Sunday, August 13, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Some Thoughts with John of the Cross

This is very good:

"...the intellect must be perfected in the darkness of faith, the memory in the emptiness of hope, and the will in the nakedness and absence of every affection."

John of the Cross writes of the phases and journey of the soul to union with God.

As for the senses, even the spiritual senses--locutions, dreams, visions, various messages--there comes a phase in which the soul is left to float seemingly alone of sorts, and Christ is the One to give a message now and then, but even He will say (as He did to me over five years ago) "there will be no more messages for awhile."

The only one of Him appearing in the doorway to the little room I used to sleep in until recently, was:  LOOK AT ME.

So I must look at Jesus in His earthly life, through the Living Word, and in His not being in any form of the senses--not images, thought or knowing other than in faith and hope that is unseen.  So to love and love simply, and to just keep going here, without expectation.


I wrote quite a bit to a friend, and the above is the excerpt for now that seems most bare of all the details of other aspects of my current temporal circumstance, right now, yet in enough debilitating pain that forces me from the distraction and physical progress of manual labor.  Work has become a joy not only in the depth of prayer that can occur during work, but also as a means of distraction from physical pain and progress toward the next temporal phase of which I know not, yet.

And when I let the thoughts go forward into wondering and figuring and researching where, the present moment is lost.  And the frustrations increase for the present moment is not allowing temporal progress.

John of the Cross' writings are a gift from the Lord at this point in time.  I'm grateful.  Even if they do not stick with me beyond the present moment, I grasp them and know I am in the journey and progression spiritually, being brought by God to Himself.  I have no need of knowing when or what more, and it is well for me to not attempt to find out when or what more in the temporal, either!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Catholic Hermit Amidst Suffering

Not sure why, but the low back has kicked up a fuss.  Pain radiating through intestines; just trying to manage pain, recalling last year's ambulance ride to ER.  Yes, pain med I-V toned it down, but I don't need that drama repeated.

So, I am mostly on the mattress, now moved from the small room to the living room (which now has floors leveled and new hardwood installed, of which I enjoyed the process and effort with grateful results).  Was able to pick strawberries this morning, green beans, squash.  Set them on roadside stand and all is gone but some of the zucchini.  

Perhaps the bending to pick berries and beans did not help the low back; but it surely stretched out some muscles which is always a benefit.  And my mind was far off in praying about not sure who or what, but at the present moment it was all quite clear and lovely within, with the Lord and life and soul.

Yesterday was able to leverage off the truck, one of the two double-door closet unit, with frame.  While leaning on tailgate, I then had to take off all shipping brackets holding the frame with the two doors intact.  Next, I removed the hinges from the doors and a piece of wood across the bottom, also holding the doors and frame in place. That done, I could lift each door, one at a time, from the frame and lean them against some other doors in the pole barn.  The door jam frame itself I was able to carry into the hermitage.  Getting it upstairs to the near-finished room for the closet will have to come another day and perhaps with someone else helping to make sure I do not gouge the stairwell walls.

This evening I forced the body to go out and leverage off the second and last closet door unit.  I admit I feel quite ill from the effort, but there is moisture in the mornings; the doors are not solid wood.  Best to be under cover other than the cardboard I had over them in the truck bed.

Am back into spiritual reading somewhat, amidst suffering.  I probably pray more about it than do it--do the reading.  But today's reading of introductory comments to another section of St. John of the Cross' writings in itself felt good.  Yes, it simply felt very good to read about what I will next read about in what the saint is going to instruct.  The sections have to do with ridding out attachments--attachments to things and aspects of the physical, of the senses, and attachments in the spiritual elements.  We humans, of course, are both sensory and spiritual beings.

I read the writings of John of the Cross a decade or more ago.  That is, I read through most, but for whatever reason stopped prior to finishing--drawn off by some other spiritual book or writings of another mystic saint or hermit.  I'm finding that now, in this present moment, there will be far more meaning in what John writes and advises; for I've had far more experiences in these years--more "death therapy" as I call it.

Perhaps it is quite blessed that I've had increased pain bouts lately, of the type that nail me to the cross.  I'm at the point in which I am crying out to the Lord to have mercy on my soul.  And I'm reaching for the spiritual writing that will help me endure in the unknowing of how long, how painful, how on  earth of anything here!  I continue with the daily Mass readings of Scripture.  The Living Word is powerful--but I also admit I return to the Scriptures, particularly the Gospel, off and on in the day to remind me.

