Sunday, May 11, 2008

Only You, Lord...

I'm back from my trip/pilgrimage to Wisconsin. I returned to Omaha a week ago, Sat. May 3 around 6 p.m. It was a wonderful two weeks. I made many new friends, meeting very interesting people, good and generous souls who love the Church. I did go to the Hermitage of St Mary, as mentioned in earlier post. Sr. Mary is delightful, and so full of wisdom. It wasn't what I had expected, the hermitage, or what I experienced while there, through the afternoon and Friday night, May 2. She has two cabins, one where she lives with her sweet Siberian husky, Icon, and two cats. The other is a guest cabin. It was much more "plush" than I had anticiapted, but all quite serene and reverent. . . a holy place.

However, much to my surprise, I went through a "dark night" for a few hours not long after my arrival. God rather "stripped" me of every good feeling, every consolation, every "awareness" of His presence for some hours. From About 3:00 until the following moring, about 5:00 I went through a 'difficult' period or extremely dry prayer, and loss of "feeling"...a "lost feeling" was more how to describe it. An "emptying" as Sr. Mary later told me was what God had to do for me there. I had gone with this eager anticiaption of a "hermit cabin" rustic and no electricity, and not really knowing what to expect. I did find the surroundings lovely and very up to date, with t.v. (only for videos) and all other amenities, kitchen, running water, lights, beauty, 2 bedrooms, comfortable seating in the loft and 'living area.' A deck was great, but I was not able to go out on it, as it was pouring rain most of the time and cold and windy. Oh yes, April in Wisconsin.

I managed to utter prayers but feebly, with a few tears, though it felt more like ashes falling from my lips and blowing away in the cold wind. Dry, cold, lost. Not the adjectives I had thought would describe my visit there. BUT, I persevered, although tempted to leave, though not really wanting to do that. Sr. Mary went to the store and was gone about 3 hours. The place was "desolate" without lights at her cabin, the helper, Herbie gone, the other woman, Kim, gone. The dark cabin below, the benefactor's was dark. The back bedroom area was "cold" and not welcoming, and in fact almost an "evil force" it seemed lurked there. I didn't have a good feeling at all for the bedrooms, either one. I chose of course, the "little" one. With only a twin bed, for it seemed a bit more 'warm' but yet it was not. I finally carried a little table and small halogen lamp downstairs to place by my bed. You see, I like to read in bed, and there was not a nightstand or lamp by the bed, which bothered me very much. I told Sister later that evening, or Saturday morning that I'd done that, and she didn't mind in the least.

I also made a change in the flower arrangements. A small vase with 3 roses (significant to me) was standing atop a bookcase in the living/kitchen area, but much to small to be where it was. On the kitchen table was a huge vase with a large bouquet of flowers, and IMHO, too large for the diameter of the table. So I took liberties to change the places of these flowers. I took the roses down from the bookcase, and put the large bunch of flowers on the bookcase, and thus drawing the eye upward toward the high windows where one could see the clouds and glimpse toward heaven. The 3 roses were much more suited to be on the kitchen table, where they coule be seen, and not lost in the room as they'd been on the bookcase. All of this needed to be done for me to have some sort of 'comfort' or peace there that day/night. It was strange.

I've had dry spells in my faith, cold spots, and ups and downs, but this was something I'd never experienced before. I prayed to St Faustina during this time. I told her: "St Faustina, I know you had this 'feeling' much more than I am now. You suffered so much more with this desolation of spirit, this loss of consolation, this dark night of the soul, and even worse, you suffered it with TB and with sisters in your convent who ignored you. They walked right by your cell, without so much as a glance or to see if you needed anything. How much more terrible that must have been, than me, just going being here in this pretty, yet very cold and lonely place right now. I'm alone, though not alone. God hasn't left me, but he's emptying me for some reason. I don't understand."

