I'm b-a-a-a-a-ck to the old hermitage after a brief respite in civilization and environmental comfort. My spine feels as if it's been kicked by a horse, though. Sitting is never a positive experience for me, especially not in most seats. Thanks be to God the air flight was not lengthy.
Have the space heater notched up high, have wool knit cap on, layers of clothing under flannel pajamas, under comforter. Cold in night and even now, and even after my return resolve to get into work mode, it is a tremendous challenge to try to get up. The pain level is up, at least--of course, it would be with the autonomic tensing and how the cold affects an arthritic-enhanced spine.
Yet, in all this, during the night when awake for awhile, I heard a voice ask a simple question that stood out from all other mental clutter.
"Are You Praising God?"
No, I was not, had not been. But I will. I will praise God in all things. I will praise God in Himself, for Himself, and for all His Creation.
A woman shuttle driver picked me up at airport for ride to their parking lot a distance away--not far, but far enough to be less costly parking rates. She asked how was my trip. I responded how wonderful to be with loving people and in warmth and comfort and out of my old fixer upper. She asked about it. I mentioned some of the circumstances, to which she was rather enthralled. I stuck with the surface of the situation, but that I was thankful to have a warm few days and hot shower, and break from the hardships.
She needed to know where I was parked in the lot, and I mentioned the burgundy red, used pick-up which I named Precious Blood, for Jesus.
When we found Precious Blood, she refused a tip and said she actually was management just filling in for a driver and gets paid a very nice salary, and that she did not need the money. She also, when we got out of the shuttle, said, "Let's pray right now! Would you mind?" So she proceeded to take my hands in hers and prayed a most beautiful, powerful prayer, beseeching the Lord to help me see this challenging situation through to the end, if it be His will, and she praised God for what she considered to be marvels in what He's had me do thus far, all things considered.
Wonders never cease in other ways. I had a message from the parish administrator, saying they have a couple willing to bring Communion if I'd still like that. I returned call and left the message that it would be wonderful. I will need to call to talk in person to find out more, of course. Yet, I also know that there may be glitches to this offer. I've come to be realistic and to know the devil uses about any means now in my current spiritual life phase, to try to get to me.
The assaults are not ones of the past that were more obvious in a devil-textbook-type way. The evil one and his goons do not try to frighten me in the night, nor wake me up having me paralyzed to better taunt, nor have their been for several years any walls of fire across the foot of my bed, nor other such "phenomenal" type occurrences.
Rather, the devil more tries to work on the mind and emotions, tries to bring chaos and despair, as well as through the everyday encounters and events--mostly regarding the progress in my attempt to finish this old place to a salable point. He also feeds upon the physical pain that is, and stirs the suffering through such as the goofy doctor situation as of late.
So it should be no surprise that when I called the one neighbor who has seemed helpful on infrequent occasion (I know to not impose but rarely even if he has said to call anytime), that the neighbor's reaction was so unexpected that I thought he was joking at first.
I need to get about 15 sheets of 4x8' drywall, and the neighbor's son a three more months ago when we carried in two larger sheets to put on a downstairs' wall suggested he find a friend to help him, and they come and carry the drywall that needs to go upstairs. Well, one thing and another, and he was not available, but some boys from far off who my daughter knew from church when they lived in the area, did drive and carried up that drywall. (Catholic friends from the past found it an irony that youth from the Nazarene Church came a distance to help when Catholics close by are not willing; but that is how it goes, and yes, it is an irony.)
So now I need more drywall and had to wait for decent weather to drive to civilization, get it loaded on truck, and have that occur on a weekend so the neighbor boy and whoever he got to help him, would not be able to do the unloading and taking up to second floor. I'd left it with him that I'd call once we had an ideal weather forecast for a weekend. It has taken a long time.
I called last night, and the dad answered. He has in the past been quite kindly; it is the wife who can be a tough cookie. So I thought the dad was joking when he said he did not say anything at first due to thinking I was a solicitor, and then said he would not at all let his son "solicit" a friend to do work. I explained that his son had the idea awhile ago but that of course, I'd never want to do anything the parents would not approve. (The boys would be paid a generous hourly, and it would take a half hour or so at most.)
The dad was not joking; his stern voice grew into nastily hardened. I could hear him ask his kindly son just who the son had in mind and if he'd known about this to begin with? I could not hear the son's exact response but the voice exchange let me know the son was curdling. Nope, not going to happen. I again emphasized that I'd never have the teen do anything that seemed so wrong to his parents, and the dad said the kids were leaving for a week, anyway. I said I'd hoped they'd have a good trip and wished all well.
Assuredly, the dad remained indignant. I still am not quite sure how wrong or terrible a notion it was that a teen would get a friend to help carry some sheetrock for pay, one time, for an oldster. Yet I am rather sure that the devil delighted in the surprise reaction and how it is going to impact my being able to make progress in here, as well as am not likely to call again, emergency or just a simple need for lifting help. The Lord will provide some other means, surely.
The phone call also included a kind of inane comment about "solicitors" calling from one particular state of the country, and always from that state. At first I thought that was the dad joking about that, too; yet he was not joking. I last lived in that state, and I've never had solicitors call from there. Seems like "solicit" and "solicitors" were the words for the day. If the devil wants me to extrapolate meaning, it is that the neighbor man was suggesting that I am soliciting, as my old phone rings as if from that old area code. The devil knows that I have called upon these people for help rarely, and I have paid or gifted each and every little time.
Anyway, I knew the devil was reacting to the lovely respite for my body, mind, heart, and soul--and also to the incredibly beautiful prayer of the shuttle van driver! And the Holy Spirit instructed my angel in the middle of the night when I was mulling over the various thoughts and trying to manage pain and stay warm both, to appropriately ask me aloud, "Are you praising God?"
So I am! In fact, it seems to me that praising God is surely the antidote to any demonic interference.
Mercy, I need to take another Excedrin in order to tamp down the spinal headache, and then I must rise and put on more layers, and get this body moving about in here. First thing I will sand the drywall areas I mudded a week ago and inspect to see the areas in which another coat or two will be needed for a smooth finish. I'm working on the little laundry area closet. I am interminably slow at all this, these days, this year, but I will praise God, yes.
Praising God is the means of overcoming obstacles and any tricks of the devil. But mostly, praising God is the verbal and mental expression of our love of God in Himself. Perhaps we can consider it akin to the angels' singing praises of love and devotion to God the Most High as they stand before His Throne in Heaven. I will imagine the neighbor man sitting on God's lap, having a wondrous day.
Welcome back, nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, to the Te Deum Hermitage (such as it is and in whatever pain I bear). Praise God!
God bless His Real Presence in us!