"If we love one another, God remains in us
and His love is brought to perfection in us."
--1 John 4:12
This Scripture is the antiphon to today's Sunday Mass Gospel reading. It stood out to this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit because of the deep aspect of falling in love.
Yesterday, the family came from civilization to help the hermit make some progress on aspects of the work around here requiring some assistance. The son-in-law worked on the lawn mower. (He serviced all but cleaning the carburetor but still won't start--but getting down to what is most likely the problem: a dirty carburetor. The daughter helped paint the porch ceiling, thus saving the hermit's right shoulder (two scars and lots of painting still to go). The grandson picked mini pumpkins and other squash and set up the stand at roadside. We got lots of other tasks accomplished, as well.
An exciting element in all this is that they brought their new dog, Johnny Be Good--"Johnny" for short. He is a Miniature Bull Terrier, a show dog, one year old, that the breeder discounted because she decided not to use him for breeding. He is cute, unusually mellow, and sweet as a lamb. In fact, the shape of his head is like that of a lamb's head. The hermit declared, "I'm in love with Johnny!" We all laughed at that, as of course being in love with a dog--being a hermit avowed to poverty, obedience and celibacy and being an old hermit, at that--was meant to be silly yet to express how much the hermit was pleased that this family now have such a loving and dear pet. (Their cat died recently at age two--blood clots! The cat and the grandson were best of buddies. Thus, now Johnny is his pal.)
Regardless this aside, there was much love in abundance yesterday among all of us, as well as one of God's darling creatures. And today, all afternoon, while out picking strawberries and ridding out the rotten berries and weeding, thoughts of what Jesus said in the night kept revealing more insights. It comes down to love, of course. What do we love? Do we love the spiritual more than the material, the things of God more than the things of earth (as Hebrews 13:1 expresses we ought)?
Who and what has this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit been looking at lately? Well, it has looked at a political candidate with leadership gifts yet a variety of traits, and it has learned much from this person's affect and ways of successfully navigating "the world". The hermit has applied much of what it has observed to aspects of how the hermit might more successfully navigate the spiritual life. And there is nothing bad about taking aspects of the temporal to help us learn and apply to better focus on the spiritual. However, it was time to stop looking at that temporal example.
"Look at ME," Jesus said in the night. It was a simple command. And while plucking berries and weeding, various ways of looking at Him came to mind. The hermit was tempted to focus on looking at Jesus on the cross. But then it realized in the Order of the Present Moment, the hermit was looking at beautiful strawberries, green leaves, runners going everywhere promising more plants, more berries--the fruit of His earth. So the hermit was looking at Him in the berries, in the weeds, in the soil, in the sun beaming, in the warmth, in the tremendous peacefulness of Sabbath Rest.
Then the hermit had an insight regarding how God leads us in ways that confound us, but that in looking at Jesus, all of a sudden the hermit saw how Jesus walked on earth in ways that confounded those around Him, particularly the Pharisees, Sadducees, and high priests. At first he even irked John the Baptist's disciples, until John wisely sent a couple to ask Jesus Who He Is.
Then the hermit thought of the tremendous love of Christ and His Church that is deep within this hermit's body, mind, heart and soul. And it considered the love of God toward this hermit and toward each of us who follow Him, who love Him, in guiding us--if we desire and allow--in all possible ways of looking at Him. We must step forth in utter faith, hope, and love for Christ and in trusting assurance that His love will carry us where He has promised.
Then the hermit remembered its angel telling it several years ago, he was taking the hermit to the stairway to heaven. Of course, the hermit tried to figure out various mystical aspects and tried to find answers in various temporal situations and experiences. The hermit had succumbed to thinking with its head, not with its heart! There would be no temporal equivalents or explanations for something as mystical and spiritual as the stairway to heaven. While there were clues, such as the ecstasies beginning during Mass, there really is no way to describe or to fathom from a temporal standpoint, the stairway to heaven.
It is a process and a mystery, and it has to do with love, for when the Bishop asked the hermit to ask Jesus why He was doing this, Jesus answered back from within the ecstasy: This is how I am loving you. Even that answer is not concrete, not temporal, not something one can grab hold and take a juicy bite, as in a just-picked strawberry.
Amidst these thoughts and others deep within and not to be recalled or written here, the hermit had a sense of this blog, and that there was surely flack to be had out in the blogosphere. There is no way to know for sure other than checking, but the hermit does not read this other person's writings. And when friends had mentioned, in the past, the slander and libel, they also advised: "Don't even look! It is horrible! Who would ever want to read through all of that hate, envy--whatever!"
