Day 102- The Mile I thirst

I thirst…

I miss everything about the Eucharist.

Its free grace. The ease on my tongue. Your love wrapped in it.

The way You hold me when I do not deserve it. 

The entryway to heaven. The gift of peace. The song of redemption.

In all this, I long for you O Lord.

On my knees, I am empty. You are not there.

When I cry out to you, you are not there.

Your body is a song, and I cannot hear the lyrics.

My love seems empty and cold.

I long for you to hold me in your embrace.

My Father, where are you?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

 

Born of a Spiritual exercise taken from Father Dan’s 3 p.m Good Friday homily. Watch it here.

 

 

 

Day 100- The Mile I stopped to wash your feet

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

It is a concept that Mother Teresa touted but was little understood by the masses.  Person to person interaction. The act of one. 

Although the culture lifts up Mother Teresa as a demi-god, her heart is often misunderstood. Her lessons are deeper and more profound then simply serving the poor and the dying.

Her heart was for the dignity of the human person. The right to die with love. And the understanding that we are all poor and dying, each of us in our way.

As a young Jewish girl, Mother Teresa’s impact on my life was profound and I invested in her philosophy of servitude and deep love. In her acts of kindness and humility, I found the God of love, and unconsciously my soul opened up when it contemplated service to others.

As a sexual abuse survivor living in the 1990’s, there were no outlets of help. My cries became muted and I had to move on. My body was dead but my soul was not, in fact it was the only thing that was keeping me alive…

It is important to note that our deepest purpose comes from our deepest pain. In God’s economy, he uses it all, every last bit of it. In understanding Mother Teresa’s profound love in service, I found a way to express my pain in a tangible and healthy way, pouring myself out like a libation for others. The more I gave, the more I healed, and I soon found myself at the feet of the least and lost of our society.

How was I able to serve them? That’s easy.

I was one of them.

The difference for me from death to life was the understanding that self-loathing is different than humility. Hating one’s self is contradictory to the very essence of who God is, as I learned later on as a Christian. That we are made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father, and God cannot hate himself. 

Therefore, humility was an entirely new concept to me. That I did not have to hate myself to love God. No, quite the opposite was true! I had to love myself in order to love Him and serve Him. It was only after this great epiphany that I was able to heal.

I served whoever I could and made it my life. I started when I was sixteen and never stopped. The ability to begin the healing process without a single word spoken was powerful and set the stage for the plans that God had for my life. It seemed that there was no triumph or tribulation that I couldn’t endure- until I couldn’t.

You see service without the consciousness of God is simply that- service. It is self-reliant and many times full of pride- indulging ourselves in our “good works” to show the world. Service becomes a resume and an ego builder, and not an act of humility before the divine master, even for those of us that have committed our lives to public service.

And so through my transformation of being in Christ, my healing through recovery, and my service back to my sisters who were also victims of sexual abuse, I learned how to wash the feet of my Master.

We often think of this scene with Jesus, the washing of the feet, as us having to go out and wash the feet of the “poor” in the secular sense. If in fact you look at the sentence again, Jesus admonishes his followers to wash “one another’s feet.” In other words, each disciple should wash the feet of the other disciple. He is saying in fact to you, who do you consider your equal? Wash that person’s feet.

That is humility.

This will look different for everyone. As you examine this verse again and think of your colleagues or those you identify most with, the thought of serving those people may be more difficult for you than to go out and feed the homeless. This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. The kind of service that nobody sees. The kind that you wouldn’t tell anyone about.

We are supposed to serve those people that God has brought into our lives, even if some of those people are in our lives temporarily. It could be people you work with, family members, ministries you are involved with, or friends.

If it is easy, you are probably not serving the right group of people, try again. 

“For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32

Day 99- The Truthful Mile

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Matthew 26:15

Say it. Say it as if you said it. Because you did. You betrayed God.

