Friday, February 10, 2017

Catholic Hermit Shares: Alone Yet Not Alone (Song) Performed by Joni Eareckson Tada

Over four decades ago, in the first or second year of this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit's short-lived earthly marriage, one summer I read the autobiography of Joni Eareckson Tada.  The book consumed me, or I was consumed into it.  At the time, the book covered the diving accident and subsequent trial of a young woman's altered life as a result of paralysis.

She turned to God in deep and abiding ways.

Little did I know then that my life was within ten years going to be turned upside-down by an accident.  While not paralyzed physically, my life would be paralyzed forever on earth by intractable pain and suffering.  All temporal aspects of my existence changed with major life losses of marriage, career, job, health insurance, income, and any form of daily consistency.

What remained constant was my love of God and love of family, particularly the three children the Lord blessed me to continue to rear, albeit quite imperfectly and inconsistently for their young, innocent lives.  And much later, the Lord would lead me into the Roman Catholic Church in addition to ongoing hardships which all the more hone the human body, mind, heart and spirit through suffering yet toward increasing reality that God loves us and God so loves that we love Him in Himself, simply as Himself as God Is Love.

At the time I read Joni's autobiography, she had no idea what the future would hold.  Her biography brought her to notice publicly which ensued in speaking engagements and her own radio program, and additional book publishing opportunities.  Along the way she met a young man who was hired to assist her; they fell in love, married, and he has remained a constant in her life ever since.

So our lives vary, but the Lord remains constant in His faithfulness and love for us.  He has missions mapped out for us, and much of our lives are spent in seeking the map and then trying to follow the map as best we can.

I'm in one such period of temporal time in which I am having another look at the map while hoping to continue finishing up in this phase and locale.  I've been asking the Lord what is my purpose--and He keeps answering yet again the ultimate truth that it is to love, to love to learn to love.

While my earthly journey includes the rather counter-societal and non-Protestant understood or perhaps acceptable vocation as a hermit, an eremite, a religious solitary, and I am to remain more hidden than not for Jesus once told me that, I remain open to whatever jog in the pathway along the journey in life.

In this current pain siege (of which I suspect the Lord allows in order to turn me in silent suffering and limits my physical capacities for a spell), He has turned me to more simplicity in love and to considering the basics of what can reach into most people's lives which is relating in genuine and, well, relatable ways with humanity.

To this, the other day I was reminded of something a mother of a childhood classmate said to me upon my return to hometown where a judge had allowed relocation to rear my children with the support of loving family and friends of the past made present.  This woman referred to another classmate of her daughter's and mine--a female who became driven to studies and academic achievement to the exclusion of relating with others.

I know this to be true, for the girl so self-driven to academic achievement was an assignment for me.  I had sensed she needed a friend, and later her mother even asked me to do whatever I could to help "Tammy" be included, be less driven to her studies, to want to relate.  I tried but not with much success; yet I had actually wanted to befriend the young woman long before the mother ever asked and had done my best then, too, as well.  I owe my own mother thankfulness for she encouraged me when quite young to play with Tammy, and I always enjoyed doing so.

Unfortunately, I had become an obstacle to the young woman as a threat or block to her goal to have the best grades.  In the end, she did place first in the graduation class; and she went on to college and medical school, and she eventually married a fellow doctor and had children.  It all worked out for her, and I pointed this glorious fact out to the mother of the other classmate who was speaking to me upon my return to the hometown.  Whereas myself was cut down by many aspects of the temporal world--divorced, injured for life, suffering constant physical pain, and also bearing wounds of the heart.

The woman said that everyone recognized that Tammy was driven and pitied her, but that I was the one who had it all--brains, beauty, and personality.  She said "You were and are the genuine and real deal.  You are relatable."

Well, I tend to disagree as the woman did not really know of the mystical inner life going on of which some if not most people tend to have quite a difficult time absorbing let alone relating.   And in temporal terms, "Tammy" has led quite a successful and normal life, after all.  Someone mentioned after a recent class reunion that she looked "GREAT!"  Sadly, so many people made fun of her in high school, perhaps due to her frenetic, self-driven, rather neurotic, isolating existence.

I admire Tammy for focusing on her goal, utilizing studies to the exclusion of others.  It honed her for success through medical school and into a career far from the pettiness and judging of small town classmates and parents.  One thing that I did regret was that she was not interested in further friendship with me because she used me as a point of competition.  That, I am not nor want to be for anyone.

Yet, the Lord is this week reminding me of this snippet of memory, cut in two and pasted together in segments of time, now brought into the present for perusal.  And here is this memory of Joni Eareckson Tada.  I rather think that the Lord prepares us early on in our lives through various means, as a means to undergird us for what is to come in our lives.

My earthly garb remains that of mystic, hermit, parent, soul and suffering servant--but to be relatable all the way in humility and touching the real lives of real people in the real world.  Nothing pretentious, nothing highfalutin.  Just myself as God as unfolded me, and yet I am to write.  I am to write and help others stabilize their emotions through spirituality, in love.  To help others see and be and love God in Himself, to receive and accept His love for us, and to love others as He loves us.

I have no idea how, exactly, but I do think if I live past this phase and am able to move on, I will focus on constructing images and message more than walls, plumbing systems, wood ceilings and tile floors.  Perhaps.  But never alone no matter how alone one might feel along the way, following a map that shows no moving images of what the next destination will be.

Enjoy Joni's song, sung not long ago as an adult.  In the video, her husband, companion, caretaker, stands by her wheelchair.  I had not realized what a beautiful voice of which God gifted her compared to her speaking voice.  Her prayer prior to singing prepared the opening of her lungs to the Holy Spirit's touch!

No comments: