Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lenten Sacrifice and Running out of Gas (Literally)

So today is the beginning of Lent and it is a great time to examine ones life in preparation for Easter. There are a number of things that I am giving up and taking up this year, and most of them are going to be very hard for me, but I have looked at the face of my savior and he has strengthened me to these ends. It really is great to simplify ones life; to clean out the spiritual, mental and physical clutter that I have accumulated over the last year. This time will allow me to explore the deserted places in my soul and purify them and consecrate them to Jesus through Mary. I feel a great renewal approaching me and know that it wont be easy but I love the challenge and look forward to the sacrifice that it entails. This entry will not be as eloquent or deep as many of my past posts simply because I am tired and want to begin this Lent in haste. So to that I pray that this Lent is both fruitful and challenging to me and all of you because sacrifice is easy when there (H)(E)IS LOVE!

The second part of this post will deal with a reality in my life from Monday evening. It does, as I reflect back, also have many spiritual realities that coexisting with it. I had a great Presidents Day of fun, service and annoyance, but in a hilarious way. I helped my buddy Colin clean his room for the impending sale of his house. He and I listened to some good music and just worked. We went out and had a smoke and watched the waves crash onto the beach and there was a sense of sorrow for him knowing his home would soon not be his. I feel this in many of my lackadaisical spiritual dwellings as well and there is a great lament for me in the loss of some of these comfortable places in my soul. Afterwards we went up to pick up his car (it needed some repair work done) and headed up to Bellingham to catch up with some old friends and reminisce of the days gone by. This too has very spiritual realities for me of repairing things in my life and letting go of things in my past. It was a great time and he dropped me off at my car at 3:30 a.m. so I could head back. I was cruising home and looked at my gas gauge and saw that I was really low. I prayed a Hail Mary to get me to a gas station and boy was I tested in that prayer.

I was driving for a little while when just as I was crossing a bridge my car died…out of gas. It didn’t show any signs of dieing, but simply quite on me. I coasted to the off ramp, which had a slight upgrade to it, and made it ¾ of the way up until I lost all momentum. I feel too in my spiritual life that I coast by sometimes and sacrifice only ¾ of the way when Christ calls me to total surrender and humility (hard when ones root sin is Pride). I got out of my car and pushed it up about 10 feet and was completely exhausted due to the weight of my car and incline of the ramp. This too reflects my spiritual reality that I can only do so much on my own strength and need Jesus to work through me to accomplish his will. I sat there with gas a stones throw away and pondered how I would get there. I remembered that my car would actually pull itself in gear with the starter (my ghetto car is awesome) and so I cranked on that sucker until the battery was almost dead…another 10 feet, only a little more to go. Sometimes I know that Christ calls us to the unconventional, the overlooked and very often the counter cultural to follow him. I totally felt his spirit pulling my car up that ramp and strengthening the hope inside me to make it.

I was almost there, only another 10 feet and I would be coasting down to the gas station. Mind you there was no one around at this hour in the remote area of the freeway I was at. I had to do it all alone. I recognized in this struggle of the last 10 feet that sometimes Christ gives us everything, but in the end he just wants us to push our way through things in our life that seem over burdensome and very demanding to accomplish. I never doubted that he was there and all of the Saints and Angels were pushing with me, but I could definitely feel the forces of evil pushing against my car (this seems like a crazy stretch, but I truly believe God is at work even in the most mundane and seemingly ridiculous tasks in life). I made it to the crest and began my hard earned coast down to the gas station. It makes me recall that fact that Jesus gives us only as much as we can handle and always offers us his aid and love. After the good fight, he lets us coast for a while to rejuvenate ourselves and prepare for the next challenge ahead…but only for a little while (this is prophetic so pay attention to this last line). I remember being not only ecstatic that I made it to the crest of the hill, but that I could now coast down the hill and get gas. I was never really worried about not making it (I wish this also had a spiritual reality in my life oh so many times) because I knew I could call on others to help me in my time of need.

