Day 105- The Blooming Mile

“Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.” John 20:11

When the other disciples returned home, Mary did not. Attached to her Lord and overcome by grief, Mary stayed weeping by the tomb. Unable to remember the scriptures or unaware of them in that moment, she was consumed by her feelings of loss and loneliness. The one who had saved her, who had made her new was now gone. And she left with this new life in Him, was alive in her skin but dead in her soul, dependent on Him for every breath of her life. 

Mary’s weeping is the loneliness we feel in our sorrow and grief when we know the truth but are overcome by human emotion. We, like Mary, can choose in those moments to stay outside the tomb and wait for Him or take our sorrow into the world where it will quickly be tossed aside.

The greatest comfort of Christ is found beside the tomb

Why is it that in our greatest sadness, Christ comes to us more real and prevalent than ever before? Because He is the One that knows sadness and grief, because He had to die to be glorified, because we have a high priest who sympathizes with us in our greatest weakness. Jesus did not come to prove to the world that God was real, Jesus came to show the world what God looks like with skin on.

In our human flesh, the divinity of God is a mystery that we can hardly understand. We can understand Jesus because He looked, talked and ate just like us. He experienced human emotion, made friends and was part of a family. Jesus was relatable because He became poor, not in the monetary sense, but in the sense of spirit. He knew what it was like to be human.

So when we come to Him empty, He knows that emptiness- He experienced it cold and alone in that tomb. He has encountered all that life has to offer, which is nothing outside of Himself. And that’s why Mary was weeping, because she knew and understood that. She knew that without Him, she was nothing. What she failed to realize was that He was always with her, stronger than ever before, defeating death for her so she could live fully and eternally on earth as it is in heaven.

But the depths of Mary’s despair are a beautiful reminder of her deep love for Christ, her self -realization that He was everything to her, and her inability to move on with her life without Him. And this should be our story too. To sit by the tomb with Mary and miss Him, to come to the self-realization that we have filled our emptiness with things other than Him and to reconcile ourselves to Him. Time beside the tomb weeping is not wasted time, it is precious.

The seeds of our tears produce the flowers growing beside the tomb of Christ

Today, spend some time beside the tomb, engaging in this spiritual exercise.

Sit in Silence.  Allow any emotion that comes to you to flow. And allow yourself to be reconciled to your Lord- for the things you have not done, have not said. For the people you have not invited back in. Allow His forgiveness to flow, from His heart to yours. Hear Him say your name, because He knows it. Sit in the intimacy of the moment. Allow His love to flow through you. Do not leave the tomb until your tears and joy are taken care. Until you hear Him call your name. Until you see the flowers bloom.

Day 96- The Loneliest Mile

“But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.” Matthew 27:61

“One of the first signs of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. This life appears unbearable, another unattainable. One is no longer ashamed of wanting to die; one asks to be moved from the old cell, which one hates, to a new one, which one will only in time come to hate. In this there is also a residue of belief that during the move the master will chance to come along the corridor, look at the prisoner and say: “This man is not to be locked up again, He is to come with me.”
― Franz Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebook

(Listen to “On the Nature of Daylight” while you read today’s piece)

A tomb is a place where the dead go to die. Where the soul leaves the body. Where breath is not present. Where life is no more.

Inside the tomb, there is hollow and darkness. No love, just pain. The hope of light is lost and the dawn of daylight is far away. We ache at the thought of our loved one being lost to the night forever, and grieve at the passage of time, the regret of loss, and the emotions which consume us. There is no cure for broken heartedness. There is only the passage of time.

While some of us flee and fail to grieve, move on with our daily lives to forget, others stay beside the grave, beside the tomb. We feel every bit of our grief, allow time to stop.

We allow our emotions to consume us, guard the headstone, and lay at the feet of the one we love. We mourn at loss, make peace with the sky, but cannot see its face. We miss the smell of life, the joy of closeness and the flesh that He once wore.

We are alone.

Sitting next to the tomb is unfulfilling and hollow, but we cannot move- He still beckons us. While others have gone astray, we remain embracing, steadfast and tears. It does not matter that there is just us. We guard Him now as we guarded Him then. The love still in our hearts. The wounds still in our hands. The eternity we still carry. The blood that sustains us, running through our veins.

We stay because He is our Master. We stay because He is our friend. We stay because never before have our hearts been touched in such a way as this.

We stay because it is alright to grieve.

Who else will guard His tomb? They have all went away- every one of them. We remain. The weak things of this world. The vision of two lowly women in the world’s eyes guarding the King of the Universe.

And even though a stone is in our way, the compulsion for it to move is greater. It is greater than us, of our souls and of our being. It is our fiat.

I will not leave Him because I love Him. Because He trusts me. Because He knows that I will stay.

Let the night bring His death but the day His resurrection. May I see what I cannot see now. The morning of hope. The fruit of loss. And the remembrance of everything that I have gained.

No, tomorrow is not promised but He is. I AM. Not I was. He is present, alive, here- yes, even in death.

