
Wanting a touch,
A voice,
A breeze
To dry this face
Turned
Plaintively toward
Your own.
Hungering for your
Word
Satisfied a moment
As you speak
From the ages.
Celebration cannot come
Soon enough,
To look upon your body,
Your blood,
And know that only in you
Can I be made whole.
My Lord, my God,
My light, my life, my love,
My one and my all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

At What Age Do You Think You Will Die?

Throughout most of my life I have connected with people older than I am.  In college, there were only two people with whom I had much in common:  one of them I married :-), the other was a non-traditional student in her mid to late 40s.  Both of them I met in Father Lambert's Chemistry lab.  Especially in college, people my own age seemed, well, so young.  As I've grown in age, I have found a few people closer to my age with whom I connect, but in general, I still tend to gravitate toward an "older crowd."

Someone I respect very much said it is wonderful to find someone further along the "path" than you are, and how you often know it instinctively and want to spend time with them.  Maybe that is part of it for me.  This same person also said two of the best ways to achieve personal growth are to be abandoned as a child or suffer a traumatic event...hmmm.  Growth can be painful, but if you can work through the pain, THROUGH the pain, then you come out the other side a changed person.  If you've experienced this before, you know what he's talking about.

So the prayer group to which I belong is mostly people a few years older than I.  I was a little surprised when one evening someone in the group said she had recently and suddenly realized that she might not be alive much longer!  Maybe only ten more years or so.  Her husband remarked that when he worked for a major corporation, he had someone come out to give talks, and one year the guy asked everyone at what age they thought they would die.  I think most of us don't want to think about our death, and so avoid the discussions and thoughts leading to that topic, but he had been given the opportunity to consider this well before "the time".  I think we would all do well to consider this, for we know neither the time nor the place of our death.  Some months before I wrote the poem in my previous post, I was "receiving" messages which I was certain were pointing to my death - I heard calls to "come home", and in my brain at the time (during a time of desolation), that could only have meant one thing: Heaven.  One day, in the midst of this certainty that my death would be soon, I was walking down my driveway and suddenly a feeling of peace and comfort washed over me.  I said "I'm ready, Lord.  Take me when it is time" (consolation, right when I didn't expect it or even know what it was;-).  I didn't want to die, but at that moment, I felt ready and would accept it when it came. 

So when that comment was made about the timing of death, it gave me pause.  As a young child, it was almost painful to try to look and think ahead to a time when I was older, even just a few years older.  It was almost like a thick fog lay between me and the future.  Maybe this is part of what Jesus meant when he said we should not worry about tomorrow, all that anxiety will not add a day to our lives.  Certainly we should work and plan and prepare, but worrying about a future which hasn't happened yet isn't going to increase our lifespan.  The birds gather their food, build their nests, but they do it because it is what they are supposed to do, not out of worry or anxiety.  So, too, we should continue to do what we are "supposed" to do, but leave the future to God, the unknown to God.  Trust, placing your trust in God -- when you can do it, it is truly an amazingly peaceful feeling.

So, at what age do I see death visiting upon me?  That was a hard question for me, and for a while I couldn't come up with an age.  When I finally was able to, I was surprised.  Today I am 41, feeling young and healthy...but the age that kept coming up was 38 (the end of my old life...beginning of a new one?).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Desolation/Consolation

I was reading one of my favorite blogs (http://jimmcdermott.blogspot.com/) today, and the topic was "Waiting for Consolation".  The comments some people made to the piece prompted me to write on this topic. 

St Ignatius of Loyola defined Consolation as a time when "some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord....Likewise when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord....<and> every increase of hope faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one's soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord."  Desolation is seen as what is contrary to consolation, to wit:  "darkness of soul, disturbance of it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations...without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord."  (taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola).

Haven't we all felt these?  Do we have a tendency toward one or the other?  Do we recognize when we are in feeling these?  What are our reactions, where do our thoughts lie, how do we change and feel when we are in desolation?  In consolation?   What riches can be found in both? 

Just this morning, I was taking  a shower thinking of all of this, and when I had finished and dried off, a tremendous feeling of love and joy pervaded my entire being.  I could not help but smile and look up and say a prayer of praise to my Creator and Lord.  Do we recognize these moments and fully embrace them, allowing them to inform our day and our life?  I know, for me, it seems easier to "wallow" in moments of desolation.  They encourage stasis, laziness and inward-ness.  On the other hand, moments of consolation encourage me to go outside of myself, to bring this Light to the world, to bask in the joy and love that is our Lord.  That takes effort and energy and a constant reminder to myself to stay in the light.  And if I let them, these joyful moments do indeed provide me with the energy to live fully and extend beyond my boundaries -- fully explore the edges of my existence. 

Both consolation and desolation are part of our human existence.  Didn't we hear from Jesus "Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy." ?(John 16: 20)  I think this is one way to look at these two aspects of our life, our spiritual life.  There will be pain, times of darkness, times of feeling lost and alone -- but if you can sit with the pain without reacting to it, without judging it, it will in time reveal a deep and lasting joy.  Acknowledging and letting the experience work through you strengthens you for all the other times of desolation which are surely to come, and give you an even greater sense of joy during moments of consolation.  We draw strength from our trials, courage from our weakness, love and joy from our times of confusion and abandonment.

I wrote this poem a while back, which came at a time when I was finally rising out of a period of desolation, a very dark and lonely time.  It reminds me that the Lord is always present, is always with me, even when I may not be able to feel His presence:

Even in Darkness

I searched
and He found me.
I turned my back
and He returned love.
I walked in the dark
not knowing He cleared my path.
I stood in the rain
while He held me and dried my tears.
I was alone and silent
and He whispered to me.
And when I was lost
He led me back home.

He called my name
and I cried when I heard His voice.
He breathed His Spirit upon me
and this wind warmed my soul.
He reached out His hands
and I fell into His arms.
He welcomed me back to Him
and I entered His door in joy.
He placed his hand upon my head
and I smiled at His touch.
He has never left me alone
and even in darkness I can now see His light.