The illness that has taken now nearly three weeks' bite out of Lent, continues with progress, albeit quite slow. Yesterday I pushed the body to carefully mark and drill six holes in cabinets in order to install four knobs. The pull which was to affix through holes five and six could not be completed as the screws are too long.
So I had to abort that project until well enough to get to civilization for shorter screws. And it is for the best that I could not continue (although could keep drilling holes), as my body was worn out with that small effort. Back to the mattress!
I received another letter from the spiritual father. It contained this time copies of articles regarding the trends of US bishops and a commentary of the current pope's leadership and focus. This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit prayerfully and dutifully read through the articles, scanning the obvious and repetitive aspects.
In a return correspondence to the spiritual father, I wrote not much of that but more so in reference to a previous letter from him. However, I was reminded in this Lenten illness of at least part of my known mission in life and a significant portion of why the Lord called me to Catholicism for a few years prior to conversion nearly 22 years ago now.
I wrote some of what this Lent is teaching me and the awe and power of God in omnipotence and providence for our very existences of body, mind, heart, and soul. And, I reminded the spiritual father of a major locution early on in my Catholic existence.
One morning in the earliest days and months, I was awakened by a firm and commanding voice declaring: Lo and Behold! By the power of this locution, your sufferings and the sufferings of Holy Mother Church SHALL BE MADE ONE!
I recalled in my letter that I'd asked the parish priest at the time who was acting as my spiritual director, "What does 'Holy Mother Church' mean?" It was a new term to me, a 44-year Protestant despite several years of extensive spiritual reading including Catholic titles. The priest said he did not know....
Later I would learn this was not true; he did know. But it was my spiritual father who I'd visit even then, who told me that it is another term used to depict the Catholic Church as a Mother in reference to the Virgin Mary being considered queen and mother over Christ's Church.
As to the powerful point that my suffering and the suffering of the Church would be made one--that has been another issue altogether, and in time the Lord asked me in various ways if I would agree to the suffering involved. I did agree, and from my heart and also from sufferings, did I agree.
It is an odd thing to explain other than at times I was so upset and disillusioned by some aspects I was discovering of some corruption and sin plaguing some people who we'd not like to think would fall to such, including Church leaders and parish priests. And surprising, even to me, was my innate reaction to offer more and more suffering, as that seemed to be the most anguished and sorrowful offering that had the most power in my otherwise vulnerable life.
Suffering somehow contains much power for it reduces us to our base selves and nothingness. In great suffering we are most aware of God's existence as our all and the source and power of our beingness--in body and soul. God is all in the temporal and the spiritual, in the tangible and mystical of all creation and existence, agelessly, timelessly, and without boundaries of any sort imaginable.
In this Lent of suffering, there have been additional unexpected trials of further financial bad news--and mostly nothing I can do anything about but submit. I have no control over the ways of the medical world and insurers, or of whether or not my disability pensioners are being truthful that they have somehow over paid and thus will now deduct another 5% of what already is a very low income.
And then there was the notice that property taxes are levied an increase of over 9 times, for they said there was a loophole and they had erred in the past two years so were tacking on those years as well as this.
And I recalled last Lent in which I had an unexpectedly high federal tax bill--never anything like it. I then panicked; but this year I have not. I continue to realize this is how Lent is, and that the Lord is allowing me a chance to not react and to recall how horrible was Lent last year but the resurrection of the death of my will in the Octave of Easter brought profound results.
Yesterday, while thinking there was health progress, this morning brought worsening a bit. I had already determined, though, to call Craig at the lumberyard for a pep talk and to ask him to put me on his and his wife's prayer list at their church. I also asked his help to determine the least costly but most lovely solution to finishing off a step up from natural hickory flooring to another level of natural hickory flooring.
He thought my voice sounded dreadful, my lungs not well. I responded that at least now I can speak without lengthy coughing attacks, and that I need to always set out a touchstone of what is forward intent. And, I shared I'd been tricking myself by no longer setting specific goals but rather calling them hopes. But as Scripture tells us: Hope that is seen is no hope at all!
So, I am not going to hold out that kind of hope of seeing myself being able to finish this place yet this summer. God has me hamstrung, so to speak, for now, and I have no idea how much longer although I suspect Easter Resurrection is His answer and plan. I will accept that I must try to endure another fall and winter, despite my finances being dangerously low. But it seems the Lord is asking of me far more faith, perseverance, hard work, patience, and to learn more of hope being sister to faith, and definitely not something that I can see in thought image or express in word.
I rather think that the Lord was speaking directly to this situation when I read the words God spoke to Hosea as proclaimed in this day's Mass.
"I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
'I am like a verdant cypress tree'--
Because of me you bear fruit!"
True it is, Lord God. While Craig had said he hopes the Lord will bring something good for me from all this, I reminded Craig that God sees differently than we see. I might gain much (when lungs and sinuses improved enough to continue manual labor) by keeping going until the dwindling funds are totally gone and then to take what comes. For, if I panic and bail out prior, I will never know. I would be like a pilot who sees the fuel is low but engine still running--who decides to eject and let the plane crash when perhaps he could yet make it to the runway.
However, if my body does give out and no improvement possible, then in another sense, the plane will be on irreversible crash course and the pilot must abort. Even so, one never knows until that moment arrives, as it could be other planes might scramble to assist the plane in need.
I am reminded of this quote I heard recently. "A coward dies a thousand deaths, but the brave dies but once."
I like this very much, for it points to the value in living fully with whatever risks, ventures, inspirations, passions, creative ideas put to practice rather than be fearful and kill each opportunity before it can be born to live or die.
It is truly only because of God that we live and only because of Him do we bear fruit. While that fruit can take various forms, tangible and intangible, it is fruit all the same and not at all what we may think or envision fruit to be.
A verdant cypress tree is God's metaphor for Himself in this instance. I have grown a couple cypress cultivars; they are fast-growing trees. The Hebrew root of the word meaning "hardness". They are evergreen and scented as well as have resin that makes the wood resistant to moisture and disease. Cyprus as trees (there are bush forms) grow tall and strong, are slender and flexible to the winds. As a symbol, they represent God's strength, providence, and immortality of which we can enter in as God's beloved.
Requisite in us for the Lord's providence, always, is His humbling us. Suffering in all its forms humbles efficiently as long as we know with faith and love that the suffering-inducing humbling is God's gift.
Because of God we bear fruit. Always and only because of God do our souls prosper--and that is a type of prospering not necessarily nor usually to do with temporal, tangible gains.
I wonder that loving God with all our strength, minds, hearts and souls and loving others as He loves us is the fruit that prospers most. To love like that would be a God-given grace...only because of God do we be or are of any good.
God bless His Real Presence in us!