The soul breathes and exists in increments of depth.
It is quite something to adapt more and more to deeper conversion of mind, heart and spirit within one's vocation, no matter what category of calling. His Real Presence calls each soul to some vocation or dual vocations, or shifts vocations--adding or deleting or adapting one to another--in the progression of our earthly journeys.
Each stroke out into the deeper waters requires more faith as we progress into the unknown; and it takes a bit of earth time to grasp and adapt.
Today was one such day. Not only is there prayer for more graces to be a happy, positive, inside-out-joyful Catholic hermit and child of God in earthly pain management, the graces are asked also for more obedience and submission to whatever is God's will in any given present moment.
While covering 96 St. Bernard Love of God Bourbon Balls in gold, candy foil wrap, the prayers include the marvel at what a relief in so many ways (yet still a jolt in the shift) to recognize and accept: this hermit, and probably most hermits, are not well-suited nor intended for parish interaction and acceptance. In biographies of saintly Church hermits that this hermit has read over the past fourteen years, none come to mind who interacted as parishioners.
Why should this have been a surprise in this "nothing" Catholic hermit's life? Why the 14 years or more of not recognizing this reality, and rather, pushing on parish doors that were not opening?
Some of the situations one could not begin to invent. Recently, when needing help from any strong man for an hour or two for the task removing some tight cabinet screws and drilling them back in, the local parish's St. Vincent de Paul leader did not even respond in email or phone to the plea for help. A year ago, the priest said there was no one he could think of to help carry in six 4x8' pieces of plywood. Even in the details, the Lord has not allowed parish interaction with minimal, manual assistance.
But now, the load is laid to rest; the time of adaptation is blessed. Various aspects of this hermit's daily life need some adjustment and greater commitment. There has been a leaching back into the world--or maybe treading water--perhaps the result of relocating and resettling. All the ups and downs and physical hardships have been difficult on the body and emotions.
A set horarium (hourly schedule) has flown the scene, for the most part. Not having daily Mass has thrown off that spiritually tangible start of the day. (It is not as if the historical hermits of the Church celebrated or participated in daily Mass, for many or most did not. No church nearby, most were not priests, and some were women eremitics.) Now, it is all the more Order of the Present Moment, and must exist solely and soulfully in His Real Presence for whatever is to be, within and without.
The skies finally released some rain in this desert. Now the gardens beg care. But the bourbon ball order arrived; with income needed all the more now, the present moment requires obedience to whatever seeds God sows into each day. (Today it is packaging the little love balls and resting this mortal body so as to manage physical pain.)
All events and situations in our lives are gifts from His Real Presence. This is another reality that can be too easily ignored in the distractions. Somehow, in all various ways, "nothing Catholic hermit" has lapsed in spiritual discipline.
Energy spent in doubting one's vocation or in thinking it is not meant to be so challenging, is energy that now can be redirected. Ask afresh: What does His Real Presence will-- daily, nightly, hourly, moment-by-moment? And then strive to answer Him without fretting if much tangible is not accomplished. Practice listening to Him; desire His will; then desire and attempt obedience.
Perhaps desire and attempt are more the point and please God than what is accomplished in actions: spiritual reading, formal praying, manual outcomes in the temporal surroundings. Even a smidgeon of effort expended in practicing listening and attempting obedience to God's will, this is positive energy of soul.
Distance swimming, particularly in uncharted waters and with no notion of depth, takes much endurance and is not considered a win or a loss situation. Why? The spiritual life, vocation, and soul progression are not a competitive race.
The hermit vocation specifically is not a competition with anyone in other walks of life nor with other hermits nor with oneself. The earliest desert hermits also had to guard against wanting to compare themselves to other desert dwellers intent upon seeking and finding God. There is no supreme authority in the hermit vocation (or any vocation) other than His Real Presence.
So we adapt to deeper conversion within a vocation. God adjusts and fine-tunes each soul who has agreed to accept and submit to God's will, despite any agonizing aspects in the process.
(Was it easy for the early desert fathers and mothers to make the transitions from the temporal world and the temporal church to the desert life? And the this could be anywhere of body, mind, heart, soul: removed, stilled, in seeking submission to, obedience in, and union with God. Was it easy for Jesus during His forty days in the desert or in any living out of His earthly teaching, ministry and mission? Did He not weep, show frustration, and agonize at times?)
Hermits (or any souls desirous of God) adapt to deeper conversion into His Real Presence in whatever and however He wills, moment by moment. Each moment flows into the next and the next until we no longer are aware of moments or flow but are aware of His Real Presence. Then, perhaps, we are deep in love. Then, perhaps, love will be the breath of the soul, and each breath will be more and more loving.
Today is a good day: silent, solitary, slow, suffering--not selfless (but not as selfish as yesterday)--simple, still, stable and serene. All moments flow one to another, prayerfully. What the body cannot accomplish physically, the soul breathes of love. When the mind cannot focus much spiritually, the soul yet breathes love.
God bless His Real Presence in us, and may we ever, as little children, love one another!