When you weren’t kind. When you were unforgiving. When you decided to follow only three of the ten commandments  because that is what is convenient for you. You’ve deemed it ok. You’ve played God.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

What about supporting abortion.  You’ve decided that it was ok to take a life. You continue to support abortion.  You’ve deemed it ok. You’ve played God.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

Your husband or your wife do not make you happy anymore. You’ve decided to leave. You have found another partner even before you are divorced.  You’ve deemed it ok. You’ve played God.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

You have decided that you don’t want anymore children. You’ve chosen to close your womb. You are not open to the possibility that the next child you have may be the President or even the next Pope. You’ve deemed it ok. You’ve played God.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

Somebody has told you the truth. You don’t like it. You decide your truth goes down easier. Your mind and heart are closed to what God has to say. You’ve deemed it ok. You’ve played God.

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

What is the price of betrayal? Is it your happiness? Your wealth? Your unwillingness?

And at what expense does it come? The cost of a marriage? The cost of a family? The cost of your relationship with God?

In these last days, the words of Judas are for us to ponder, left for all eternity, imprinted in God’s Word. His question is our question, his thought our thought. We cannot take them out of context. Every word in the bible is there for our benefit.

If the words don’t convict you, than you are not receiving them. If you are open, they will dance in your soul and stir you to repentance. God is the giver of life and death. We are not our own masters. Whether you believe this or not is of no consequence in God’s kingdom. God will still be God. 

The truth is a beast if you make it to be. The ancient rules a binding if you do not understand their freedom. Obedience is a gift and not a curse. Adherence to rituals alone is not love, it is death.

As you find yourself open or closed to this meditation, ask yourself this question- why is this making me angry? or sad? or introspective? None of this I write is on my own, every word is from the word of God.

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord. The clothing did not fall from you in tatters, nor did your feet swell these forty years. So you must know in your heart that, even as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord, your God, disciplines you. Therefore, keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him.

Deuteronomy 8:3-6

 

 

Day 98- The Mile I read God’s Will

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” Yehuda Bauer, on Kristallnacht

There is always a moment, a space, a pause in time that we can put our finger on and pause to reflect on the moment that led to the moment.

When we look back and perform an examination of conscience on life’s past events, we can see that before an event took place, there was an event that sparked it, that catapulted it into the next universe. Raising our levels of consciousness in this matter takes patience, time, and openness to the message that God will give us.

The greater picture though are the events that we cannot stop from happening, not the ones we can. The ones where we are helpless, and can only watch from the sidelines. These become movies playing in our minds about what we could or should have done. But the fact of the matter is that traveling to those destinations should not produce in you the anxiety of the should’ve or would’ve, but rather a deeper understanding of who you’ve become and where you are going because of it.

We cannot rewrite these narratives

If we look back on the story of Judas, we often wonder why the Lord would have chosen someone that He knew would betray Him. We become angry and judge Judas for what He did to our Lord, selling his life away and making a deal with the devil. But every word in the scriptures, both the old and the new testament, has a place and purpose.

It is only when we stop and reflect on that purpose when our eyes become open  and we are able to watch God at work

As we sit back and reflect on today’s gospel reading, we remember that every soul on this earth has a purpose, a role to play in the story of salvation. Whether atheist or non-religious, Christian or otherwise, God is universal and uses every soul to write His story. Judas is no different. He is a man who went bankrupt- in spirit and in truth.

He is not unlike the rest of us

Judas’ betrayal becomes the catalyst for the events which place Jesus on a cross. One could say He is responsible for the arrest, torture and death of Jesus. But if you don’t stay in that space, if you make a pilgrimage in your mind to walk a little further, you can also say this.

Judas is responsible for the resurrection as well. 

Although he did not stick around to see it, he should have. Scripture says he killed himself instead. Marred with sorrow and grief, he took the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, and blamed himself unto death. Judas’ suicide was in fact an acknowledgment of his betrayal to God. It was not an act of sin, it was an act of sorrow.

