Today marks seven weeks since the death of this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit's will. It is one of the many spiritual experiences that a soul never forgets.
In recap, the death of our wills comes as a result of praying for such. We may not even realize we are asking the Lord to take our wills and replace them with His will. But we do so every time we pray the Lord's Prayer, or we ask Him to do His will in us, or we read His Living Word and consider that we'd like to follow Him, be in union with Him, be in Heaven with Him for all eternity.
In order for God's will to be done in us on earth as it is in Heaven, our will must die. Yes, it must die just as Jesus explained the seed must fall to the ground, be crushed and die in order for new life to occur. In order for us to have union with God, fully, all aspects of our free wills, of our everything, must be replaced by all that is God.
This is the summation of our divine desires, whether or not we consciously consider them, or pray for them now or in the past, or have known of such possibility and desire. Judgment will bring the desire for Divine Union to the fore. We will know and have opportunity to desire or not, union with God for eternity.
In our lives, then, the process of dying to our own wills can begin early on. For most souls, it seems the process is gradual, nearly imperceptible other than those key moments and phases in which suffering brings lessons of death in ways that allow our wills to die to self in bits and pieces, and sometimes in larger chunks.
So it was that seven weeks ago, following three months of intense physical suffering as well as emotional deaths, this hermit's will died.
I did not realize that was what was occurring. I chalked it off to severe and prolonged physical pain, or to a rough patch with family members and adaptation to loss therein. Yet neither the physical pain (which has been my constant companion to varying intensities for nearly 32 years) nor the obviously God-willed job change and move of family were that unusual or different to cause such a death within--a death that has never been experienced to this degree.
When I realized that Wednesday morning after Easter that I no longer had the will to do, think--to be--anything and made not by my will a single phone call to someone I'd not spoken with in a couple of years and had not seen for 26 years, the effect was nil. I then, not by my will but some force other, got off the mattress, walked outside, and started weeding--the first physical action possible as the bodily pain had been unusually severe. As soon as I pulled a couple weeds, God spoke.
"Your will has died."
With that Word, insights tumbled into thoughts, and I recognized the weight of death lifting, the emptiness of nothingness being dispelled. I was reminded of the physical death experience years ago in a hospital recovery room. What did I think death would be? It is so easy! There is so much pain, and then no pain--just joy, laughter! All emotions and thoughts, memory, understanding, intellect--all goes with us, leaving the heavy-laden, suffering body behind.
So it was with the death of my will. What did I think it would be--as if fairy dust sprinkled on me some night, and I'd awaken in the morning without my will and God's Will instead? I laughed with this thought; of course, the death of the will would be like the death of our bodies--more gradual usually, bit by bit dying, and also some time of intense suffering until death comes as a relief after we have reached a point in which we desire the relief of what had become seemingly endless agony.
Relief! And over the past seven weeks since the death of my will, I have noticed the effects. I guess I had not expected any effects since I've not had such a major death of will. (My will had died in little bits, now and then, imperceptibly so other than a few bigger chunks lopped off from time to time. And even now, I do not know for sure that all of my will has died; but I figure it to be thus. The Lord did say, "Your will has died." Unless He knew I could not handle if there was yet more will to die, I will take Him at His Word.)
The effects of death of the will, from what I know of personal experience, seem to thus far be a total change in how I react. I no longer react the way I used to react--the way I reacted to persons, thoughts, words, situations all my life--up to the death of my will. I was going to write of the effects with specific examples within the first week or so; but then I decided to wait longer. What if this reflected a temporary effect?
I suppose it still could be, as seven weeks is not long--yet long enough for plenty of situations to occur of substantive crisis to test my reactions. And in each incident, each situation, I simply do not react as I used to react. There is not the stress nor strain, there is not the fear or tears, there is not the worry of unknowns.
A long-time friend emailed that it was probably just detachment. No, it is different from detachment, for there is sense perception, emotion, thoughts, imagination, memory, understanding, and intellect. None of these are dulled or nulled; yet they are different, they react differently. It is not my will, that I can tell you. My will is not like this will that reacts now with equanimity of spirit, with faith, with hope, with love, with freedom and truth. This will reacts even with laughter--not warped or inappropriate laughter, but with laughter that is sensible, solid laughter mostly without sound emitted.
I suppose we might call it joy.
But it is not always "happy" joy. The effect of death of my will is that of a serenity in all things. I am reminded that "serenity" is the 9th "S" of the platform of my rule of life--the rule of life that is the perfect rule of life for all of us: The Gospel Rule. (Earlier on in my hermit vocation I mistook the 9 S's as being the rule of my hermit life until the Holy Spirit showed me that the Gospel Rule is indeed the perfect rule, the only rule worthy of total adherence, and the 9 S', though, making up a means or platform by which to consider living the Gospel Rule of Life.)
So, the death of my will and it's being replaced by God's will has totally altered the way I react to anything from what would be serious upsets and misunderstandings to slipping and sliding on the pole barn roof yesterday--not once but twice, and a third time one foot sliding out from under causing a full front-to-back splits. (Am on the mattress today, fairly banged up!) Other examples of altered reaction--replaced reaction--include no concern at all with what could be dire financial news or the near-miss hospitalization form sepsis poisoning, or simply how the major, overwhelming work load in this hermitage used to affect me.
I can even try to consider relationships of the past--memories that used to bring tears and regrets. The emotions and thoughts can still dip into the past, but there is nothing but serenity, equanimity of spirit, peace, lots of understanding. God's will remains simply in the present moment yet with faith and hope and love for what is ahead...without going very far ahead.
The only time there has been weeping came in a phone call one morning when the physical pain was at high level; tears flow when the pain is at high tide.
