Sunday, October 9, 2016

It Is (Never) Finished

At this writing, I've been back from Poland for not quite two months. It feels like a much, much longer time. For the last month, my processing of things has been more like soaking than sorting through. I am aware of tremendous changes that have happened in my heart, and even around me in the circumstances of my life. None of these could I have anticipated, but all of them demonstrate to me God's faithfulness and the fact that relationship with Him is never static, but is always dynamic, and that dynamic is not something supplied on my end of the relationship.

I am remembering one day early in the pilgrimage. I attempted to engage my Carmelite commitment of 30 minutes of mental prayer on our bus as we traveled somewhere. On this particular day, my prayer was largely liquid. In other words, I cried a lot. If I could translate what was happening interiorly into words, it would be something along the lines of offering myself to the Lord to be emptied out, but not so much because of it being my desire to do so. Rather, it wasn't my initiative, but I was responding to the Lord's call and the reality in front of me. I sensed, though, the Lord near me, encouraging me that I should not shrink back from the call or be afraid of it, because He was excited about the infilling that He intended after the emptying stage cycled through.

You know how that is when someone you love is excited about something, when you aren't? Doesn't it help you to keep in step with them? It does for me.

There is that moment of great cost, though. Jesus shows us God's pattern in dealing with us here. On Mount Tabor, Jesus was faced in advance with discussion of His exodus, in a glory moment with Moses and Elijah. God doesn't give glory moments as candy; He gives them as signs and as strength. The moment of great cost for Jesus came in his passion, when humanly speaking, everything became dark. God led me through that bit, too. But even in that moment on the bus, He seemed to be suggesting that this dark moment was not going to be so awful. Walking by faith is the made more painful the more we resist purification. Our resistance aggravates the pain. The more deeply we say yes to purification, the shorter and more bearable the moment of great cost will be. But willingness does not do away with the cost. This is another cycle we go through again and again in following Jesus.

It is safe to say that this pilgrimage  has been a life-changing experience for me. But it is better to live a changed life than it is to try to explain it. My heart has stretched, is stretching. I had some broken notions of love which, like mechanisms held together with duct tape, spit, and desperation, I tried to function with. God has exposed these and replaced them with His reality, and now I have the surprise of learning how they work. Most importantly, I know that God is real, and reality is trustworthy.

I can't recommend the experience of pilgrimage highly enough. I can't recommend relationship with the living God highly enough! I can't recommend penance as a means of seeking this God highly enough. Give God your willingness to meet Him and to jettison whatever is revealed as not-God in your life. With this willingness offered, God will meet you and lead you. Every difficulty on the journey is by every means worth it.

With this, I will probably close writing new posts on this blog. I'll integrate further reflections on my long-standing blog Naru Hodo, and invite you over there.