Painful suffering does tend to make short term memory not hang on to much.  I suppose it is as well, for each time I re-read some portion of Scripture or even review some of what I've read in John of the Cross, the mind is absorbing in the present moment.  In fact, it is no doubt best that way--to live and think and read and do and feel and love God and others in the present moment--not in the past nor the future.

Yet I'm utilizing thoughts of the past to remind myself that usually the pain sieges lessen, and I am able to return to the manual labor and exterior upkeep required here to progress in order to sell and be out from under the financial dearth.  The lender of the short term loan would like to be repaid sooner than later with the latest being spring.  My bodily pain is not making it happen sooner; and it could be that the present moment will not allow completion.

Faith is like that--not knowing other than in some deep and blindly hidden way we know God is with us, God will take care of us, God loves us.  And the taking care of us--that is what trips us up often enough if we have expectations of what we think we need or how He should provide.  

That is one aspect that John of the Cross repeats about the spiritual path to union with God.  God takes us along the path and takes us to Himself, and He does so with whatever means such as many trials and sufferings that we must pass through, endure if we can to some degree or other, and on to the sweet release of finding ourselves in His love fully and completely.

All I know is that I'm on the journey; and this is what God needs for my perfection--or what John of the Cross prefers in terminology rather than spiritual perfection: union with God.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Catholic Hermit Considers Aging Hermits

Recently a hermit in another part of the country kindly invited me to visit his area to consider when I must leave this place (need to finish it and-sell due to long-story-made short: finances).  The hermit who made contact has had hopes of forming a community of hermits, of sorts, in his area.  Another hermit lives in the vicinity, rents a small house, and perhaps would like someone to share the space.  

The hermit of contact mentioned their ages and that as all hermits get older, it is a consideration to  have some support.

While I am not called to living in community with other hermits nor to live with another hermit in a house or such, I do respect and find valid these hermits' considerations and desire for them to do so.  

Historically, hermits tended to live, suffer, and die alone in the earliest centuries, or in some cases if others followed them to the desert or forests to join in the hermit life, some of these others might come to tend a hermit who was ill, aging, and dying.  Or, if the hermit lived near a monastery, something the superior would send brothers to assist the hermit in illness or coming death, or would invite the hermit to live in the monastery as a guest, to be cared for hospitably in his or her final days.  Or in the case of a hermit being a brother or sister within the religious order but had gone out to live in a hermitage, the superior sometimes would call in the hermit when age or infirmity set in.

St. Seraphim the Sarov was beaten by robbers in his hermitage, and the superior ordered Seraphim to return to the monastery--for treatment after being attacked and then to remain for the superior deemed it unsafe for Seraphim to live out by himself given the risk of more assaults.  Seraphim did not want to live in the monastery but obeyed; yet he remained mostly in his room and locked himself in often enough.  He died along in his room, in fact: door locked.

There are practical considerations for hermits in all time periods, and perhaps especially now when there are increased financial and societal responsibilities of which we cannot escape.  There are perhaps more safety concerns, or more complications in daily life for an older or ailing hermit.  Especially if one lived with nearby neighbors or was more known by others in the vicinity, parish, diocese--a hermit could not then maintain the solitude for others would follow the conventions of our times of not simply letting someone be ill and die without intervening in their situation.

Yet, it can be done.  There is less likelihood of  simply living out one's life on one's own in our times if the hermit is more involved with those around him or her.  The greater the activity and interactions, the more contacts one would have, and the less silence of solitude and the lessened ability to live as well as to die, with God alone.

The electrician who has helped me with the renovation efforts came today.  I have the role as his assistant, handing him tools and parts--such as today, we installed three ceiling fans and three light fixtures.  When I had to take a break to get the upper back pain under control, he rewired a light I had installed for I had difficulty getting a different type of wire conductors to remain intact within the wire nuts....

He spoke of a woman friend he has been dating (I suppose, or going out with--whatever the terminology now) for a couple years.  Each being older, the relationship is not as urgent, shall we say, for marriage.  It is a friendship for some companionship, yet the woman would like to see him more, and he appreciates simply being at his place often enough, after a day of work.  But the woman has mentioned she would like more, and one reason being that she does not want to die old and all alone, with someone finding her body.

