Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learning from Jesus

If one could truly live by but a phrase of Jesus' Living Word, what a holy difference to our souls, to other souls around us, and to life and to the world!

This morning, the nothing Catholic hermit took to heart Jesus' three words:  learn from me.

What and how is it to learn from Jesus?

Listen, ponder, think with the heart.  Wait.  Seek.  Pray.  Praise.  Love.  Most of all, love.

 "‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’" Matthew 11: 28-30
In the recent days, the hermit has lived through additional physical and emotional hardship.  All of us have these phases of "additional" hardships to the daily trials that we all carry when we pick up our crosses daily and follow His Real Presence.
Yesterday, with a desire to do manual labor, much needed always here, instead the hermit remained reclining.  It distracted itself by nothing much holy.  Intellectually it knew that the distractions were nothing more than escapism, taking the mind to lovely scenery, fictional lives of active people, good people, doing good in the world, solving problems.  
It was not terrible escapism, but it did not elevate the soul, particularly.  It "bought" time, perhaps--time that belongs to God and not for us to purchase nor beneficially to take.  Yet, this hermit has learned in this vocation of stricter separation from the world, hidden from the eyes of men, lived assiduously in praise and prayer, the will is not strong enough yet to the discipline of one such as Mary of Egypt.  She was an early century penitent whose conversion led her to the desert where she lived for 30 years in a cave.  Her clothes wore out; her hair grew long and became her bodily covering.  
At year 31 of her solitude, prayer, penance and being blessed by God in spiritual unity on earth, a priest came upon what he thought to be a man.  She explained her life, her conversion, her gender, and she desired Holy Communion.  He went off, determined to return with some clothing.  He could not relocate her and learned she had passed from earth, having edified himself and a handful of others who knew of her existence and life of prayer, humility, and union with God.
While Mary of Egypt made an abrupt change in her life--a life that had known mortal and moral sin, we do not know the trials and the efforts and temptations endured in the process over the years.  We can assume she did not make an immediate leap from one way of existence into the physical desert, and yes, the outer and inner desert of silence, solitude, slowness, simplicity, stillness, stability, suffering, selflessness and serenity.
With that in mind, we may know that to learn from Jesus is a process.  Even if we were to give up our possessions, we would retain enough to survive, especially in our time period of temporal responsibilities, such as paying taxes, having our affairs in order for our death dues, being accessible to others who have need of us in some aspect or other that requires our compassion and selflessness in sacrificing some external aspect of our vocation, for a time.
What this hermit considers today one aspect to learn from Jesus, it is to learn His compassion.  Compassion includes understanding, of placing oneself in another person's body, mind, heart and spirit enough to suffer with, or to share with, that person's "passion."  This passion may be some intense feeling or desire, and can involve some aspect of the person suffering angst or pain.

When a friend emailed frustrations that her cleaning woman has now three times changed the day of her coming to clean her home, the hermit understood the friend's frustration.  It is all relative to the phase and personality and pace of spiritual growth, and the calling and place that we each and all have in our world and our lives.  What frustrates one person could seem superficial to others.  (This hermit's being cold for several days is superficial to the cold that the homeless or many of the world's poor experience.)  

Yet in humility, we can learn from Jesus:  understanding and compassion.  He has compassion for all life and beings, including us!
Learning compassion is part of the good of the little exercise this hermit has developed for itself.  Bend in understanding and to have compassion as to what and why others find 
irritating of this hermit and to try to remove the irritants.  It is just a small aspect of learning from Jesus understanding and compassion, of bearing with and for others.  

What frustrates or irritates others may not be in the full spectrum of life what we consider major; the problems or irritants may seem to us picayune.  However, in understanding and compassion, in learning the "s" of "selflessness", we learn from Jesus to relate and to love; and in that loving we can feel what others are enduring, at their levels and phases of living their lives.
And we learn in the process that Jesus in particular, but also other people, have had understanding and compassion for us in our levels and phases of living our lives.  What seems upsetting or frustrating to us, may be quite minor, if we take a realistic look at our crosses.  We learn from Jesus all about crosses--our own, others, and His--and pray to grow in lessons of understanding and compassion.
We may not learn high degrees or full understanding and compassion immediately.  But we learn, all the same, if even a little.  Any ounce or degree of understanding and compassion are gifts worth appreciating and sharing with others:  silently, humbly, lovingly, not judging their motives or outcomes.
There is an infinity of holiness to learn from Jesus.  Learning compassion is one wondrous lesson and gift.
God bless His Real Presence in us!  Little children, let us love (and have compassion for) one another!

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