Hard Blessings

When my kids were little and my days were organized chaos, I would day-dream of being a Carmelite nun. Oh, to have a quiet little cell for study. Slipping into the chapel for a quick visit with our Lord. Praying the Psalms with heavenly chant. Bliss.

Of course, being a Carmelite is not about quiet study and a search for bliss. It is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult and humbling vocations the Church offers. To be wholly cut off from the world, to pray constantly, 24/7 both in private and in community. There are no vacations, no accolades. The Carmelite monastery of today looks pretty much like it did 100 years ago, and 100 hundred years before that.

I know that the Carmelite life was not for me. (The Great Silence alone would be a complete disaster.) I know that I was meant for marriage and family; this would be my path to holiness.

"Holiness" is so important - it is our means of obtaining Heaven. We emulate Christ, his manners, his prayer. We take and eat, at his command, his Body and Blood, in order to gain eternal life.

But in the day-to-day of it, holiness looks a lot like work. There is laundry to do, meals to cook and serve (Oops - just let me get that spilled milk.) The lawn has to get mowed, the dog walked, the bills paid. SOMEbody has to write those lesson plans. This is my path to holiness? I liked my Carmelite daydream better.

The past two years have been really difficult. My health is a constant concern. Our finances -better now! - have been a mess. And I've lost all 4 of the jobs I'v had in the last two years.

Now, while the physical aspects of my health aren't great, that is far easier for me to deal with than the mental aspects. I forget things. A lot. In a conversation with someone, I'll struggle for a word. (One time, someone asked me the name of the book I'd written. Yeah...took me few minutes to pull that up.) Driving requires directions, even to places I've been before. The worst of it is this: I do sub-par work, and don't even notice. (Since you asked so nicely: depression, anxiety and PTSD.)

I could easily turn in a written piece to an editor with a dozen typos in it, and not realize the shoddy work I'd done. I give misinformation. I struggle to place names and faces. Sometimes my pain is so bad, that there just isn't a coherent thought in my head.

Now, I don't have a job. Every time I think about having a job, I start to hyper-ventilate. I still have panic attacks when I just drive by the building where
I last worked.  Everything needs a checklist, everything needs to be written down.

This time has been a hard gift as well: I'm nearly done with a book I've been working on. I get to go to daily Mass and Adoration much more often. And my beautiful little chapel is our deck, with the most comfortable chair, a bevy of plants and flowers, blue skies, trees.

By nature, I tend to be more Eeyore than Pooh. That includes my spiritual life as well. A few weeks ago, I was having a particularly hard time - sometimes, I don't feel like I'm "doing" anything of value. And I feel as if I have no value.

It's a very ambiguous place to be. I loathe ambiguity. It's quiet. I'm not. All of my prayers seem to come back with answer, "Not yet."

Except one. I was thinking/praying/pondering about my whole situation. I acknowledge, Yes, God: you have been gracious to me. Thank you, thank you. And I'm not saying I don't want to be holy.... but.....'

Spit it out, child!' 

Well, I thought it would feel better ... you know, as you get holier."

And God grumbled up His answer to me: "It might. But not for you."

I'm awaiting more hard blessings.

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