We too can blame ourselves for the pain that we have caused our Lord. And if that were all, we would just stay in that place and not move. This does not produce any fruit, only worldly guilt, that only leads to self-doubt, anxiety and brings death where there should be life.

Godly sorrow always produces life while the world’s sorrow produces only death

If we stay in that dark night, in that betrayal, in that shame, we will find that there is no way out. Reflecting on Judas’ mistake should help us reflect on our own. But that reflection should bring us to that tree, the one where Judas took His life, and have us say, Lord help me die to self. Don’t let it be night in my soul.

We can live the events of Holy Week in a more profound way if we enter into the mystery, place ourselves in the story, and not judge the people that we read about. Both the Old and the New Testaments were given to us by God as a great gift. But more than that they were given to us as a last will and testament by God.

So today as you are opening up God’s word, remember you are opening up not only His will but His will, what he has left behind for us, a direction, a disposition of his property to us. And a will is not meant to be buried away, it is meant to be read, so that a person can determine what they get.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see what God has left you

 

Day 97- The Mile I Broke

The dance of the perfumed oil was not the smell of life, but that of death. It was a preparation, a love story, a total consecration. The one whose heart beat for the one whose heart would soon be stopped. 

The scene of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair is a movement of love. It is an act of worship, a passionate “yes.” The contradiction of the time was that is was in fact a  woman, and not a man, who was performing this religious ritual. It was Mary who was preparing Jesus for death.

The subtlety of the movement can be lost if we expect complicated answers. Worship is not an act that is performed for others, it is an act performed for one. 

Her movement was intentional, the dowry that was all that she had, the most precious gift.

The very thing that was meant to make her was the very thing that she gave away

The costly bottle of nard was the entirety of her inheritance, what the world had given to define what she might have been. And while for years the fragrant nard sat listless in that bottle, it came alive at the feet of Jesus with purpose and meaning.

The breaking of the fragrant oil at the feet of Christ was not a waste, it was a rebellion 

And while we contemplate this one small act, this sacred mystery of what that nard may have smelled like, the sweet smell that reaches our nostrils should remind us of the sweetness and the sorrow of preparing ourselves for Holy Week. We too are to prepare the body of our Lord for proper burial, but how do we do that?

By breaking our most precious possession, by breaking our alabaster box

It has been several weeks since our vulnerabilities have been exposed, since time at home has forced us to stare into the eyes of our maker. We have found ourselves helpless, crying, desperate and out of control. We have realized that we are small.

And in that smallness, we have either continued to live our lives as if God did not exist, or we like Mary, have fallen at the feet of Christ and found ourselves desperate and unworthy. Mary did not break that alabaster jar to have it go to waste, we too should not break ours without counting the cost.

And what is it in your alabaster jar that you do not want to break it?

Do you refuse to give alms because the church is closed?

Have you accumulated earthly treasures that you have hoarded away?

Are you holding on to that very important thing- your job, your pride, whatever it is that you refuse to let go, refuse to break, because you think that it belongs to you?

Would you not rather be able to break that alabaster box of your own free will in an act of worship and total devotion to God rather than have the sin of man break it for you?

What is in your alabaster box?

Sit with these questions. The answers will come to you. If it’s all that you have, if it is everything, you must count the cost.

Have you truly counted the cost of being a follower of Christ?

It will cost you everything…

Heavenly Father,

I have been clutching my alabaster box close to me and am unwilling to break it for you. Now before your passion and death, I beg of you to expose me, to help me to break it, so that I can be free to serve you with my whole heart. I have waited for this very moment, like Mary, to give myself away to you, as the bride does for her bridegroom. I am here at your feet, box in hand, waiting for your words.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

 

 

90 Seconds

How do you live one moment at a time? You cannot. This concept is wholly secular. Moments are increments of time that pass in movement from once frame to the next. They are snippets. They are still frames that can only be entered once the “moment” has passed. And, we move on to the next moment…

There is a lot of pressure to live “in” the moment. But moments are passing shadows. The movement of a shadow on a sundial covered 40 moments in a solar hour. On average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds. And moments, (for all that they are not these days), were marked by a call to prayer at various intervals throughout the day. They were not a random “creation” of moments, they were an intentional calling on God, a movement towards Him. Even the earliest reference to the moment was defined by a Saint (St. Bede the Venerable).