One friend said the one who tends to come obsessed is on a power trip. That friend observed that whenever this totally nothing consecrated Catholic hermit writes anything--particularly involving the spiritual realm or also of earthly experiences involving the interaction between the temporal Church and the spiritual Body of Christ--this other hermit blogger reacts stridently and in a flurry of opinions, pronouncements, and judgments.
Another advised that anyone reading all that would know immediately there was envy involved, insecurity, and resentment of another Catholic hermit writing fairly consistently online. Yet another said the other was just plain "crazy." The various friends agreed to not ever look again and again told the hermit to never look again, as well, at this other hermit's reactionary writings. And for a very long time, the hermit has not; and the hermit will not, ever.
There is no need, no point. However, the hermit has defended this other blogger--a Catholic hermit also in the consecrated life of the Church. No, the other hermit is not crazy; instead the person is very intelligent. No, the other hermit is probably not envious; rather there is perhaps a deeply-held conviction that this other must defend the Church against, somehow, what that person does not grasp in essence and freedom about the nothing Catholic hermit. The other blogging hermit may think and perceive more linearly, methodically, and with more need of temporal structure. After all, hermits vary; each is unique in what is a most unique and individualized vocation.
These two consecrated Catholic hermits are different persons with differing ways of experiencing and perceiving. On "the other side", in eternity and heaven, the other will not hold such angst or disapproval of the nothing consecrated Catholic hermit. So why dwell on it in this brief, temporal pilgrimage? All that the flack represents should be as a means of challenge to rise above, to move beyond negativity and into Jesus' love.
As for power trip, what kind of power is there to be had over this-here nothing consecrated Catholic hermit who currently has an awful sinus infection, is in over its head with manual labor, and has tried to shove open all kinds of doors that don't open. It has rebelled by being distracted...by looking at other than Jesus. It has ignored various, direct messages from God--sometimes given through supernatural means but mostly temporal means--only to keep being redirected. It must detach from temporal convention; it must keep swimming out into the deep.
Regardless, this afternoon the thoughts in prayer turned to this other hermit out there in the blogosphere. While not knowing tangibly, for sure, the nothing consecrated Catholic hermit truly senses there is much internet flurry going on. In the past, the other hermit's flurry of upset would occur especially when the nothing consecrated Catholic hermit shared more intimately of the spiritual and of the temporal struggles--both. It seemed to be difficult for the other to simply accept that Catholic Hermit's blog merely chronicles the spiritual progression regardless of the unknowns, the successes, or the re-routing if His Real Presence needs to guide the hermit this way or that.
So while finishing up the strawberry picking and the weeding amidst the thriving plants, the whole aspect of love came to the fore. Does this hermit love that other hermit who, at least in the past, has done all possible, it would seem, to angrily discredit and disparage, to analyze and diagnose, and to judge with seeming authority? And unless the other has passed on from this earthly life, most likely the same flurry of words is occurring, perhaps in this present moment!
Then came the thought of that Psalm--is it 52 or 55?--in which the Psalmist is stunned that its enemy and detractor is one who shares the same faith, the same sanctuary--is a fellow worshipper of God. But is there deep and genuine love for this other hermit who, with some followers, has not been able to simply let this nothing Catholic hermit live its spiritual journey and quite candidly blog-share its spiritual life with great doses of temporal examples of this or that?
The answer is most definitely "Yes." It loves this other, no matter what could be stormy attacks in cyberspace right now. For just as the Living Word breathes Christ in us, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit can bring an image to mind of the other consecrated Catholic hermit and see in that other as if quite truly looking at Jesus.
Increasingly so, there will be in each aspect of life, the active and visible mystery of seeing in all: Him. This will be so--looking at Him, seeing Him everywhere and in all souls and things--in all of this life, henceforth.
Painting way high on a ladder and in the stillness of night, in the praying the Scriptures and in making spiritual holy Communions (and spiritual confessions as it did the other afternoon when up on the porch roof, praying not to slide off while installing the last of the siding)--all is looking at Him, seeing Him in all. This may be so, whether thinking of people whom we irritate or darling dogs or strawberries or in friends--such as the dear couple--friends from afar and the past who are coming a great distance and will visit here on Tuesday!
When Jesus imports in audible voice, "Look at Me," there is much to discover in what we see. If we see Him in all, and love all that is seen (and unseen) of the Lord, then He remains in us and His love is brought to perfection in us....
Here's looking at you, Jesus!
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another--let us look at Him for He Is Love!