In His finality I am sorrowful, but hopeful of his triumphant return. The strings of the violin, my tears, His pain, and the wood that bore His body. That is all gone now. So I will sit and wait for my heart to return to me. The lover of my soul. The one that knows every breath of me.

My love, you are the eternity in my heart. The song in my tears. You are everything. And I will wait until you rise again in your triumphant procession. The Easter that you created. The rising you predicted. I will use my tears to water the soil surrounding your grave.

Lord, you are and always will be the reason I exist, the cry of my heart, the depth of my soul. Your song is joy. The cross is my joy. Rest now my love while I sit by and let you sleep while I keep watch- as you do for me every moment of my life. I look forward to your coming, your awakening and mine, when we will see each other again face to face. When I will touch your lips and your hands.

You transcend time. 

My risen Savior, the tomb is just the beginning of your emergence. Your song. The silent way you tell us that everything will be o.k. I know that you have not forsaken me.

So I will remain sitting here, facing the tomb.

 

 

Take Back the Land

The Conditions for Restoration and Blessing

Deuteronomy 30:1-13 The Message

Here’s what will happen. While you’re out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you. And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.

This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain – you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean – you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now – as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!

The Holy Spirit burst threw me today like a freight train, crushing everything in its path and not caring who or what was in its way. I have been tired for some time in this season of wandering… where God where are you? Is this it? Is my life meant to be lived in these bits and pieces? Some ups, some downs…moments of joy and some of sadness. Am I supposed to live in the in between or for the next moment? Meditation after meditation, article, blog post, bible study, mass, homily, Instagram priests- I took it all in, and it was GOOD! But I couldn’t hear a lot of it. In fact, I couldn’t hear most of it. Because I was to busy keeping my mind fixed on negativity, demeaning words and actions, cruelty and meanness and re-living those words in my head over and over again waiting for God to give me a different platform, a different purpose, a different meaning.

We say that we do not care about words that hurt and those that hurt us, and that is a LIE. And although we may say it, the heart feels it and often deters us from the very thing that God has already told us to do. For a long time now I have been living in that lie, veering on and off the course, in and out of that narrow lane. Those words, those words in my ears. That email that I received telling me to shut the f*** up, the internet is mine not yours, this space is mine not yours, the message is mine not yours. And so the devil crept in, kept my hands from writing and my heart from feeling. Holding back the gift that God gave me- my words. Not for me, but for someone. A you, a friend, your sister. The words that seemed to flow like a dripping faucet, a steady flow until someone said, “I’ll fix that faucet!” So I let them “fix” that faucet. But I was the one who decided not to turn it back on.

The one thing that God asked me to do is the one thing that I’ve been holding back. I am the cause of my own downfall. And while I’d like to blame the ones that stifled me, it is not their fault. Undeterred, I should have walked right into Jerusalem.

Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem. Luke 13:33

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Luke 13:35

Did you see that? Jesus willingly did that. Knowing everything, He walked into His own death. But along the way, he experienced everything that we did, rejection, pain, sorrow- you name it. He was undeterred. He kept walking. He did not hit the pause button or decide He would take another road. He kept going, His face set toward the ultimate goal- Jerusalem.

As we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, why do we fear, then tremble and stop? Why do we walk the other way or think that God has a different call on our lives just because people are mean and don’t like what we say?

Nelson Madela said this about obstacles and perseverance,

“When the water is boiling, it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

Could our mission and signs be any clearer? Is anything that God sends to us easy? And why do we run away rather than towards our heavenly missions? Why are we so deterred?

What a fool I am this day! If God demanded my life this day, could I say that I lived up to what He asked of me? Did I not hear the words of Mary- Do whatever He tells you to do!

I pray to God that my life is not demanded of me this day.

Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?

Luke 24:25-26 (italicized the word “and” for emphasis, it was in fact BOTH!)

Can we not suffer yet still choose to move forward, all at the same time? Why do we run away when we know we are called? Why can we not endure and enter at the same time? Oh the great mystery of the crucifix…

So I will keep walking, mud and all. Those people that believe that they own the market on opinion and the internet, I’m over it…

I’m taking back the land.

The Spiritual Bouquet of Christ

Easter has begun. And not just in the source life of the Church, but in the hearts of many believers. Easter is the promise of hope, the resurrection of our forgotten dreams, the time when our bodies are so badly beleagured by Lent, that the only place to go is up. Our hands are outstretched, we are on our knees, we have barely crossed the finish line. We are tired, hungry and ready to surrender.

This is exactly where God wants us to be

My ego is surrendered to my Maker. I have been humbled and afraid. I have cried and crawled and begged for water. I have sustained myself by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. I have hung on to Him when there was nothing else to sustain me, the imprint of His mother’s rosary beads in the palm of my hands. I came out of Lent covered in dirt, barely breathing. I came out exhausted and longing for change. I was beaten, battered and often times alone. And only my God could save my wretched soul.

I was exasperated when Easter did not produce the type of fruit I imagined. I felt desperate and disappointed and heard the words this-was-all-for- not repeat in my head. I was walking around in a daze.