When taken out of context, the moment becomes distorted, like other concepts extracted from out of their holy boxes. The world takes them and twists them to fit their own relativism, where one is in control of who and what they are. The God-man is lost in self-help books and do-it-yourselfers. And the moment? The moment fades away (how very cliche).

But if we return to mark our own moments, good and bad, can God change them? Can He use them? Or does the passage of 90 seconds define our whole lives? Each bead of the rosary marks a moment that I can change, a prayer, defining me. The now is the now I ask for Mary to pray for me, in this very moment, fifty times.

So the decades of the rosary are made up of moments, are marked by intentional prayer, are graces I give away after consecrating myself to our Holy Mother. And in those moments that have passed me without prayer, can I strive to make them holy by praying over them, especially the ones that stop me from enjoying life, the ones that rob me of my joy?

I say, contradict the world.

LET THE MOMENT PASS. DON’T HOLD ONTO IT. Jesus said as much to Mary Magdalene…

 

Enough

I’m saying sorry over and over again- but it is not good enough for you. Man made perfect, you are perfect. I am apologizing for things that I did’t even do.

I hate you in my mind for making me feel this way. That I’ll never be good enough, brave enough, I’ll never be anything enough for you. Because that goal of what is enough is impossible to attain. You yourself are not even aware of it. What is your enough?

The words you say are spears and they’ve made a thousand and one cuts in the core of my heart. They are deep enough to penetrate flesh, they are deep enough to wound. The heart rests on the inside of the body and wounds deep are not visible- on the outside.

If you are not the God-man how can you say that you do not forgive me, even for a thing that I did not do? Because the gift of forgiveness is transcendent, the radiant face of Jesus, the blood of the cross and the Eucharist on my tongue, and you are not sitting next to me… in the pew.

Can it ever be enough, when will I ever be enough? My Heavenly Father seems to think I am enough…already. I am enough, even through all my faults, and spills and messes. Jesus is on the floor with me holding the rag, cleaning up the blood that I did not spill.

And though my heart is broken, His is too- for me and for you. That I am enough for Him and not for you. That my humanness is limiting. That my good is not good enough, for you. That to Him, I am walking towards transfiguration, making change, wanting Holiness, but to you I am defined by the sin that plagues   you..

Love is a choice. You can choose to love me, despite all of my flaws, and faults and irregularities. You can love me when I apologize to you for what you did, when I cover up for you and you blame me, when you tell me I am responsible for your sin and those of your father. And your father’s father.

This is Lent. A working out of my salvation. The voices in my head telling me not to forgive. The pain and the beauty. The little Easters. The desperately seeking Jesus. The seven times seventy-seven times forgiveness- without condition. The transformation inside me. The molding and the aching. The paying for the sins of another. The ugliness of your father’s father. This is the movement towards the cross. This is the cross. These are the rules of engagement.

Forgive, Forgive, Forgive

 

 

Cloistered Words

It took several hours for me to find silence. At first I chased it, then shunned it, then cried over it. I had been led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and tasked to give up time- but very specific time. The time I spend in indulgence on platforms like You Tube watching silly videos or other such things that lead my mind to numbness. And although on first blush one might think that I was being to hard on myself, if you look deeper you can find the root of God’s request. When we substitute one thing for another to numb the pain or busyness of life, it is not holy, it is tragedy.

