What evolves in this consecrated Catholic hermit's vocation is that the hermit thinks less and less about vocation and more and more about being a child of His Real Presence.
There actually are few externals to monitor; God handles all that, naturally. The hermit notices, realizes, and cooperates for there are no options, thankfully. He chooses the pain sieges' timing and duration. He chooses the rare visitor and the rare outing for provisions. He curtails availability of external distractions. He keeps the finances constrained and the life style extremely simple.
What the hermit can choose and can monitor, are the interior aspects--and these are the aspects that any Christian would and could choose and monitor. It is all a matter of degrees in the interior, spiritual life-climb. And the ascent is not consistent for who is perfect who we know, mortal, on this earth? The soul ascends through choices; yet even the semblance of choosing is by and in God's will and allowing. The Holy Spirit teaches and gifts with graces to think, choose, feel, do, and be.
We may pray to always be becoming. To be ascending spiritually, or to be going deeper spiritually, or both in the same motion. All that is for God to figure and ordain; we pray and use our intellects and wills freely given us, and the ascent is paced accordingly to these and some other factors. Too much thought on it, slows the process. Some human choices bring the soul to lesser degrees. Who can be at the pinnacle of spiritual perfection--a glimpse, a foothold, a breath? Then we recede, we drop back some. The view, the footing, the air is too profound for mortals to sustain. It is all to be expected and all right.
Physical pain seems to be this hermit's major hindrance, underlying activity, thoughts, feelings and even impinges upon the will, in the earthly sense. The effect to compare is that of existing in water for lengthier periods of time, holding the breath for longer and longer. Yet we will never become an embryo again in our mothers' wombs, existing without need of earthly air, food, water.
We now have earthly considerations and responsibilities. The most, recently, this hermit has pondered of the hermit vocation is to be in awe of the early eremites--the early desert mothers and fathers and the extreme degrees of solitude and silence in which some of them lived. Some did not see other humans for weeks and months and even years (in a few cases--but so many were not known at all, so how do we know?).
For this hermit, the pain, health, and finances increasingly determine the silence and solitude and slowness. God's Hand is on this life, this existence--once we let go and stop shoving our goals into His Face. We think we do not do this--how rude! But yes, we do it over and over in our lives. We have our ideas and make our plans, praying for guidance from Him but often not waiting for answers. Or, it seems He lets us try out many of our plans and goals in His largesse of kindness. He knows this is partly how we learn, and learn well.
We learn to let go of our plans and goals, sooner or later, and begin to grasp that He all along has been setting out the Plan and the Goal. His Plan and Goal is spiritual growth and union with Him, to remain in His Love, to be a branch on His Vine, to be gift to Jesus and to be gifted of graces by His Real Presence.
It is harrowing (this hermit finds) to be in the more severe pruning phases. It is harrowing to not know from one day to the next, nor to have control over the bodily strength and pain and efforts. The hermit knows not if it can keep on here, if anyone is going to help with the tasks that require another's much stronger hands and back. All this is training grounds for the soul in enduring with increasing, if not total, faith.
Total faith is necessary at some point in our lives, even if that point is in our dying moments.
And while on earth, we are prisoners of our bodily frames, to pain, and to temporal duties and laws. Yet even in prison, God has His Plan and His Goal for each of us, and He monitors and controls the externals when we recognize where we are, and allow some relief in not having to be the driver but rather the passenger. We can relax, look out the window (if our cell has one and if not, and better, look out the window of our soul).
We can sing love and praise songs--even beseeching songs--in our minds and hearts. We can pray silently and praise God, no matter what. We can love His Real Presence and love others. These are within our means, grasp, doing, and being.
A friend from where the hermit used to live is visiting her adult son and family. The friend and son are coming today to the hermitage to help the hermit in whatever physical ways the hermit would appreciate. It is an unexpected gift yet why should it be? The hermit had asked the Lord at some point a week ago to please send some human help!
However, the hermit felt a bit guilty regarding the Lord sending this friend who has come from afar to spend a week with the son and his family. Still, the friend insists, and wants to visit the hermit and help for a few hours. The efforts will be gentle and simple, not a push nor rush. The love and the conversation of three Christians together and the two's generous gift of time, effort, cost, and presence to make the added trip to this place of exile, is glorious, truly.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Let us love one another as He loves us! Remain in His Love! How hard is that? An irony, for remaining in His love from our human thought and willful control is not easy because enduring in total faith is an evolving, self-emptying process.
So we see, dear readers, that when we enter the interior landscape of the soul and the soul's love of and seeking His Real Presence and His Love, regardless our various, holy, temporal vocations-- spiritually God-consecrated that they all are--the Plan and the Goal belong to His Real Presence. His pathways lead each soul toward the common pinnacle: loving union in Him.