I've considered that I'd love to die as such!  Alone, no one finding my body for several days or longer--to die alone, just God and me!  Yet I may not get my wish.  Perhaps if I die of a lingering illness, something more predictable, and if my adult children by then have a desire to see me prior to death, I will have to be charitable to others with whatever wishes others have.

Or, it may be necessary to have some assistance if the suffering involves certain care that medical professionals have become involved in the process.  Ill and aging people more often than not, cannot simply slip through the blessed cracks.  Others tend to not stand for it, not allow it, and soon enough the person--hermit or not!--is relegated to the end-of-life "system".  

I don't think the friend of the electrician needs to worry about being left to die alone.  She has a nephew or niece or such, a sibling or two, co-workers, and she has the electrician as a companion off and on even if they live in their separate places.

And I suppose the hermits who consider starting a community of hermits of some sort or other, would not be left untended should illness strike.  Yet, it is true, in our time period, as one ages, there are such needs as when one can no longer drive.  If the hermit needs to go to the doctor or to get provisions, help would be required.

I guess I have not thought about it that much, which is good.  I used to be far more concerned prior to coming to this place and not having neighbors who want involvement.  It has turned out to be rather ideal for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit! I've never had success even when very ill, to have the couple of people who knew how ill I was, willing to take me to hospital or doctor. But God provided a free ambulance ride on one occasion and the grace and literal strength beyond the odds for me to drive myself on another occasion.

As for starting a community or any group, I don't see a need for it, myself.  Must be what I jokingly but realistically call this experience here: death therapy.  It has helped me die to myself, and at least in my mind I'd prefer going along as I'm learning increasingly to do, in the Order of the Present Moment. I suspect, as has happened on lesser occasions, that when I need help of some sort--well, help of some sort arrives, occurs, or is offered.

I guess I appreciate the element of not-knowing, and of learning to assume, and rightly so, that the Lord has it all covered by His providence and grace.  While I used to not have this attitude instilled within, it has come to me over these past four years of some rather rugged circumstances and some steep illnesses and pain sieges.  Four years have past, and the trials and struggles worked out in one way or another.

Regardless, I appreciate other hermits' thoughts about having more support via other hermits, or to live near one another especially in the aging process.  It would provide a sense of security, I suppose, and a given support network.  But it might also bring some distractions and take away the element of Spirit-spontaneity and holy surprises.

Will be fascinating to see how it unfolds, at least with this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit.  The Lord might decide opposite of what I think I'd like.  I could end up having to be in a busy environment in the end, or to have others step in and fulfill what they think best.

I consider John of the Cross in his final few months, especially the final two months.  By then he was so close to the Lord that he really did not care where he was ordered to live or be, or of what treatment (it was horrible) by which he was treated.  He was happy enough to know that how it was unfolding would hasten his death, yet his main desire was to be with God whether still breathing on earth or taking in the fresh "air" of heaven.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Catholic Hermit Keeps Nose to Grindstone

Sometimes it is just best to do so.  Keep the nose to the grindstone.  Plow through the trials and sufferings, the doubts, the victories, the ups, the downs.  Just keep a goin'!  Simply keep going!

I was working and praying, on a spiritual roll of sorts.  Then suffering came, physical suffering as well as some accompanying soul work necessary for some spiritual growth--healing of some memories and life events, past, and further holy indifference topped with increased, genuine charity for the love and well-being of others.

Had to just let go.  However, the suffering has been such that I wanted to remove myself from part of the impetus of the suffering--external, temporal causation.  I just about did it; had a destination and friend more than pleased that I might come and be a quiet guest hibernating in a spare bedroom.  The cost was going to be high, and there were aspects in the desire to be free of the added physical pain that I wanted to make sure did not have emotional taint of any sort.

So I decided to tough it out, the suffering, and to be pragmatic and not spend money for there is no room for added costs that are not purely necessary.  For awhile, though, the suffering was so acute that I felt to remain in it was unwise when getting to a different location would ease the causes of much of the pain.