Where are you God?

Until I met up with a friend. I prayed earlier that day for Jesus to show up, and He did. Her words changed me forever. It was an explosion of flowers. It was spring. She reminded me that Easter was not a day, it was in fact a season.

What a game changer! I had been living liturgically for so long, but realized that I still fashioned a bit of secular living. Have you ever felt like that? Been reminded that God’s calendar is not the world’s calendar? That the Church, like the world teaches us to live in “seasons.” As the globe spins in winter, spring, summer and fall, the Church lives in the glory of Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, then back to Ordinary Time.

If we learned to live liturgically, our joy would blossom into the most beautiful bouquets.

We would align with the will of our Creator. Live in joy with Him, cry with Him, be reborn with Him and be still with Him.

Our spirits would soar!

Why do we fight against the current of our spiritual ocean? We are swimming upstream while Jesus is calling us to flow with the current. We are climbing when we should be descending. We are trying to knock down doors when we should be sitting in the waiting room. And isn’t it a great relief to know that we are not crazy, but rather we have an answer in Mother Church! That as our souls ebb and flow and yearn to be closer to Christ that Mother Church with her open arms takes us in, makes us clean and says

Yes my child! Live with Jesus! Die with Jesus! Rise again with Jesus!

Isn’t this such a glorious notion. I can run like the prodigal son into the arms of my loving Father!

So if you are feeling out of sorts, your Easter wasn’t what you thought it would be, you are feeling confused, perplexed and unsure, open the Church’s liturgical calendar and find hope in the SEASON. It is Easter and Jesus Christ has Risen! Rejoice with Him and anticipate his heavenly departure. Remember all those Lenten seeds you planted and find hope in it’s Easter fruit.

He has Risen Indeed!

This Easter, leave the thorn in place

But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

It is Day 38 of Lent and I am weak. I tell you this because it’s true. The Apostle Paul tells you the same in the very next words of verse 10, “I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”

I’ve read this verse a thousand times, it is a Christian staple. My brain gets in the way though. My thinking, my complication, my resistance to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. I think I know better, I think I’m smarter. I am not. I am a garbage can of thoughts. I have an agenda. I am a mess of a human. And this, this has led me to fall on my knees in front of the altar of my God. He expects me. He expects me to do this as homage to Him. He knew I would fail. He knew I would be here. Nothing is a surprise to the King of the universe.

In my great anxiety I was exasperated, when God? when will the pain end? The anxiety is too much and I am failing you Lord. Many have told me I have no faith if my anxiety has taken over. That I am lacking. This continued to make me feel less than, a betrayer of the one who saved me. Am I Judas Lord? I questioned myself. And this brought me into an even greater despair. Such is the plot of the enemy.

As I sat in front of the crucifix at mass this morning my anxiety was palpable. It was physiological. I was a mess of nerves and sweat. Things were not going according to plan. But when I fell to my knees, the devil couldn’t penetrate the grasp of the Holy Spirit, He spoke that scripture to me.

I had asked so many times, sometimes from minute to minute for God to take away my anxiety, for God to take away my physiological response when things get tough. But God has refused me. I never saw it as something to give up on- I always believed that someday it would be gone. But today I heard a freeing truth- it will never go away. It can’t be prayed away, anointed or exorcised. It can’t be charasmatically eliminated. It is the very thing that brings me to my knees. It is the very thing that keeps me glued to Christ.

I bowed my head… yes Lord! Yes Lord this is my cross!!! It is not a lack of faith but a gift. Yes Lord it is all grace. And in that moment I accepted all of it- the heart racing, the sweat, the tears, the inability to eat, the rocking back and forth, the pain, the panic. It was all beautiful now. It was all a gift of God.

How could it have taken me this long??? Six years and thirty eight days into Lent I had a massive explosion. God had broken me. And I repeated Stephen Colbert’s quote in my mind,

It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened. 

Our weaknesses are exquisite, they are not demeaning, or false or something to be prayed out. Rather, they are something to be taken in, accepted. They are the cross of Christ, the crown of thorns, the torn body. They are blood on my hands, my human betrayal and my failure to stay just one hour. And they are…everything.

Easter is coming but my anxiety will remain. I will not pull out the thorn in my side. It is a piece of the crown of thorns that keeps me in His arms.

God is in my coffee

God was in the staircase today

In my steps

My up and down movement

The paper cup and sugar

God was in my coffee

He was in the room number

And my patterned quilt sitting

neatly on my bed

He was in the train that rolled by at

6 am

and

7

And at the bar sitting next to me

He was in the wandering beggar that asked for

twelve dollars

to get home

My hot shower

and

time

alone

He was in the waiter

And the host

And the horribly cooked steak

That I ate anyway

He was my daughter crying last night

That I was not there to hold her

These are the things that make Him

Him

tiny prayers

moments

the dying to self to see

outward

It is intimate connection that brings consecration

Sacredness

the entrance into His Kingdom

God

let me in