There are times like this in one's life, when His Real Presence allows a person, with a soul, to be taken down.
At the time it feels as if a case of total hopelessness, but that is not the case. Rather, it is simply: being taken down. Dropped down in humility, taken down to the raw basics and realities, brought low to the ground or even crushed and allowed to feel broken.
This is necessary in order for germination and new growth.
On such occasions, when one's purpose in life is hard to pinpoint or recall, when the body experiences a certain inertia to rise and do even basic tasks, it is well to ponder deep within and remain in a state of calm rest. It does no good to become despairing. That is not the point of being taken down. The point is to be emptied out of the extraneous and superfluous self-images and righteousness that may have collected over the days, months, or even years in a lifetime.
This hermit has been distracting itself with news videos, it being election day in this country. In between, the hermit prays the Divine Office "hours" and reads the daily Mass Scriptures. Then it considers what is important in life and tries to recall messages from God in various phases of its life. A huge message occurred while in a hospital bed in the family room, a few weeks after the major back surgeries and accompanying death experience.
Dr. H. was visiting, trying to help the then Protestant single-mother, not yet cancelled from her career and hoping to somehow find relief from the horrific, constant pain that was not relieved by surgery. Dr. H. was starting to grasp that this woman in her mid-thirties then, was facing serious pain that was not showing signs of much improvement. One day he gave an assignment. "Take some time to think about, pray about, what is your purpose in life."
The answer came immediately within, but Dr. H. had said to take some time, so the answer was not immediately shared with him. When it was, he seemed rather disappointed. The purpose was not what he had in mind, as he had meant more what is a purpose for the temporal aspect of life.
In other words, he wanted to know: What will you do? How will you move forward and in what career capacity? So when this young, educated, attractive, single woman and mother of three young children answered, "My purpose in life is to glorify God," it took some explaining as to why this is the preeminent, "foolproof" purpose.
Nothing can touch or hinder a purpose such as this. To glorify God can happen no matter what befalls a person, no matter if alive or dead, no matter if alone or with many, no matter if broke or flush with funds, no matter if in this church or that. To glorify God only depends upon the soul whose sole purpose is to glorify God. No one can take it away, ever, unless the person lets go of it.
A cousin just called. The hermit was so thankful. It explained it had thought of calling the cousin so many times in the past few weeks but feared bursting into tears. The cousin wants the hermit to return to the hometown. She said it is nothing but hardship here, and each time there is nothing but more awful catastrophes and bad things that have occurred. She said, "You realize, it is not normal for someone to have so many repeated hardships. Surely God does not mean for you to be there."
Then the hermit spoke of being "taken down" by God: humbled. The cousin said, "You were never proud to begin with. You did not ever think yourself better or that you flaunted living in a decent place, for you always lived in modest circumstances--nothing exclusive."
But the hermit replied that it has been proud. It has not been humble in deeper ways, such as who does it think it is, that it should not suffer and have hardship after hardship, that it should not be taken advantage of repeatedly by people out in the big world? It is not all people, but it is enough of them in strategic aspects. However, the hermit has seen how it has forgotten that there is no reason why it should be spared.
Then the hermit told the cousin about Horatio Spafford, as she recognized the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul." And the hermit was able to state that it is not only Catholics who persecute their own, for the Spaffords were Presbyterians. So the cousin asked why would God want such hardships? Wouldn't God want this hermit to have a decent place to live and not hard work and discomfort and trials one after another?
Well, why not? Why should this hermit be spared? Repeatedly in Scriptures we read of the narrow way, the narrow gate, to pick up our crosses daily. For those to whom much is given, much is expected. This hermit has been given marvelous spiritual gifts, and with that comes training, and training can be rigorous.
For one thing, the hermit shared with the cousin that unpacking dishes and pans means nothing now. (And the sink is not plumbed, anyway.) But the stove could be used, but it is meaningless. The hermit is used to three saucers, a bowl, a cup, a couple plastic spoons, a sharp knife, a microwave and small fridge. Perhaps at some point the new refrigerator will be pulled out and shimmed to level it, and the pantry cabinet pulled out beside it and shimmed and bolted. But that will take someone else to help, and none of it matters, ultimate. None of these living conditions really matter, ultimately.
Perhaps today the hermit is best off in bed, or maybe to get up and put in three more panels of insulation. (Each takes a lot of fitting, cutting and placing between uneven studs.) The bulk of the day is needed to absorb God's taking the hermit down. Down, down, down--deep into it's inner recesses of soul and clearing away the rat nests and cobwebs of residual debris that smells and creates obstacles against proper insulation from the outer detritus of the world and all its "things."
Today is the day to recall the hermit's purpose--then when young and with hopes of a career and less painful life ahead...yet not to be. That life never happened and never will. God did not ordain physical health, remarriage, tangible wealth, or ease of life circumstances--not with a neighbor, not with adult children, not with an abode, not with a parish (at least not in this phase).
To glorify God necessitates being taken down now and then, and each time, to be taken more down. More down, down, down, into the ground; and there, to be emptied out by being crushed. There is glory in that because it is as God Himself did with His Son, Jesus Christ.
We need our time periods in the Garden of Gethsemane and then our trial before our critical peers, and judgment by those who do not grasp, and then our humiliating parade through circumstances that read "failure" to those watching, and then our seemingly, nearly abandonment in crucifixion.
But this hermit's cousin came to the foot of its cross today, and her presence made all the difference. Her compassion, her sharing of some trials with her own adult children, her listening to the possibilities as to why God allows such things, her recognizing the hymn--yes, it is well with our souls.
What is best to know even if we don't remember while we are being taken down, is that God raises up. It may not be right away, but soon.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another, for love is of GOD! Remain in His LOVE!