Today the suffering lifted some--enough to be up off the mattress for awhile, and to actually pick some beans and Snow peas, and to get a couple quarts of berries to the roadside table, quite early morning.  And I was able to measure and cut some ceiling trim boards for an upstairs bedroom--including making a crucial error in one of the boards.  Ran it through the table saw from the incorrect end from what needed to be trimmed down....  

There are no spare pieces of trim; the reason I have only so much is that I was given a tremendously good deal on a pile of trim because it was being discontinued.  Now I must take the tiny shaved pieces and try to glue them to the end of trim board needing to be built back out to proper width.  This should be an interesting effort.  I have yet to tackle it for I needed to head back to the mattress for bodily rest required for this type of pain to be managed.

With the error in cutting, I realized it was time to change external effort .  Sometimes the praying during manual labor can become intense enough that work mistakes do happen.  The mind and heart and soul are so intent upon the prayer need and person with situations included, that there is not much of the conscious mind focusing on such as a piece of wood and which end to trim.

This does not happen often, but today it was a victory when it did happen.  I did not react other than with some humor and knowing it was time to attend to something other--not to cease communicating with the Lord, listening and "seeing" with inner sight who He brings for prayer, mercy, love (and this can include the hermit as well as others living and dead).  The listening and seeing does not cease or shift gears, but the temporal activity shifts when the flow is disrupted.

No big deal.

Hermits have phases. [Surely everyone in whatever vocation in life, has phases of varying degrees and intensities whether one recognizes them or not.] This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit does!  The phases are part of spiritual progression, no matter how slow or how infrequent a change in phase.  The current phase is that of increased holy indifference; and when something very movingly deep that is yet unhealed or a negative aspect of the body, mind, heart or spirit presents itself, the hermit must tend to it...sooner, later, slower, faster. 

I never know in advance what challenges will come forth either from within or from without, dealing with self, people, relationships and situations.  It is all part of life here on earth and the soul's striving toward union with God.  So today there has been breakthrough in this phase, and the Lord has shown some victory after the storm of several days' heavy suffering.

And suffering can be physical but also otherwise.  And suffering in a mystic is different than suffering in one who is not a mystic. It just is, and there is no real explaining it, for mystics already grasp the differences and non-mystics do not and in some aspects cannot.  They are called to other gifts and missions than what mystics contend with in this world and life.

None of it really matters, other than for the person, him- or herself, to grasp and make the most of the interflow and communication between the soul and God, with the challenges and sufferings and victories that make up the on-going phases of the inner life as it outflows in the external existence, as well.

Another hermit has been in contact and invited me to visit his area and where another hermit lives in the vicinity.  This other hermit thought perhaps I might move there if God so willed, when my time here is past.  And part of the thought was to perhaps share an abode with one of the hermits.  But I am not called to that, although early on in my consecrated hermit life I thought a hermit community might be exactly what I would be involved with or help develop.

Not so, as the sixteen years and more of my eremitic vocation have unfolded; and yet I was quite grateful for the invitation and the thought and idea presented.  Yet, at least in this phase, I sense that I am not called to live with others, not with hermits or otherwise, but to remain quite hidden as a hermit, living in the silence of solitude, unrecognizable as a hermit to neighbors or the few employees in the dwindling times I must run errands for mostly building supplies.

(Another very real and temporal consideration is climate, for my physical pain is increased in certain climates.  There is the Lord's suffering that He asks us to share in union with Him, and then there are the sufferings we can bring on ourselves, such as if I'd live in a location in which the climate causes increased suffering.  Such is the case with the lovely location of the invitation mentioned, at least for part of the year.)

Next week I must head back into civilization for Craig at lumberyard has said that the four doors I've ordered will be in.  Tomorrow the electrician might come to help install some ceiling fans and other fixtures, and to wire a pull-chain light in the cellar space.  My being or not being a consecrated Catholic hermit never comes up, no recognition as such, and it never needs to.

I am loving St. John of the Cross' sayings of "love and light."  As I think I may have mentioned previously, in one he mentions the great value in simply loving God in silence.  Just silently love God, says the mystic saint, and that is quite a tremendous prayer, a great communication of a soul with the Bridegroom.

Ah, yes!  Despite whatever outer noise, suffering, and untold work efforts amidst temporal distractions (nagging as they can be), the soul continues to delight in the silent love of God, in solitude, even if exterior or interior thoughts and words exist involving others.  