Another effect of the death and replacement of my will with God's Will, has been the insights that have come increasingly ever since that Wednesday morning after Easter. It seemed at first to be during times of manual labor when the mind would be "away" from the physical pain of body more easily. Insights would come--thoughts of someone who I'd find out later had been thinking of me at the same time, those who I'd not had contact with for months or years. Insights would come regarding some message or good to relate or offer someone, or also very much insights for my own good and spiritual growth.
Perhaps as a "type" of insight, bi-locating incidents began to occur with more frequency and ease, yet still totally unexpected, unasked for, and still nothing that I consider from my own old will that would be particularly necessary or desirable. (I've had bi-location experiences off and on for decades, but only came to grasp what it was after I converted to Catholicism and became familiar with the term and of others describing or having their bi-location experiences described in books.)
But with God's will having replaced my will, the bi-locating--still unexpected when it does occur and typically at night when not needing to focus on not falling off a pole barn metal roof!--is productive, purposeful, and simple. It would not matter, even, to mention this aspect other than to note the effect from the death of my will and God's replacing it with His will. (And I will write a bit more on this subject in a later post, as it might be of usefulness to some, as these things are not necessarily unique to just a few but are potential goods for others, to accomplish works of the Spirit, God-willed, of course.)
And yet another effect of the death of my will has been that it is increasingly obvious that my intellect is still very much in me, in rather primary position to the now-His-will in my soul. And my intellect continues to get in the way, at times, of His will. (Here, again, in the night when my intellect is more at rest, His will can utilize my soul to be taken in Spirit on assignments to help others, according to His will.)
My intellect, thus, impedes His will in some instances, or does not "read" situations accurately for my intellect--my ideas, thoughts, mind--can confuse His insights with my ideas, and my ideas as being His insights. So I have started to pray earnestly and with great faith that God take my intellect, have it die, and replace it with His Mind, His Thoughts only, His Ideas, His Insights. All God's--that is what the intellect can be--and eventually must be if Divine Union is ever to occur.
Purgatory is part of that process, but why not avail ourselves of it yet in this life? Since the death of my will, I now am aware of how cumbersome are my thoughts and ideas, is my own intellect, how impatient and also mistaken can be my thoughts. Increasingly I am learning to discern and differentiate what are His Insights and what are my ideas and thoughts. That is a start, at least.
I do trial and error sometimes. For example, if I get an idea of something that comes to mind, and it might be for someone other, I will go ahead and share the idea. It can come down to subtle discernment and paying attention to little mental nudges. One morning my quite elderly aunt came to mind. The thought was to call her. Then popped in the thought of some Manuka honey that someone other had emailed me about a few days earlier. Now, why did that unusual type of honey come to mind upon the heels of the nudge to call my aunt? Was it that the Manuka honey might help her digestive ailments and overall energy, as she has been ailing for awhile now?
I called the aunt and in conversation mentioned I would like to send her a small jar of this special honey made by bees in New Zealand. While on the phone, I looked on my laptop and read off to her the benefits that are found in test studies. Among other good effects, it helps digestive tract balance and over all energy, plus helps build immunity to bacteria and viruses. She was interested in trying the honey and will report back if it helps her or not. Now, I did not mention that I am testing out for myself if this is an insight from God's Mind through His will in me, or if it was some thought from my own intellect. Before long, there may be an answer for both of us.
Another insight came while weeding, and it seemed profoundly an insight, for the message was strong and powerful in ways good for the soul. It had to do with a cousin and her mother. I did not want to share the insight right away mainly because my own intellect knew that my cousin might not like hearing the insight. Yet the insight stayed with me in my mind. I since know this to be an insight from God's Mind as it did stay with me, and eventually my cousin called to chat.
So I told her of the insight, and she seemed to listen that day, although there was some rebuttal. Yet it did seem to hit home. And, this effect was as similar insights from God have had in the past: I felt totally freed once I told her the insight, the message. But the next day the cousin called back. She was at that point rejecting the insight. So I wondered again, with my own intellect, if this was an insight from God's Mind or just some idea that I had in my intellect, my mind?
But no, it came again that this was an insight from God's Mind. I was quickly able to benefit by it myself, for the good of my own soul with great effect.
I do plan to also write about the particular insight the Lord's Mind gave, that so cooperated with His will that is in me, on a future blog post. But for this post, I wanted to re-summarize the actual event of the death of the will and then also give the three or so effects thus far, that the death of the will has caused in my reactions and daily life. And also how the death of the will then leads to the desire and need for our intellects to die and be replaced with God's Intellect, with His Mind, His Insights, etc.
I also desire to share an incident in which I had what I thought to be an insight from God regarding a friend and her husband, particularly for the husband who has been suffering for a long time with serious health issues, and his spirit lately has wavered and weakened into despair. This incident for a future post demonstrates how sharing with them the death of the will affected his life with an effect that occurred shortly after he asked the Lord a key question about his will.
More later, dear readers. This body-bruised old hermit is going to rise and try to dress, and do some little manual labor task around the hermitage. Praise God in all things. Praising God is of God's will, with all praise redounding to His glory, in His Trinity.
[Yes, it was easy to praise God when the feet were able to stop the body slide two feet from the edge of the pole barn roof. Praise God that my "habit" worn yesterday (work jeans--the habit is what one wears in the Order of the Present Moment) have paint all down one side as a reminder of the slip-n-slide on wet paint, up on the roof! And this old world wasn't even getting me down.... I was going to post Carole King's hit record, "Up on the Roof," but the lyrics really did not seem too easily woven into the theme.]
God bless His Real Presence in us! His Will in me! His Mind increasingly in me! And I pray this for all of us to have HIs Will, His Mind, His All in us in all real ways. Remain in His Love! Love one another as His Real Presence loves us!