Tuesday, September 27, 2016

in the dark

How often do we grow battle-weary, trying to combat the world's darkness? How often do we feel like we are seeking after Christ in the dark?

I have struggled to write for months; it seems like an eternity. I've felt that I have nothing worthwhile to say - in a world incessantly jabbering about things of mostly little value - even though I'd try to speak of Goodness/Truth/Beauty - those things of God - it's still difficult to rise above the din. Sometimes, it's just difficult to fight that tiny, grating voice that challenges the worth of your thoughts - and sometimes, that voice doesn't seem tiny at all. 

So I've remained silent for awhile... Perhaps I still should... But here I am.

We had a large power outage here several Sundays ago.

I was on my way to Adoration when it hit, and when I arrived, the windowless chapel was completely dark, save for the sanctuary lamp - which, though beautiful, did nothing to illumine the chapel, or our Eucharistic Lord.

There I was, alone in the quiet darkness - alone with our Lord, but unable to see Him.
Slightly unnerved, I was tempted to leave.
Instead, I pulled out my phone, turned on the flashlight, and propped it up on a pew at just the right angle to illuminate the monstrance.

Being in pitch darkness with our Lord brought many analogies to mind. Of course, the general analogy to the spiritual life, when our Lord is so close to us, but seems so very far away - times which are difficult and deeply trying.

And also, the analogy to our lives in the world today. For those of us who try to follow Christ, who have faith, who try to be faithful - life often feels like adoring Jesus in the dark. The world is pitch black and seems to become darker with each passing day. (Presidential election, anyone?) 

Faith is a real struggle - that "realization of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen". The "hoped for" - my God, how difficult is hope in a world which has none, and for which there seems to be none? The "not seen" - holding fast to One whom we only "see" Eucharistically - and for whom we suffer ridicule?

Yes, adoring our Lord in the dark.

The lights came back on after a little while, and I sat and prayed for all of the people I love, who are struggling against the darkness - the general darkness of the world, the way it manifests in our lives. We try to combat the darkness, but so often, we grow battle-weary - we do not wholly lean on Him in the struggle, and lose our strength.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

+ serenity +

"God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, 
And wisdom to know the difference." 

I've never liked the Serenity Prayer. 
This probably sounds terrible, but it's always felt kind of contrived, even a little silly... Perhaps because - at least in my opinion - it's been overused on coffee mugs and tote bags, and bandied about as some kind of a "spiritual-but-not-religious" mantra. 

Note: AA's use of this prayer certainly does not fall into these categories, and I mean no offense to anyone who values it in that context - or in any other. Just trying to share my own context up to now. 

So no, I've never appreciated the Serenity Prayer. Until last night. 

I had to make a very difficult decision this week, to leave a ministry I've been involved with for several years.

Have you ever experienced a moment when something became utterly, completely, crystal clear - and you know you've just been given the answer to a question you weren't consciously asking, but needed to? While on vacation recently, I was struck by one of those moments, and I instantly knew what I had to do. I knew it would be hard, and I knew it would upset some people I deeply care about - but I also knew there was no other way. 

Despite incredibly poor timing, despite not wanting to upset anyone, after I made the decision to step down, I felt peace. Peace is a difficult thing to live without, friends. 

I was out for a run last night, mulling over all of this, getting lost in my head in the midst of the miles, when the Serenity Prayer came to mind. 

Something finally clicked, and I saw the prayer in a completely new way.

I'd stepped out in courage to change something that was changeable. I thanked God that courage, and for having provided me with the wisdom to know it had to be done.

Grateful for God's gifts of peace, courage, wisdom, serenity - grateful that He is God and I am not, and that He provides in everything, even in ways and at times when we expect it least.