It is all very, very good for the soul in whatever phase of spiritual progression.  And there is no need to figure out what phase, for there will always be more and always were some previously.  It is delightful, though, and a grace from the Lord, to recognize the flow of phases for we then know the Lord is progressing us in whatever way and circumstance and condition--"place"-- He wills.  Time does not matter other than the Present Moment.

God bless His Real Presence in us, dear friends in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Up in the night, and thought this excerpt from The Catechism of the Catholic Church to be helpful to any of us in our attempts at being followers of Jesus Christ.

2046 By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, "a kingdom of justice, love, and peace." They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love.

I've been working hard here, trying to paint the pole barn sides in the cooler part of day.  The task is made more difficult by needing to dig dirt out and away from lower portions; the metal can rust and rot when the soil is wet.  In some areas, the elderly woman who lived and died here, had hired someone to put plastic down and against the side before backfilling with dirt.  I will add plastic in other areas not done.  It is a good idea but not totally foolproof; yet it is worth doing.  I also am going to try putting the styrofoam "baffles" that I have on hand, down in there.  I don't think styrofoam decomposes much.

In the hotter portions of the day I continue laying the natural hickory wood flooring.  It is a slow process, particularly in smaller areas such as under the stairs and in a wide hall off which are a bathroom and small room  as well as laundry area tucked under the stairs.

I might add to the above excerpt that I try to fulfill my earthly tasks with a sense of enJOYment, for the attitude seems crucial when we witness to others, even if no one sees but knows we are hard at work with challenging or tedious tasks.  

When up on the extension ladder pulled to full height, and then having to still reach or place the ladder with very little slant, I pray for those with most crucial needs, hoping that the difficulty of the task I'm doing somehow lends itself to deeper and more intense praying.  However, it could be also that our prayers are efficacious when we are not in intense situations but in joyful situations.  Thus making a difficult or challenging work effort joyful, seems worthwhile.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Let us love God above all things and others as God loves!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Catholic Hermit Considers What Is Greater

 Jesus said:  "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here." 

Then He continues to explain that He desires not sacrifice, but mercy.

For a couple days or so I've been mulling this Scripture.  Then yesterday came a forwarded email of one bishop responding to a "famous" priest; their views differ greatly on morals and church law, both.  One is what some would call conservative or orthodox (sticks with Scripture and also canon law), and the other would be considered liberal or progressive (is heavy on love of all types and bending--I guess we could call it--canon law.

I found myself not that interested in the situation or debate, back and forth. 

By now, most Christians who have read Scripture and strive in the Christian life, know right from wrong, know pretty much what Jesus says in the Gospels and also what God has set forth in the Pentateuch (first five books of Bible, Old Testament), as well as the preaching and lives of the prophets, the Psalmists, and the books and letters written by the apostles.

The temporal aspects of how increasingly laws have been created in attempts to further clarify right from wrong, do weary me.  So many canon laws, and truly very difficult to enforce them; and more laws created to try to help enforce, only compound the ridiculous aspect of the temporal intrusion and the sadness that we simply cannot live out what God wants and decrees as best.

I return to John of the Cross and others who floated above the temporal, for the most part, although they existed on earth and rode the daily life through to the end.  As for the spiritual life--that is where they floated and kept with God in love and mercy.

The scripture mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, has to do with Jesus' reaction to the flack His disciples received for crushing heads of grain to eat on the sabbath.  They were hungry; they used energy to take action to make the grain edible; and they ate.  Jesus lumped the legalism in with the Temple, for that is where many priests and others had developed increasing amounts of laws prescribing various actions to be taken, of the right and wrong ways of living and thinking.  It became very detailed, and some were so caught up in trying to live the details and also keep track of how others lived or did not live the details of the proscribed laws--well, much judging and such a mess, and far from the loving union with God Himself.

We have Jesus.  We have His teachings and life example.  What is it that we each and all cannot grasp of it, and live it out in daily life?  It does rather come down to each of us as individual souls, for we cannot do much about famous priests and renowned bishops who disagree on what is right and what is wrong, and how to administer sacraments and such, and not even with the oodles of canon laws we have "in the books."

Well, there is something greater that we have, and He is Jesus.  And Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, and He said to love God above all things and others as ourselves, and that He desires mercy more than sacrifice.

