So what do you say when you’ve been away a long time? I am opting for “Hello again! I’ve missed you!” Some have asked where I have been…same place I was before in the physical sense that is. Spiritually, somewhere new.
The weeks before Lent were filled with a sense that something had to change. Something in me. It would have to be a time of spiritual cleansing and discipline. A time to face the parts of me that had been hiding in the crevices between places of knowing something had to change and not having a clue what to change or where to start.
One thing was clear. God was the originator of the message…change NOW, for me. In the words of Ada Whiddington, from 1891, that came to me in an email prayer request recently,
Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ be seen, be known and heard;
Not I, but Christ in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ in every thought and word.
I was to look within using every possible action for the 40 days of Lent. I eliminated certain foods and eating patterns, bumped up my daily prayer to include the Rosary, Scripture, and meditation, left myself only minutes on Facebook to see pictures of grandchildren, gave up television and online Bingo and replaced them with spiritual reading. During times of temptation I turned to prayer, a few times when battling the urge to eat late at night I went to my knees begging to be released. I read a wonderful book on fasting by Elmer Townes, Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough. He brought me to a fresh new realization of what the power of fasting and discipline are for.
I was trying out something I had heard of before, but never really realized could be done. Kingdom Living. It became very real to me that we are living in the Kingdom of God right now! The same spirit I have within me now is the one I was planned with by God, born with by my mother, and the one that will be released from its physical home when I die. I must nourish this spiritual being that is eternal. Discipline was allowing me to see clearly and I began to love it. Really love it.
Then we got to the Triduum. I began to feel a letdown. A feeling very similar to what I experience when a vacation is over. Easter came. At the beginning of Lent, I planned on that day! The feast, the chocolate, the bunny cake! The day came and I ate because I was “allowed to”. For the next few weeks, my discipline waned. I was missing Lent! In my humanness I need a goal. In the past it would have been a number on the scale. I was in fact very happy that I lost 10 or 11 pounds, enough to give me a start on the next 30 or 40! But this time I yearned for a new spiritual goal, one that would be sought with others on the same path.
This was the key. Seeking a goal in community. A community of others seeking Christ and a change in their lives. I would need to learn to search out meaningful goals that were not self-serving, like looking good, albeit a healthy body is necessary for the rigors of discipleship! I turned to the project that God set before me in April of 2013, our parish’s ChristLife evangelization program. It’s next sessions were beginning on May 8th and would end on June 26th. My discipline program needed a “love” to go with it, a passion set outside myself for Christ.
When I saw the dates on the calendar and noted the tribulations of the weeks following Easter, I saw very clearly that I had lent my ear to the negativity and fear that Satan plants in me when I try to work for Christ. My spiritual cleansing had given clarity to my spiritual eyes! To the point that now I welcome trials knowing they are meant as challenges for my soul strength! When I see the problems’ origin, it’s remedy is simple. Turn around and pray, hard!
So it has been a long time, a little longer than Christ’s own desert time, but then again I am weak and need much more time than he for true and lasting change. I join with you again with renewed and uplifted Spirit, ready for the challenges awaiting and the joys of spreading the message of Christ so we can honor, love and exalt him…forever.
Prince of Peace, is an original artwork by Akiane Kramarik, www.Akiane.com