Sunday, March 15, 2009
Have you ever climbed a mountain? Or just a large hill or bluff? What about a tower, one to which you had to travel? Do you remember, during your ascent, looking behind you, and at first, you saw only the bare path over which you'd just crossed. And after awhile, maybe a few switchbacks, you look back again, and you can see the treetops, but not much else, other than your car in the parking lot. And so you give up, but then, some time later, as you climb higher and higher, you come to a lookout point. And at that point, your trail guide says to you, "Look!" And you look out over the valley, transfixed by the view, seeing the road, the other lookout points, the intersections, and the trail you've climbed. In that view, you understand a lot more than you did as you traveled along it; the overhead view gives you an entirely different understanding both of where you've been...and where you're going.
My vocational discernment has been a lot like that for me, only it looks, from my current vantage point, a lot like the exodus of the Israelites as they wandered the desert for 40 years. Stumbling upon a mountain that has lead me to a vantage point has been pure Grace for me...on my own, I'd still be bumbling around and picking cactus spines out of myself.
Actually, I am.
Over the last couple months, a great deal has been brought to my attention. First, the Cistercians, which I think now is not where God is drawing me; rather, I think He has used them to get my attention. As of this point, I don't know if I'll be visiting them; in fact, I highly doubt it.
In this ascent, the view has changed. I see something else, something I'd seen before, but disregarded because they didn't fit "my" definition of what "I" thought I wanted.
I was asking the wrong questions. I was still looking at religious life through the lens of my own will.
The ONLY way to approach Vocation is through the view of God; what does HE see?
So God invited me to ascend a bit further so that I could see the highways and valleys and mountains in a way closer to that of His view.
As I have turned to look out over the valley in the company of Our Lord, I've not only seen where I've been, but the signs that have directed me to Him. I've seen more of who I am and where, from the very beginning, He has directed me to be. Who He is directing me to become.
At this time, I'm not going to go into the details, but a great deal has come into my understanding in recent weeks, and I've taken action to further where I believe God is drawing me.
As of this point, I believe I was mistaken to think I was called to the Dominican Order. While I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Dominicans, I now believe they have simply adopted me in order to guide me to my destination.
One of my favorite works of art is Fra. Angelico's depiction of Father Dominic kneeling at the foot of the Cross, the blood of Christ dripping upon him, both in shared anguish.
In fact...ALL of my favorite works of art involve an aspect of the Passion of Christ; in my bedroom, each day I wake up and look upon the Agony in the Garden. Each night I sleep under the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, an icon that points to the Passion of Christ. Every time I pass a crucifix, I cannot help but stop and stare at it, taken in, wanting to remain in its shadow.
My spirituality isn't Dominican, or Fransciscan, Carmelite or Salesian. While I admire the Benedictines and embrace the Augustinians, in reality, none of them are home to me, although ALL, in a way contribute, and, in turn, my spirituality is a part of theirs as well.
In looking over everything that surrounds me, everything that attracts me to Christ, I have to admit that one of the communities that first got my attention is back on the radar screen. And I never thought I'd truly consider them; not because of who they are, but because of the discipline of their lives.
I believe that I may be a Passionist.
It's throughout my blog; woven into my writings, into what I think, how I think, how I pray.
When I first saw the Passionists, I rejected them, thinking, "Oh, they're cloistered", and I didn't want to be so.
But a Vocation is not about "me". It's about God. As I have climbed this mountain, I've come to realize my only focus needs to be on Christ Himself. Nothing else. It doesn't matter what I think I want. I've done so much, and truly, nearly everything I've wanted to do.
My only regret, if I were to go into an enclosure right now, is that I haven't had the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. I want to physically walk through the life of Christ, and to travel along the Via Dolorosa, and kneel at the site of His Crucifixion.
Otherwise, this world has nothing for me. This world has never loved me, nor do I want it to.
The biggest question I've had to ask myself is this: Where can I find Christ?
At the Cross.
And He bids me to follow Him.
So be it, if this is truly what He wills.