This past week the Lord allowed the devil to hit at me hard and repeatedly.  Aspects of the temporal were utilized to try to discourage:  additional pain, incompetence of workers resulting in attempts to overcharge as well as a mortgage company that neglected to pay a large property tax bill, putting the gears of foreclosure into motion.  Then there was fatigue and further financial set backs, and facing the reality that I will not be able to finish and sell anytime soon.

Heat so affects this body of pain and damaged nerves along the spine, so progress is slow; yet there is progress.  And I had also offered as prayer, whatever sufferings for another person who is in a severe setback of the worst rheumatoid arthritis flare of the person's life.  When we offer our sufferings or daily encounters as prayer, we must also be prepared to suffer whatever may come.  And then, of course, we must not resent that we made the offer as prayer for the other!

What ended up being the best antidote was to begin praising God for all the good things that occur. Consider all the times a mortgage company has functioned properly.  Consider all the times that pain was not increased, or how many days of lovely temperatures, or how many people have not taken advantage nor tried to cheat.  Consider that the Lord has a reason for a slower conclusion to this phase of housing and financial insecurity.  

One reason is to increase faith and trust in His Providence.  Another is that perhaps He does not will me to move to where I have been considering might be a practical choice--or that He does not want me to think ahead beyond the present moment, to not make plans or imagine what next.  Or, that He desires me to keep on working slowly, and perhaps not be able to finish, and to experience what it is to totally run out of funds, to have to bail out rapidly.  Or perhaps not, but to continue on slowly and slowly get to a point of patience and trust in Him, and somehow He will keep providing in little ways, along the way of losses.

None of it matters--the reasons.  What matters is to keep going with love and prayerfulness, offering all to God, for God, for His glory.  

Ultimately, it is a time of greater detachment as well as greater faith in He Who Is greater than all else-greater than the "temple", greater than any theologian or priest or bishop or canon laws or civil laws or any one of us or any of our items or careers or illnesses or properties or whatever.

God in Three Persons Is greater than great.  He Is Greatest.

So it is humbling, all this, and to consider that mercy is what He desires--love and mercy, not sacrifice.  Being with Jesus--I love Him.  So tired, but He matters.  As long as I am with Him, knowing He is in me, filling with love and peace and His forgiveness--what can lengthy articles of debate fulfill that steering us to Jesus and Scripture and the ways of the spiritual life could not do so much better and effectively?

I cast my cares upon the Lord.  He instructs my heart.  He fills my soul with His love and mercy.  I go and follow Him--yes, as best I humanly can. But with God, all things are possible, right?  And in God a thousand days can seem as one day or a day can seem as a thousand.  Those going against canon laws and those going with canon laws cannot fulfill a whiff of what Jesus fulfills in our very human and spiritual lives.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Today when the couple brought me Holy Communion, we talked.  They brought mercy, in love, with Jesus.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Living the Vocation

That is what I'm doing, simply, silently, and at the pace God wishes: slowly.

Am very tired out from toe infection.  Trip to ER took care of it, and I'm thankful was on antibiotics when a gum infection came along.  Or so it seemed like the gums as they were fiery with pain.

But later, when a dentist asked if I felt this or that when he prodded a molar, I had to admit to him that after over three decades of constant, rather high-level pain, I have developed the "skill" to mostly distract and place my mind away from pain.  Thus, in situation such as toe infection and now the gum and tooth infection, it is not until the great tidal wave comes crashing on the shores of my body, do I realize something is needing medical attention.

The pain has to be enough, or coupled with such as red-pink streak going up foot from pinkish-red toe, to be enough to bring me back to more physical awareness.  And, perhaps this is true, also, for bringing my mind to more conscious awareness of spiritual readings.  I'm finding my mind is away, possibly close in with God, but I don't know for sure, of course.  It flies from my willed awareness or forced consciousness; the thoughts become whatever God weaves within.

I located a dentist online, whose reviews on a couple sites are excellent.  Turns out not too far to drive, and they got me in within hours of my call.  This impressed after what I went through with local doctor's clinic, calling to request being seen when I saw that I had a toe infection, describing the red going up my foot....  Three days' wait to see a nurse practitioner for an "assessment" was dangerously long, under the circumstances.   I said so, and went to ER.

