Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paul in Real Life

In keeping with my random/awesome pop song title themes, I thought to title this post 'Promise of a New Day' (that's right, the Paula Abdul hit of the early 90's...YOU ARE WELCOME for that reminder ;) But I wanted to stay focused on Paul...so the Steve Carrell movie reference won out :)

St. Paul has been in full effect these days. The first readings from 2 Corinthians have been typical Paul in that they-are-all-run-on-sentences-and-he-likes-to-say-alot-of-good-things-all-in-one-sentence. And they are often about suffering for the sake of the kingdom, but what's new? That's par for the Pauline course :)

"Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help those who have all kind of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christ's many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in his great help. If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure..." 2 Corinth 1: 3-6

This was Monday's first reading, and the priest at Daily Mass at St. John's called us to reflect on it more when we had time on our own. I found this really helpful, and I will get to why in a minute :)

The dark clouds still seem to be looming around DC and so they seem to be in my spiritual life too. Usually by now, DC is warm and sunny, but we've had the rainiest Spring ever. And so, too, I can't seem to shake the little clouds that have been clouding my brain and heart.

I did have some relief, though, when I traveled to Cincinnati this past weekend for work. I honestly wasn't looking forward to it, but I decided, though, to offer it up to God, because as I mentioned last week, I've finally started to accept this is what He wants, and there is nothing I can do about it! And it turned out to be a rather blessed weekend. It's amazing what God can do when we surrender! There was lots of down time for prayer, and the weather was beautiful! SUNNY. There was WARMTH and LIGHT!

I was there for this training to speak in the Archdiocese [of Cincinnati], and there were lots of sisters and priests there doing the same. There was (of course!) a cute nun in particular-who actually taught at my old elementary school in Ohio- and she still wore her little habit, though her colleagues seemed to opt not to anymore.

I would find her throughout the weekend walking while praying her rosary, or sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Moments like this make me miss the convent. I tell myself, "I like walking with the rosary! I like sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament...why did I leave again?".

And the time I did spend walking and praying this past weekend, did feel like 'old times' with Jesus. I haven't felt as close to Him here in DC since I've returned- there's so much going on all the time. So many distractions. But isn't that how it is on retreats, I suppose? It is much easier to hear and feel Him on retreat...and I had to remind myself in these moments that the convent was NOT just one big retreat! There certainly were more times for prayer, but even there I didn't always feel the 'retreat high' that I was feeling this weekend.

But back to Paul and the rain- I joked today with God if He wanted me to build an ark or something for all this rain we've been having this 'Spring' (if you can call it that!). And then it made me think of God's promises to Noah and the long wait that he and his family had to endure in the Old Testament.

Maybe our lives are paralleling Noah more than usual these days. I know lots of us are seeing the rain and beginning to question what God is doing in our lives, in our culture. We are just hanging out waiting, wondering if the dark and clouds are ever going to end. But we have to have that hope for the great rainbow- a promise of a new start, a new day.

I just remembered now in writing this that right before I left the convent, my co-postulants and I had a retreat together and my postulant formator gave each of us an image that came to mind when she thought and prayed for us. For me, it was a rainbow- the mixture of sun and rain, but a symbol of great promise. Hmmmm...I'm going to have to go back and meditate on that again!

The point is, Noah didn't know when (or if) the dove (or the sun!) was ever going to come, but he believed and waited, and did what the Lord said. And to tie Paul back in- I don't feel as close to God as I perhaps did when discerning the convent. I'm beginning to think God gives you all those 'lights' as a grace to make that huge step to enter religious life, and I'm not sure if there is anything quite like it.

But I'm not in darkness- things are just a little cloudy. And perhaps these clouds are to help others and their salvation. I've begun to look at my current state in this way. I trust it's bringing me closer to Jesus too, as Paul says, but since I am not 'feeling' Him, I will focus on how I can bring Him to others- in the here and now- where He wants me. Hanging out in the ark, until I see the rainbow...

Peace,
Julia

1 comment:

Emily said...

Beautiful post, Julia. Hang in there -- you know the rainbow is coming! Praying for you!