I got through the night. I prayed, sipped a bit of homemade wine given me by a friend in Medford the night before, in a little bottle, enough for two glasses. Kris, my friend in Omaha and who produces and hosts Spirit Morning Show at KVSS called me about 4:00. You don't know how welcome her voice was to me! She talked me through and helped me, with encouraging words, telling me to stay, be alone with God, let him "do what he needs to do" and write. I felt helpless and didnt' think I could write at all, but I 'obeyed' her and did so. It flowed, and I ate a bit of cheese, some crackers and sipped my little bit of wine. It helped somewhat. Later Sr. Mary returned from her errands and I flagged her down to see if she could help me get the t.v. to work. She came in and helped eventhough we women were pretty techno UNsavvy. She found the manual power on button on the SIDE of the t.v. so I put in the EWTN video of Peggy Noonan with Raymond Arroyo. I'd not seen it in some time, and NEEDED to hear familiar voices. It is amazing how Peggy's voice soothed me, as I listened to her talk about her return to her Catholic Faith, learning to pray the rosary, and her love for JPII, as this was regarding her book, John Paull II the Great. I sipped some Peach tea and watched her, listening intently to her calming voice and gentle laughter. Peggy Noonan won't know how she helped this lonesome little soul, until I hopefully meet her in Heaven, but boy, did she help me! The interview over, I put in another video about St Louis De Monfort. After 45 mins, I grew sleepy and retired to my bedroom. With the table and lamp on I read a bit, listening to the wind whine through the windows and creaking walls, I finally fell asleep. I awoke at 4 or so, prayed a Divine Mercy and rosary, and then read morning praise, in my blue Benedictine Work of God book. It was powerful and within a few minutes, like a switch was turned on, the whole ambience changed! Once again a peace and "good feelings" came into my soul and flooded me with a newfound warmth and contentment. Part of what I read was on Page 95, Psalm 143 (142) "Let morning announce your love, for it is you I trust. Show me the right way, I offer you myself." That spoke volumes as did the rest of Morning Praise. Why it all changed in the blink of an eye, and what the desolation I'd gone through was for, I'm still not quite sure, but I trust it was what I needed.

I have not ever wanted to cling to gifts or consolations, and I've written somewhat piously about that. I've talked a good talk at times, but going through this was a completely different thing! I know at times in my life, I have clung to emotions, and "good warm feelings." But that is really a dangerous thing. We should be glad when they're there for us, but all in all, they're not GOD, only byproducts of doing or making a right choice. They may or may not be there for us. As a spoiled Baby Boomer child, I've never had to suffer much at all. I've had some suffering, being from a broken home, losing loved ones, etc. But all in all, I've been blessed beyone belief. I've had it "good" here in America. I've known ease of life, not much hardship. I do want to live for Christ and bring hope to others. That's what I hope to do in my own "little way." I pray to St Therese to help me live out my little way for souls. For I can't do much like some with degrees or influential positions. I can blog a bit, and welcome people at the Holy Family Shrine and help my friends at KVSS doing little jobs. I'm 'little' in this world and it's fine to be little. I am really nothing, little and nothing.

As Sister Mary told me, in the lovely chapel in the loft of her cabin where the Baby Jesus smiled at me when she picked him up and handed Him to me to hold. She said, "We're all God's icons." We are all God's "little nothings" and we must be nothing to be used by God. It's when we're "something" or think we're "something" that God is not free to use us, to give to us to give to others because there's no room for Him. When we're nothing, there's room for Him to be in us for others."

That is my desire now, to be nothing and little. When we're little, we don't have nearly as far to fall, when we do fall, and we will, as we're all weak. However, when we're "something" and proud, we've got a much farther way to fall and a bigger fall means more gets broken and the longer it takes to heal. Whereas if we're little babes, little tots in the Kingdom and we fall by our weakness, we run to Jesus, to Mary and get our booboos kissed and we're quickly on our way. We bounce right back up and keep going forward.

I need to cling to Jesus and cling ONLY to HIM. For all else will be taken, stripped and removed from our lives. Only what we do for, in and through Christ will remain. Nothing we do in and of ourselves will ever last, and the gifts are NOT the GIVER. HE WAS AND IS and IN HIM we live move and have our being. We won't feel his presence and I now know it, as I never knew it before. It's not that it was such a profound event, and I'm writing nothing 'new' to any of you. It was nothing compared to the long, dark night of the soul many of you have gone through and may be going through now. Certainly this was nothing like St John of the Cross, St. Faustina, St Therese, St Bernadette and countless other saints have gone through. Or, Mother Teresa, who for 40 years experienced complete and total loss of consolation and the "feeling" of nearness of God. She never wore that sense of desolation on her sleeve, however. Her face showed no fear or frustration, even if she felt it. No her precious, lined, wrinkled face projected or more like radiated the love and light of Christ to the afflicted on the streets of Calcutta. The poorest of the poor saw only her diligent love for them, nothing of self pity, nothing of fear, nothing of lonliness. Only her perseverence in the midst of her great "agony" you might say, of 'desolation.' God, give me strength to endure whatever may come in my life, to live FOR YOU, and not seek your gifts, or your good feelings ever more than seeking ONLY YOU, Lord, ONLY YOU.


Anonymous said...

Hi Susie -

Thank you for sharing your feelings with us! They so express God's love for you that he allowed you to get closer to Him. Yes, good feelings have nothing to do with growing spritually. Let's all learn to love the way Jesus does, for God, without concern about popularity and consolations.

Thanks again for sharing!

pilgrim pal,


Joyful Catholics said...

Hi Maryella! Thanks for stopping by and your comment. You are right, popularity and consolations are not to be our focus, but Only Christ.