And how God provides!  At the time I did not know what lurked within a molar.  So having an antibiotic prescribed for the toe that just happens to also be sometimes used for gum infections: providential!  I just about did not go to a dentist as the gums were improving some; yet the pain when I would focus on the physical body, was localizing at the tooth.

Now there will be some costly work needed on that tooth, and in the meantime there may need to be another round of antibiotics, but hopefully the current one will suffice.  The costs are such that someone close mentioned just getting the tooth removed--that old people do that, and poor, also.

So I've been pondering with the Lord, if I am in these categories truly: old and poor.  What comes to mind is the posit of if a hermit with a vow that included the evangelical counsel of poverty, would repair a tooth or have it removed.  It is not so much the money or age, although I admit I do not feel as if I'm at the age of giving up on my otherwise very healthy teeth.

This problem originated two decades ago when a dentist cracked my tooth putting in a filling.  He kept saying nothing was wrong with the tooth, but I continued to know something was not right.  Another dentist immediately found the crack, had to grind the tooth and put on a cap.  Has been great all this time, but a dentist when I made a trek in December, said the cap was loose at edge and saw a bit of decay starting.  He cleaned and filled and sealed the cap.

Unfortunately, he did not get the other side of tooth, some decay, and the capped tooth was like our consciences sealed over sins we are denying; and the more they are kept in the dark and hidden within, the more they grow and fester.

Without the gums being horrifically inflamed and painful, with obvious signals otherwise, I'd not have gone to a dentist.  But the process is good for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit:  Do I have the tooth repaired and use part of the small loan keeping me afloat here until I can finish this place and sell?  Or do I resolve to have the tooth removed, which will be far less costly?

So I weeded some, in the death stench area of strawberry patch, having found but a handful of berries--crop decimated by raccoons this year.  (It had been a blessed income of contributions folks would leave for the berries I'd place on roadside table--kindly, generous folks who could contribute or not, to the little clay pot for whatever produce they'd like.)

In weeding, the meditations run deep, silent and deep, and there is a stillness within that brings clarity.  Some thoughts did surface to the conscience in which I reviewed the reason I ended up in this predicament, financially, to begin with. Then the praises flowed for how challenging and downright difficult it has been to endure in all ways--physically, emotionally, mentally--living in such hardship of rough-living circumstances.  But spiritually--ah!--the ordeal has been exquisite!

There really is no answer yet, from the Lord, as to what to do about the tooth.  If one looks to present moment inner peace, it is to have the tooth repaired, for jaw, alignment, and bite problems can occur from a major tooth removal.  If the money runs out all the sooner--and yes, I may need another shoulder surgery at some point nearing--then I bail out all the sooner. 

What difference does it make?  The dentist is a kindly soul, and knowledgeably skilled.  His office is lovely--so much so that I inquired prior to having the gum infection checked, when I arrived--as to the cost for the visit. It was rather reasonable!  I was expecting exorbitant costs for the loveliness of the office, the beautiful views, the delightfully efficient and kindly employees!

There is an encounter, I sense, to be forthcoming, in this tooth repair process.  We shall see.

I was considering otherwise, in various ways of needing to slow down the work push to finish yet this summer here.  The Lord is prohibiting the progress with the niggling health issues, while at the same time the loan money is slowly ebbing.  He is not seemingly providing for a close-by escape.  More, He wills all is slowed down--the manual labor push on the hermitage, and slower mindset with time to ponder the spiritual aspects.

A hermit would naturally be inclined thus, to ponder in silence, solitude, and slowness, and to work in such manner also--to carry out all interactions with such aspects.  Surely, though I am learning the lesson of too many irons in the fire, and of how simplicity can slip easily away without one realizing it until life has become more temporally complicated.

Living the vocation is the point--as opposed to writing about it.  At this phase, the inner communication and process with the Lord is too rich and evolving to put into words.  Miracles abound in details within and without--within the soul and without in the temporal aspects.

Authenticity is a word, however, that comes to mind as being crucial to living the hermit vocation.  It is a word that only God can judge when it comes to a hermit's living his or her vocation authentically, for authenticity runs deeper and wider into the soul itself.  

We may not even know how to "be" authentic, yet we resonate with the truth in a nutshell:  A soul must be authentic before and within God.