Spring is one of my two favorite seasons, the other is autumn particularly in the northern parts of the country where the autumnal display is eloquent. Spring here in Central Texas is different from spring in the northeast, as well it should be. While there is the winter shrouding it’s not nearly as shrouded as the northeast. While there are subtleties of spring and the glorious explosion of autumn I miss about being in the northeast I am loving the open sky and less shroudedness of living in TX.
Just before the beginning of Lent I reached out to one of the women who’s in my faith sharing group and has regularly attended the book studies at the parish to have lunch. As we talked this book, Restore by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, came up in conversation and I offered to read it with her. I’m going to link the book related YouTube vids below
One of the hardest things about working through the book, and trying to journal has been not being able to write. I’m a writer, I’ve written a book, I have two blogs, write a newsletter now and again. I enjoy the beauty and depth of words, the nuances, the looking them up to make sure that the word I’m using conveys the thing I’m trying to say. Not being able to dig into writing is, for me, just as difficult as not being able to quilt. It’s nearly physically painful.
In one of the videos and in the book I learned that the prayer, fasting and almsgiving we do are intended for healing our relationships with God, ourselves and with our neighbor. This, to me after practicing my Catholic Faith for 30 years, is Mind Blowing. And whether we practice Lent with gusto or we half-ass it there is always some movement in each one of these relationships. Understanding Lent more deeply as one more avenue of connectedness to God’s Mercy began to get me right in the core, coeur of my being. And that is, in this moment where I’m willing, open to going, to the core, closer to the core is more accurate.
One of the things I’ve understood for a long time is that, for me, healing of some “big life wounds” would come through the Church, through Faith. There are times when we need therapy for sure and I would never encourage anyone Not to pursue, I know that God uses many avenues to speak with us and heal us, to bring us into right relationship or a deeper relationship with Him, ourselves and others. During a parish mission our first year in ministry at the end of Mass before the dismissal, anyone who desired received the Sacrament of Healing, being anointed with fragrant Holy (blessed) Oil. I knew in that moment something shifted, something was healed. What I didn’t know, couldn’t know is that healing, like Faith is a process that takes time. Because weirdly I’m not St. Paul getting up off the ground after his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus.
“That’s Fricken Absurd!” was the response when I shared with my Spiritual Director when I spoke this thing. “That’s fricken absurd, I’ve never heard anything like that and you need to let this go, and you need to forgive yourself.”
I’m going to back up for a moment and share with you while preparing for Spiritual Direction I was having a hard time writing things down to bring up, it’s happened before but the Holy Spirit guides. When I wrote this down to share I wasn’t certain I was going to bring this up. Remember the Holy Spirit? Yeah there will not be specifics, other than there are times when I take responsibility for things that aren’t mine to take responsibility. Over the years I’ve had friends tell me the same thing. Why I heard it so clearly yesterday that I needed to let go and forgive myself, ahh I get it now. It wasn’t simply let go, it was let go and forgive yourself for taking anything like that on. This is a moment where I get to repair the relationship with myself. And like so many other things this process began a while back.
I am frequently amazed by the beauty and grace of God’s Mercy, though I do not fully understand it, actually I know full well I do not understand it, I am in awe of it. I know that in His Mercy I will continue learning to put things down, to forgive myself, and understand what not to pick up going forward. I know there is a lot to learn, room to grow.
As I started writing this post a fun childhood memory popped up. My parents decided to grow a garden in our little front yard. They rented a rototiller to turn over the soil, remove the rocks, and add a significant amount of horse fertilizer from the farm of a family member. I’m sure at least one of my parents wasn’t amused with how much dirt and stuff went down the bathroom drain despite being hosed off before going for a bath. I remember begin covered from head to toe in dirt and muck. The rocks we were moving seemed so big at the time, now they probably wouldn’t because I’m bigger and stronger. When I started picking up responsibilities that weren’t mine to carry it was big and overwhelming but it was simply something I thought I was supposed to do. Putting these things down seems like such a huge weight removed from the core of my being. When Cultivate became my word of the year I didn’t get why, and herein is the beginning of cultivating. Preparing the soil, removing things that will impede growth, adding a bit of muck to add nutrients to the soil so that it has the best opportunity of growing good fruit.
While this isn’t the Lentiest Lent I’ve ever Lented, it is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced. Ranking right up there with the first Lent I practiced.
May your Lent find you growing closer to God, yourself, and others.