Are we nearly there yet?

Lent has been a bit of a non starter this year. And so just because it is Spy Wednesday it does not mean I am ready to celebrate the Triduum.

During Lent last year the scales fell from my eyes. Giving something up was not what God demanded of me but something I could do for God. After that epiphany Lent was easier than it had been in the past.

Armed with this new found knowledge I looked forward to Lent this year. I had also decided to use Janet Morleys lovely book  The Heart’s Time during my morning prayer.

I refreshed my prayer space, new candle, pen (working), missal, book, journal and looked forward to the coming days. Praying the daily Gospel, pondering the daily poem with its reflection from the book and scribbling my insights in my journal lasted for about two and a half weeks.

They say that if you want to make God laugh tell God your plans…

I became unwell. Thinking it was just a head cold I ploughed on doing the things that had to be done and letting others go to try to carve out a little rest time. Early morning prayer became one of the things to go as I went back to bed after the morning rush rather than spend that time with the Lord. Feeling guilty I did sometimes have a look at the poem and the reflection mainly to be able to talk to one of my prayer companions who happened to be using the same book.

As the cold developed into sinusitis even antibiotics could not life the fog that filled my brain. I felt the Lord nudge and invite me through the fog of illness but I could not, was not letting Him through. He might require something of me that I was unable to give.

Instead I struggled on preparing work only to cancel the sessions at the last minute because I was too ill to do them. I read the beginning of a blog by one of favourite bloggers who said ‘I have succumbed to the fever and spent time in reflection’.

Really? WOW!

I tried not to succumb and when I did spent it giving myself a hard time for not being strong enough, being lazy, wondering if anyone would believe I was ill, really ill or if they would think I was making it up, swinging the led. How on earth could I let people down? I had to go to that meeting (I had missed the last one and used up my free pass!), I had to give that talk, it was the last in the series, I had been booked ages ago (they might not ask me back).

(But God, hey I knew He would be ok with it all, He understood. If I could give up anything it would be my time with Him.)

So when I was preparing more work, looking for a piece of music my media player played through the song I had chosen and onto another.

And before I realised I was crying. Unable to type I gave in, succumbed to the music and what it was that God had been trying to say to me.

Still it was to be a few days later before I really got it. Using the song as the prayer for the closing Liturgy of a 24 hour meeting, I asked the participants ‘What will it cost, to spend time resting with the Lord?. And again the tears, along with the scales of awareness fell from my eyes.

Rest

This Lent, through my illness, the Lord had been inviting me to rest. I did not need to fear that He would ask me to give something I could not give.

The cost? Vulnerability.  And that is difficult.

I do believe that there is a link between illness and learning. Any time my children were ill I noticed that it preceded a breakthrough, reading, swimming, riding a bike, and I feel that it will be the same with this illness too.

I believe that there is much learning to come out of this Lent. If only that I need to learn how to be vulnerable.

A future post might read, ‘I succumbed and spending the time in reflection this is what I learnt…’

Ready or not we have arrived, and I pray, we will all journey safely with the Lord through the Triduum  and into the Joy of the Resurrection.

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Formed by Friendship

My friend in faith and spiritual sister is not well.

She first told us last Good Friday that the cancer had returned. We journeyed Passiontide in all it’s fullness last year. The Triduum was suddenly horribly real.

This week she called again.

She was worse.

For the past year we had refused to believe that she was not going to get better. We had besieged heaven with our prayers, our novenas, our Masses.

She Was Going To Be Well. It was going to be ok.

And we waited. We waited for the news that the chemo had worked.

While we waited we grabbed greedily at any opportunity to meet. We had afternoon tea in town, we went to the theatre, we had dinner, we phoned weekly. Then the news came, the chemo had worked, she was not out of the woods but things were on the up.

Over Christmas and in to the New year, things tailed off slightly and so did my conscious prayer for her because I began to forget. And I was justified in forgetting because when we spent time together, even last Saturday: She. Was. Well.

Really Well.

Three days later her reality shook me out of my comfort zone. I have to face up to the fact that my lovely, wonderful, talented, beautiful, faith-filled sister will not be alive for as long as I would like her to be. For as long as she would like to be.

And so this week I have been reflecting on the difference she has made to my life, the richness she has brought to it. 

There is no doubt she, through our friendship has formed me. I am not the person I was when we first met, all those years ago on holiday (www.catholicpeoplesweeks.org.uk).

Through our friendship she has constantly affirmed me,
as a mother,
as a friend,
as a liturgist
and as one who is beloved of God.
She loves me, in spite of my shortcomings.
She both prays with me and encourages me to spend time alone with God.
She enables me to see where to find God alive and at work in my life.
She laughs with me, oh how we laugh!
And this week, not for the first time, she cried with me.

Yes, she is still alive but I want to tell her how much she means to me before it is too late.

I want her to know how very blessed I am because of our friendship.
I want her to know that I love her, and that I will miss her.
I want her to know that if we never make another memory it doesn’t matter.
I can never forget her – I carry her with me in all that I am today.

May I ask for you to pray for her and her family…and those who also love her.

Fish messages for Jane

Perhaps this post should have been called the inadequacy of words, or maybe that’s for some other time.