Messenger by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird-
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
How is He astonishing you today?
Another argument. Same cycle.
It’s the same repetitive fight we have all too often: he’s sick and isn’t able to give me as much energy or time that I would like or need to feel loved each day in our marriage. I feel like I’ve had to sacrifice so much for him and adjust MY life, MY dreams and MY social circles. He constantly feels like he’s not good enough for me and feels like he is failing. I’m feeling unloved and he’s feeling disrespected.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
We attack each other and get angry at each other, instead of directing our anger elsewhere. For me, I need to direct my anger and resentment towards God and also against the Evil one. Because I know that God asked me to marry this amazing man…in sickness and health. And I did agree with Him. However, I arrived in this marriage ready with 1,000 expectations (mostly in part from what I’ve seen in the movies) that I didn’t know I had and pushed them onto my husband. And I wasn’t ready for reality, the reality of marriage, of illness and of him. I barely gave him a chance to be freely who God was asking him to be.
And for him, that means being a man of amazing character, wit, intelligence and love. A man whose body may be fighting against its own immune system, but whose spirit is alive and determination is impeccable. And deep down, he wants to love me the way I need it…
Instead, I look to my husband, my expectations and to God at times and scream — WHY DON’T I DESERVE XYZ?? WHY CAN’T I GET WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED IN MARRIAGE? WHY DOES MY HUSBAND HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS? WHY DO I HAVE TO SUFFER EACH DAY WITNESSING HIM SUFFER? WHY CAN’T WE TRAVEL MORE? WHY CAN’T WE HAVE DATE NIGHTS?
None of this makes sense. None of this is logical. None of this can be explained – maybe never will be. Day in and day out, our life is unpredictable. This is one of the crosses that God is asking us to bear. And I have to admit, there are several days where I throw it back at Him telling Him that I don’t want this one. I’ve fallen just as He did, underneath the cross. And I will keep falling because I am realizing that I can’t bear it alone. He is near, very close and wants to help me an he sends people into my life to do this for me as well.
The beauty of suffering as Christians is that we GET to mirror the life of Jesus Christ. Day after day, picking up the cross and continuing on the journey, alongside our friends and family.
My marriage brings heavy crosses. However, the daily “yes” or fiat and daily cry for help greater than myself, allows me the opportunity to submit. To release all control.
The challenge for me in all of this is that it’s actually really about control. The unpredictability, unfilled expectations, health issues that we face on a daily basis all force me to my knees. And force me to accept this fact: I am not in control. He is and always will be.
And yet, who am I to always think I am?
Let Him be Greater today.
“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him,and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
– 1 John 3:19-24
As part of my Spiritual Direction formation, I was asked to make a 19th Annotated Ignatian Retreat on the Spiritual Exercises. Whoa. I had heard of making a 30-day silent retreat with the Spiritual Exercises if you felt as though you may be called into a religious vocation. However, this version of the exercises was created for “busy” people. Instead of 30 days, you stretch it out over 30 weeks. I will be working with a spiritual director on a monthly basis to complete the retreat. I am committing to praying for an hour each day for the next 8 months. I am excited about this new journey, but also a little nervous as to what God will reveal to me.
These exercises were written by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 1500s. He was a Spanish soldier wounded in battle. While he lay healing in the hospital, he experienced a conversion. He later wrote these exercises for prayer and founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
Please pray that God will provide what I need during this retreat and for the grace to accept it! St. Ignatius, pray for me.
Have any of you ever done the retreat?
This is my praise report section and I offer it to you to add things as well. Sometimes it’s hard to see how God is working in our lives because we are too caught up in them and it may be easier to read how He is working in other’s live. It’s the best kind of reminder!
I believe that God asks us to partake in a mission for the present moment we are in. After working in full-time ministry for the Catholic Church for 14 years, I could easily get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to be down in building God’s kingdom on earth. However, St. Teresa of Calcutta’s words ring true, “do small things with great love.” God wasn’t asking me to save the world, He was asking me to be present to people – to whomever He brought into my path that day.
How can I be Christ to this person, in this moment?
Sometimes that could be a smile or a hug, other times it could mean I pay for their lunch or simply listen to what they need to share.
This became a lot less daunting to me and a lot more practical.
There were times when I simply offered a nice gesture (to strangers), times when I could sense what this person may need, but other times I just asked them. “What is it that you need right now?” I imagine that is also the way the Lord approaches us each day in prayer.
When I imagine Him asking this of me, my heart is instantly at ease. It also allows me the freedom to identify what my needs are and to communicate them. It forces me to feel humbled that He would ask, and also to trust Him with my heart. It pushes into the core of my heart and allows me to rest in His goodness.
Knowing that we are sinners and imperfect human beings, this practice of being in tune with others allows them the opportunity to trust us enough to care for them as best as we can. To also allow the Lord of the universe to care for them.
What are the missions of the moment that He is directing you towards today?