"We cannot understand this dynamic of encounter which brings forth wonder and adherence if it has not been triggered–forgive me the use of this word–by mercy. Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord"I shared this quote with a Good Father dear to my heart upon this journey to which he, in no big surprise lobbed the thought back to me with, "Ok. Sounds good. Now what does it mean for you?" Hmmmm... what does it mean for me? I decided to take the question along to Him in the quiet, peaceful chapel of adoration where He was waiting for me.
Usually on my way to adoration, my mind is flooded with all manner of things, my current struggles, my worries, anxieties, questions, and hopefully some thanksgiving on my part. My last visit to adoration was a tough one, after which I seemed to cry for hours and I remember clearly sitting on my bed in a puddle of tears and tissues and sputtering out to my husband how I just wanted this to be over, I just want to be rid of it, I just want to be okay, when will I be okay, what do I do with this now?
Tonight I received an answer to that question. After settling down in His presence and struggling to just clear my mind a bit, I prayed, "Come Holy Spirit..." Mere moments later, I heard His reply. "Bring it here..." I know that sounds crazy and maybe it's not His voice, but I like to believe it is and... I've heard it before. But this time He said, "Bring it here... and leave it here."
Well that makes all the sense in the world doesn't it? Haven't I done that already? Wait - yes, I have and it works. My problem, I believe, has been the belief that I shouldn't ever have to come back.
For a long time now, probably since after my first Rachel's Vineyard retreat I've struggled with this double life of mine. This life of post-abortiveness and then the rest of me - never the two shall meet. But they do meet, they are so ingrained with each other never to be separated again, not that they ever were save for my pushing that part of me deep down in the recesses of my heart, mind, and soul. But now, it's here. I will lead this double life until I'm ready to go public with my story in whatever way, if ever. At present, that decision would affect too many people, so it just can't be done. Even so, my abortion is part of me. Grace is part of me. The pain is part of me. The memories are part of me. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to live with it and not allow it to consume my life. I've succeeded in small ways to some extent for I'm still here, but I've failed much bigger. I think I've talked myself into thinking that until I'm okay with it all, then I don't deserve anything else... until I've solved it all, until I've fixed it all. I don't know how to do this. I know how to do miserable and sad and torn up and shut down. I don't know how to do peacefulness, acceptance, love of self, gratitude for pain and suffering. I want to put down my cross. I don't know how to drag it along and be happy about it.
What if I don't have to be one or the other? What if I can be quintessentially both/and and be okay at the same time? Let's face it, none of us are ever going to be truly okay until we are reunited with Him in paradise no matter how much we may look all put together down here. What if, just if all this time, He has been making me just comfortable enough with the caress of His mercy to make it okay for me to come here in His presence and bring all the bad with me, allow a visit with the pain and hurt just as anyone who grieves for a lost loved one is allowed? What if He has been showing me all along that this chapel, in His presence, or any chapel or any Church, is the place to bring it? Maybe I don't have to carry it all around with me all the time because I feel I deserve that yoke around my neck. When I feel the burden getting too heavy or interfering with the blessed life He gave me in spite of myself, I could return to Him again and put it down! Maybe sometimes I'll need help letting it go, but here I'm sure to get the help I need if I ask for it. Surely, the one who suffered and died for me can handle my box of burdens no matter how many times I lug it in.
Until I am ultimately "okay" - wouldn't or couldn't this be the next best thing? I don't have to be miserable all the time and heavy with guilt and shame to make myself worthy enough for Him. I can't conjure up enough miserableness to make myself worthy - it's impossible. So maybe I could stop trying. It's not working so far I know that much. My life has been waiting for me. My husband and children have been waiting for me. Could I come here to Him in my little familiar chapel, or Mass, or any chapel or any Mass where he is, and have my soaked through dressing removed and His healing balm reapplied? I could then get my brand new dressing and return to the life He gave me strengthened and unburdened and feel that living my life is an okay thing to do, the right thing to do. I could return to love my husband and family and go on with whatever things I'm supposed to be doing with joy and peace. And when the clouds begin to gather, and I know they will, perhaps it won't be so stormy knowing there is a port to return to where solace and grace and healing is found? Instead of running away when things get rocky as I usually do, like I did last week avoiding adoration altogether... instead of running from Him, I need to run straight to Him. Run home where he will be waiting as he always does as he always has at every moment of my life.
As I sat a while and thought about what this whole plan may do for my life and would it be enough to sustain me through the dark times, I began to wonder how I got to this point and why now? I began to think that He has been spending a lot of time making me comfortable with Him as He has lavished His mercy upon me. On my journey I have discovered things about my faith and sought out all I can. A few years ago I didn't even know what adoration was! Now it's become a much needed part of my life. I'm sure He's been at it for longer than I began to notice, but when we first moved into this house and joined our current parish, shortly after our Pastor installed a memorial to the unborn right in front of our church. Oh how I mentally cursed him out for that. I remember my then 4 year old asking when leaving Mass, "what is that for Mommy?" Oh his ears had to be ringing good that day. But, that memorial has become a touchstone for me. Soon after that the Good Father who was crucial to the start of this journey arrived and He made sure I felt comfortable enough to seek him out for help. My children attend the parish school where I am around a lot and therefore surrounded by Him constantly. I've sought out my own Catholic education and formation and have tried to fill in the cracks of my catechesis. I've volunteered and been involved and my parish has become my second home and ultimately the Church has become my home wherever I may be.
He has placed people in my life along this journey who have proven trustworthy and loving and have brought His love and compassion to me in a very real way. I have more than a few Good Priests who know me by name and who I've shared at least a bit of my story with. He knew that a Good Priest would be the only man that I would be able to trust enough given my past - a Good Priest who would make me feel safe and cared for - for all the right reasons and want nothing from me. Please God that no matter where I go, these Good Fathers are to be found. I've been anxious a bit around those who know my story because I'm always thinking that they are frustrated with me because I'm not okay yet - but I don't think that's true now. He knows me through and through and knows that there are times when I need to talk about this again, that I need to cry, I need to ask for prayers, so He has placed people in my life who I can ask those things of. And He has given me a place to go, a million times if necessary, to visit with my Father and Mother, and then return to my life and live it.
Before I left adoration tonight, I pulled out a favorite prayer of mine that a Good Sister shared with me early on in my journey. These words were never more true for me.
"And I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come – always, without fail. Silent and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, with My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension – a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father ("As much as the Father has loved me, I have loved you…" (Jn. 15:10) I come - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and My peace I give to still your soul." Imprimatur, Mons. G. Sergio De la Cerda Z., Vicar General, Tijuana, B. C. México.Okay Lord. I hope you meant what you said. Until next time...