So I filled my car up with gas and sat in my car and turned the motor over to no avail. No gas, no start. C’mon, I got you all this way and now that I gave you what you needed you are going to still mock me?! Wait, hello Christ on the cross on my Rosary hanging down from my review mirror. You gave us everything and we still mocked you…c’mon down from that cross if you are the Messiah! He didn’t come down, he stayed and endured and prayed and so did I. My motor chocked and coughed as the fuel began to enter the combustion chamber. Christ chocked and coughed on his own precious blood as we entered the innermost chamber of his Sacred Heart that was combusting and burning with love for us in the filial cry on the cross of “Father into your hand I commend my spirit!” What else could I offer but the same cry in my great time of need? The battery almost dead, an empty gas station, my car dieing and my hopes fading just as the dome light in my car. Jesus Mary and Joseph, I need you! Chug chug chug, brooooooom! YES! IT STARTED! Resurrection of my car from the dead! I know, I am a little melodramatic, but seriously, I was so thankful that IT LIVES! (young Frankenstein). I drove away from that solitary place with a heart full of thanks, a lesson learned and sore calf muscles. Furthermore, I also gained a great spiritual meditation that is so very sensual and real for me and for many others who have had a similar experience of embarrassment and redemption. May the everlasting and merciful Jesus be with all of you this Lent and may you enjoy the good fruit to come on the road home in the Joy of the Resurrection!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lagrimas de Christo Enjuagenme

The title of this blog is Espanol for “Tears of Christ wash me” and I totally feel this way many times throughout the day. In past times I found it very hard to think of things to pray for even though they were and always will be around me. Throughout this month many things have happened to me, to others I love and know and now I find that there is so much to pray for. 1Thessalonians 5 has been speaking to me like a voice crying out in the desert for some time now and I have felt such a great need for prayer. The particular passage of which I speak is when St. Paul exhorts people to “Pray without ceasing”. I feel the great need to heed these words in my life. Our culture, everyone I know, and all those I don’t know are so hungry for the help that God is calling me to in prayer. I feel as though I am suspended over a void with Christ the only one that is holding me and everyone else up. What strength, what docility, what hunger he has for our souls to be with him. His desire is to raise us up, but we resist so much. I never really understood why consecrated people choose to go into a lifestyle where all they do is pray, meditate and intercede for those that they don’t know. I now understand to a great degree that call. The austerity of solitude, the openness to trust, the tears and hopes wash down my sullen cheeks as I arrive in the quiet dark church. Candles flicker, silent holiness waits, souls cry out in deafening silence as my fingers traverse the beads. All is not quiet on the western front, the battle rages, the knees weaken, the will flicker as do the candles but continue I must. They need me, they need my contemplation, my affection, my strength, my life. It is however not so much me that they need, but rather who I dimly point to as if a mirror. Oh Jesu, my God, my Life, my all graciously hear my petition and plea, the fervency of my prayers arises to you as fragrance from a crushed garlic clove, bitter and yet sweet and inviting. Keep me and those I pray for in your care, in the Holy of Holies, your Sacre Coeur that I to may someday be able to enjoy with all those that I pray for the splendor of your truth, your inner most intimate life and the communion I so desire.

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than the suns and the stars. He who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions. "In the morning - solitude;" said Pythagoras; that Nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company, and that her favorite may take acquaintance with those divine strengths which disclose themselves to serious and abstracted thought. 'Tis very certain that Plato, Plotinus, Archimedes, Hermes, Newton, Milton, Wordsworth, did not live in a crowd, but descended into it from time to time as benefactors: and the wise instructor will press this point of securing to the young soul in the disposition of time and the arrangements of living, periods and habits of solitude." -- from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Conduct of Life"

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breath his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind;
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Alexander Pope

Currently listening to Mozart: Requiem in D Minor, K. 626: 3. Sequentia: Lacrimosa