After another pain siege and being on the mattress on the floor for a couple or three days, am finally up and kind of moving about. Got up on porch roof to caulk and paint the trim its first coat of Simply White. Love to choose paint with names that go along with the whole realm of God's goodness and spiritual reminders. It was a tough call, as Dove White also had appeal.
With a grinding headache and low back that is not quite up to a courageous level of pain endurance, could not drive the distance and then sit through Mass. Will see how the pain level is in the morning. Standing on the porch roof is actually far less pain-inducing than sitting.
But the pain siege and some other incidents have reminded this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit to write about setting boundaries. Hermits need to set boundaries commensurate with the vocation, and at least in cohesion with one's individualized rule of life and the profession of vows, plus the statements under Consecrated Life of the Church specifically for the Eremitic Vocation.
There had been a woman who came frequently, hollering the hermit's name and wandering around the exterior of the hermitage. At first the hermit met the woman as she stopped to get some vegetables at the table out by the road. So the hermit had a brief conversation with the woman and detected the woman seemed rather needy in some ways, but that can be fine. We all have our needs. However, the woman began showing up daily. Even when the gate was shut, she'd stand out there hollering at the top of her lungs for the hermit.
At first the hermit went out and explained to the woman that it was becoming too frequent, and the hermit needed quiet and time to work and to pray--quiet for pain management, in particular, and private time. So it was suggested she perhaps stop by once every three weeks or so, or even once a month. (This was after in conversation it was ascertained the woman was not interested in spiritual conversation but what one could term "chit chat." So, it was settled.
But the next day, the woman returned and remained outside the gate, hollering and hollering. This pattern continued, and the hermit decided it fully grasped what St. Seraphim the Sarov and St. Godric of Finchale meant by hiding from those who kept coming seeking them out. Since resting on the mattress, the hermit decided to not go out and chit chat. Surely she would grasp that once every three weeks or so, meant just that.
No, that was not what the woman grasped. The day she tried to open the door to come inside and then stayed outside, circling the hermitage, was the day the hermit decided it would need to be more firm and deal with what was becoming a problem with a person who was obviously exhibiting some unusual behavior, outside the norm of etiquette.
The next time the hermit set out the vegetables, toward the end of the day, the woman caught glimpse of the hermit and began hollering for attention. The hermit had another conversation with the woman and said again, that this was not what was meant by a visit now and then or once a month, and that the hermit really could not chit chat daily. So, the hermit expressed that the friendship will need to be one of prayer, one for each other, and leave it at that. The amount of work load here was emphasized with a sweep of the arm and a brief listing of tasks, and daily interruptions unless there was some spiritual purpose or need, could not be entertained.
The hermit also wired shut the gate up high, to maintain the privacy needed not only for prayer and quiet, but for the rest periods throughout the day this hermit needs in management of the severe, physical pain. All this had been explained to the woman, but it was clear she could not accept the boundaries at first. So they had to be set firmly in place along with, for awhile, the gate impenetrable.
But such situations can be rather rare, it seems. However, a hermit must be prepared for incidental situations that arise, if they become pesky or inopportune for either party involved. The hermit had prayed about the woman when the visits became daily, and it discerned that it was not equipped at this time to take on someone needing emotional or psychological assistance daily or even weekly. Sometimes we have to know our limitations in all aspects.
Mostly, though, we have to know what we can handle within our daily lives, juxtaposed with our vocation, and what the major tenets are. And some of the boundaries we must set really have very little to do with the external interruptions, or those this hermit terms as "human poltergeists"--nice enough people but determined in being time-usurpers and psychological distractions. Perhaps most of the boundaries have little to do with the external incidentals. They have to do with our interior distractions.
So it is, that this Catholic hermit is having to set boundaries regarding some internal issues and distractions--those which the hermit and God know about, and a couple of spiritual friends with whom the hermit corresponds now and then. The hermit has relaxed some boundaries such as interaction via computer with political news. While good for praying for our country and those running for office and in office, the time that can be consumed and the distraction it can become which takes thoughts away from other intentions, sneaks up on the soul. So the Catholic hermit is working on setting some boundaries in this category.
When interior boundaries are broached--those that are subtle yet known between the hermit and God--vices begin to signal that something is wrong. Anger simmers as the world is frustrating. Frustrations volley the "ball" back to anger. Before long, the soul has lost the set, then the match, and the game ends in a feeling of defeat. How does God feel with a soul such as this? The temporal world, such as of news or other aspects, will only bring the temporal with it. The temporal is so far out of bounds (and should be outside our boundaries as hermits, only to be broached carefully in prayerful consideration much as a spectator viewing without emotional attachment), that it will always elicit frustration.
Yet another boundary being set more firmly is deep within, and that is in some spiritual weaknesses that are starting to swell and erupt like a bug bite that itches and gets scratched until it is raw and seeping. These have to do with some virtues that have been bitten by the vice-fleas. A major type of vice flea doing the biting currently is that of acedia, or spiritual sloth and ennui. So the hermit is wiring the fence shut, so to speak on that vice and is making greater effort to combat the excuses that creep in, encouraging the hermit to short-change the spiritual reading or the time spent listening to and sensing His Real Presence within the body, mind, heart and soul.
Anyway, hermits do need to set some boundaries, and these boundaries will vary depending upon the ebb and flow of hermit daily life--the external and internal aspects of the temporal and the spiritual details, moment by moment, hour by hour. Otherwise, soon enough, the hermit is no longer on a narrow path but skipping through a wide-open field, coming up with grand-sounding excuses as to why this friendship, or why that, or rationalizing that something is spiritually connected or necessary when it is not at all in reality.
Time belongs to God, and a hermit (or anyone who is following Christ and desiring union with Him) ought learn to set boundaries as to how His time is utilized, day and night, for His glory and for the spiritual progress of the hermit, as well. His glory being satisfied will also, then, satisfy the needs of others.
God bless His Real Presence in us!