Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pain Hurts

keep begging

St. Paul said, "If you love those who love you what good is there in that?" 
Thomas Merton said, " If you always do what you like to do there is no merit in that."

So if life is simple and smooth and Jesus and I talk together every day I'm happy.  I feel peaceful.  It is nice to be on a honeymoon but that's not real life.  We're supposed to look at problems as opportunities.  God is always with us so we're never alone in our pain.  Thomas Merton says our surface self may be troubled but the Holy Spirit brings peace deep into the soul. 

That may be true but pain hurts.  It doesn't matter if its temporary or circumstantial or even if we're only feeling it because someone we love is the one in pain.  Pain hurts.  It upsets my physical being and makes me lose my focus.  Sometimes it's powerful enough to knock me down.  I feel empty.  I'm not talking about an interruption or a relatively minor problem.  Those are like being jostled.   Pain is being knocked completely off course.  Suffering is a better word because it seems to describe the slowness of an on-going process.  And it hurts.  

The truest saying of all is that time heals.  It may take three days, three weeks or three years.  It certainly takes three Persons in One.  Only after our pain begins to subside do the clouds move out of our vision.  When that happens we can see more clearly again and we notice who, what and where we went to seek comfort in our pain.  But it takes some time and my job is to be patient and calm (isn't that what peace is?) while I wait for the suffering to ease and the healing to begin. 

The process can't be rushed - it would only have to begin again.  I've tried that.  Suffering also will not be ignored.  It returns at every quiet moment and with certain memory triggers.  so if you can't rush it or ignore it what else can you do?  You could always cover it over with "comfort" food, drugs or alcohol, shopping, working, or going on a vacation.  But when that cover is finally removed the suffering is still there. 

I have to learn to sit with my pain.  To let it just be.  To look at it carefully and understand it.  Take it apart and look at all the pieces...gently.    Yuck.  But for me there is no way around it  That's why I'm writing this instead of stoically ignoring the pain or shopping or going to work earlier and ignoring my prayer time.  I'm admitting my pain and letting it out.  It's a new approach for me.  I even asked Jesus for help.  I began to do that about two years ago- finally.   It doesn't go away any faster but it feels more honest. 

Jesus, I'm not your perfect child.  Can't seem to do much on my own but that's OK.  I could do a lot worse than being dependent on You.  What am I trying to hide?  You know me thru and thru.  When you were on earth you sometimes spoke to Your Father all night long.  That wasn't all about getting instructions for the next day.  I'll bet you talked about us a lot to your Abba and I'll bet you needed - because You were fully human- to let go of some of your pain and frustration.  I'd love to have overheard some of those prayers!  Altho I can't listen in, I can certainly mimic your behavior.  Help me please and accept my suffering as a gift to You for the accomplishment of Your holy will. 
Thank you. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

And God smiled.

(R. Hook)

And God smiled.

There I sat pouring out my heart, anxious about some event to happen in the course of that day…. I missed it because I was so preoccupied with getting rid of the burden.

And God smiled.

Wondering whether my life had turned out the way you expected it to Lord. Did I give as much as I could? Did I represent you well to others? Was I a good example…so many questions.

And God smiled.

I read the Lives of the Saints. For months and months and months I tried to mimic their behaviors. Failing miserably almost every single day. Reproaching myself for not being able to do for one hour what they did for a lifetime.

And God smiled.

I tried to energize my prayer by listening to hymns and songs. I tried to draw. It looked like a 4 year old’s work! A stick figure of myself kneeling at the foot of your Cross with hands outstretched to receive any grace you might share with me.

And God smiled.

I never let a second of time go by without working my hardest to make that second a gift worthy to give to the Lord. People called me crazy and intense saying I had no common sense. But my exhaustion and my emptiness at the end of the day became my encouragement to keep going.

And God smiled.

I went on retreats. I gave retreats. I had a spiritual director. I became a spiritual director. I read every religious book I could get my hands on. I started a blog on spirituality.

And God smiled.

Every day God smiled at me. He smiled whether I was intense or exhausted. He smiled when I was singing off key and drawing stick figures. God smiled no matter what I did. It is the smile of parents staring at their newborn child. It was the warm smile of a mom holding a card hand made by her 5 year old. It’s the proud smile of a dad who watches his son on the town Little League team.

It’s the same smile God the Father had when Jesus was born in the manger and when John baptized him in the Jordan as the Father peaked thru the clouds to announce Him.

That smile doesn’t stop me from doing all those crazy things, rather it encourages me. Jesus loves me! It makes me wild with enthusiasm. I want to give him gifts, make him things. I want to do “something beautiful for God.” I want to face him at the end of my life with empty hands and be able to say ‘I used up everything you gave me’. So I’ll keep being excited and making every second of the day a gift. You can call me intense or any other descriptive work you like but this is between Jesus and me.

And I believe he’s smiling.