In my “day” job, I live as an attorney representing a major metropolitan police department. I am involved on a larger scale in our county on issues that effect millions of people- school shootings, the role of school resource officers and the taking of guns from people who are not in a place to have them. I look at horrible pictures, write laws and make decisions for people who are not equipped to make them for themselves. I have been operating within the confines of the criminal justice system for the past almost twenty years.

And so when I yearn for a break, for decompression, for peace, it is hard to simply “sit” in silence. The echoes of war ring deep in my soul. I think of guns, dying and the battlefield that my police officers live on daily. I worry about them, I pray for them, and I pray for myself. But most days, I cannot seem to simply let go…

So God asked me to fill my “quiet” time with all things Him, not to use escapes to deal with pain or to allow my mind to simply wander. And I attempted this for the first time on Day 4 of Lent, as days 1-3 were so busy at work and home I practically fell asleep in my clothes. After God cleared my calendar yesterday and I vehemently objected, I was left with nothing but myself… and Him.

And so I heeded His call. I found myself immersed in a documentary called “Chosen, ” a behind the scenes look at life as a cloistered nun behind the sacred walls of a monastery. The subtitle of the film, “Custody of the Eyes.”

The film was breathtaking and deeply disturbing all at the same time. But the disturbance was in my soul. I longed to be locked up with them even if only for  a short period of time. I adored their habit, simplicity and love for our Lord. I felt interrupted and challenged, questioning myself and my vocation, thinking about all of the time I had wasted not focused on the eyes of Jesus. I wanted my house to be a convent, a reflection of Him and His love for humanity.

One hour and 44 minutes is a long time to spend in a monastery, and I didn’t ever want it to end. I thought about their rules, expectations and order and I craved that. I have always had a profound respect and love for nuns since I was a small child. Maybe it was me gazing into my future entry into beloved Mother Church…

But I came out on the other end changed, wanting, needing…more. I felt alive in the silence of their monastery walls. I wanted to rid myself of idleness, of cheap substitutes and distractions. Because time is limited. Because it all should belong to God.

You can read more about “Chosen” here

I encourage you to watch it this Lent. For those at parishes that have the app “Formed” it can be found on there.

 

Hidden

There is a part of us that is still hidden. A part misunderstood. A part exposed. But sometimes they are disconnected, separated   far     apart.

The hiddenness of God is a sacred thing. Like a veil over the tabernacle, we cover ourselves internally so nobody can touch us there. And at the center of that tabernacle of our soul is the Lord’s eucharistic love that was created in us and existed from the beginning of time. We may not want to touch our very hidden parts, but He does. For Him, that hiddenness is certainly exposed.

Your Father sees in secret.

Lent is certainly a time of reflection and barren deserts. And while the wastelands are where I find myself most at ease, I desire more than the grain of sand. I desire the molecule behind it. I want to FEEL the sand, not simply touch it. I want the in-between-the-fingers not simply the palms. I want the inside of the grain.

I want my soul exposed in the hot sun of the noonday.

We don’t have to wander through the desert like the Israelites. We don’t have to complain. We can journey and praise and fall on our knees, not asking for quail but asking for whatever God sends to sustain us. Fasting from the whole world and leaving it far, far behind,

Lent is self-sacrifice, perseverance, exposition, tears. It is the big gaping hole inside of your chest. It is the longing for that something more. It is the urge to sin and be saved at the exact same time. It is the walking towards sainthood and the wanting to experience temporal human pleasure. It is the sacred heart of Jesus, the walking it out, the insides of His insides and not mine. It is working out my salvation with fear and trembling for a God who offers me more than this world ever could. It is constant forgiveness for the man who took everything from me, remembering that God offers Him forgiveness too.

How can you get up in the morning and not want to be near Him while the hot beating sun is at your back? Forget cheap devotionals and WWJD bracelets. Isn’t it time to deal with your demons?

Stay still but walking. His voice will ricochet off your soul. The sweet spot of God can only be found in wanting and trial. Come join me in the desert.