Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I'm not sure when it happened. It wasn't a single moment, like a drop of dew forming on the petal of a rose, that both reflects the light and takes on the vibrant hue of the flower simulataneously.
It took longer. It was tiny seed that grew, and became something hidden, then poked through the earth, constantly expanding, growing, constantly evolving, becoming something new, but staying the same, always connected, for it is the foundation that made it grow. And it was fed by the exterior elements that I took in, akin to sunshine and water...feeding me, feeding what was growing.
I don't know the moment I fell in love with Jesus. I only know that I did, and since then, everything has been different.
There have been moments, snapshots in time, but more a sense of growing wonder, of closeness, of His voice, His presence, His example. When I look at the crucifix, I see love, intermingled with the suffering, but the love is dominant. Who would do such a thing...but for love?
This has been growing for years now, and when I first came to realize it, I fled in tears, terrified. Why ME? I'm not worthy! I wanted to be invisible in a crowd...why was Jesus looking at ME? How could He notice? Why?
But He has been patient, and waited for me to come back. No pressure, just a gentle draw. I was like the doe beside the stream, wanting to drink, testing the air, ready to flee. And Our Lord stood with His hand out, waiting, unmoving. Never forceful. Letting me come according to my time and my need. Letting me flee, knowing I'd be back.
All He asked me to do was Trust. He supplied all the love.
And waited. He's still waiting. I can see Him more clearly now, holding out His hand. Waiting.
That's what love does. Waits. Sacrifices. Gives.
On Sunday, when I arrived at Mass, as I opened my breviary I offered a little prayer, to be answered if it be God's will. Just a small prayer, knowing He may not answer, but wanting to reach back to Him, wanting to understand something.
He answered, throughout the Mass. It wasn't about feeling or emotion...in fact, I was pretty "dry", but heard Him in every word. Phrases that stuck out. Surprising phrases. The choice of music...speaking directly to me, not coincidental. And then, startlingly, at Communion, my name, called specifically, followed by one of my deepest prayers, contained in a phrase, one that had been unuttered but present nontheless.
Knowing those words were directed towards me, that my prayer had been inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that my love was not apart from the love of others present, that the love expressed to me was not for me alone, but applied to others. That the Sacrifice at which I was present was for me personally just as it was for many of us, personally. We who choose to accept it.
Over the last few years, though, what has revealed love to me hasn't been what the world thinks defines it. REAL Love is something far harsher, something that doesn't allow one to turn back and turn it away. It gives us the choice in the very beginning...drink of this cup...or turn it away? Once we've accepted it, we can't possibly turn away; real love is a permanent decision, which does not allow room for divorce or separation, for malignment, adultery; it does not allow us to run away. It is a decision for life.
I've had to make that choice in different situations, again and again. Every day. Every moment. So often I fail. But Our Lord is faithful, and continually makes His offering. Teaching me what it means to sacrifice. To give of ourselves.
I'm not there yet. He's still calling. I'm still running away, but there's a difference now; before when I ran, I ran in tears, terrified. Then I began running in rebellion. And now I'm running out of habit, because it's what I'm used to doing, but what I really DESIRE is to be running the other way. A year or so ago I spoke briefly with a priest at my parish, astounded after an evening of prayer with some Sisters. I told him, "I think this is for real...", and all he said was, "Run to Him."
I know now that when I run, I'll be running to the Cross. If I love Our Lord, I must love suffering, I must embrace suffering, I must embrace joy, I must embrace all that the Cross represents. I must embrace eternity.
What is love? I didn't used to know.
Maybe I still don't. Today, as I spoke about children, a woman, a mother with a wry expression asked me, "Do you have children?"
I was almost ashamed. Never mind that I'm not married and never have been. The expression on her face said enough. It said I didn't have credibility, I couldn't possibly understand. She nodded, smiling cynical, reserving judgment. But I could see through her eyes...I wished she could see Christ in mine. I'm not sure if He was there or if it was just me.
What she didn't understand is that I don't have biological children; mine are spiritual. She's one of them.
That's what it means to embrace the Cross...to have your own children reject you.
Jesus knew about this. Mary knew about this.
I'm only just learning.
But it makes me love Him more. Because it's what I've done to everyone who ever really loved me through my entire life. Rejected them.
That's what love is really about. Rejection. Self-Sacrifice. Redemption.
It's not gushy feelings. It's not a cheap money-shot in a B-movie. It's not a one-liner or a momentary experience.
It's real. It's enduring. It's harsh...and it's bonding. It's deeper than any physical union.
I think I'm in love with Jesus, and I don't ever want to be in love with anyone else. He is enough for me.
I only pray I can live up to His invitation...whatever it is.