Monday, May 11, 2009
Keep Your Eyes on God
Recently, I had a very vivid dream.
I was at work, but not in my own parish. It was in a Church in which I'd never been, but I was being drawn to visit Our Lord, and when I entered, I was surprised to see a small middle section of pews moved to the front and center of the church, pressed against the communion rail, front and center before the High Altar. In fact, it seemed even the High Altar had moved towards the rail. There were plants and flowers around the altar/tabernacle, but there wasn't a single person in the room.
I wasn't sure I was supposed to be there as it seemed it was set up for something special, and that center section seemed more proper to maybe priests than some random person like me. But all I wanted to do was pray, to spend time with Jesus, and so I went to the first pew, thinking if the Pastor or anyone else arrived and completed their setup for the event, I would get out of the way.
As I prayed, more and more people began to arrive. Other people, lay people prepared a few things on the altar, such as a special monstrance. I was happy to be allowed to remain, thinking maybe there would be a benediction.
A woman and her very ADHD son knelt down next to me. Well...she did. He was all over the place, freaking out, noisy. As she tended to him, she leaned over to apologize to me. But her apologies were in vain for the child didn't disturb me at all. She did. Why was she apologizing for her son, who actually, was in the process of finding art and dragging it with great effort of out storage and into the sanctuary? I was grateful for his overactivity, and irritated by the mother who knelt and focused on him...but not on God.
People were everywhere, and suddenly I realized the pew section had expanded to accomodate them. I was now several rows from the altar, and moved a bit to the side as another section had been added. The Church was filling up. Not with quiet people, though. Some were noisy, some were quiet and recollected. But...they were beautiful. Not in the real physical sense, but in their very presence. It was a mix of...everyone.
Somewhere around there, I woke up.
This is a dream I pondered for awhile, a couple days, in fact. And then realized the obvious revelation: throughout the dream, there was a voice saying, "Keep your eyes on Me" or "Keep your eyes on Jesus". In the dream, no matter what happened, I kept my eyes on the tabernacle, and NOTHING disturbed me.
(Nada te turbe. Let nothing disturb you. ~ St. Teresa de Avila)
Being moved backwards to allow others to come closer to Jesus..that seemed only right in the dream. I was not offended. I was not disturbed. I could still see Him. Indeed, I wanted to be right at His feet, but He did not will it...it didn't matter.
I realized that this is exactly what St. Catherine of Siena addressed, what all the Saints have addressed, what Pope Benedict XVI in Called to Communion addresed...what Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Savior ALWAYS taught: Love God and love neighbor.
No matter what we do, we have to keep our eyes on God. We don't "love our neighbor" and then love God. It's the other way around. We TRULY love others BECAUSE we love God and can't take our eyes off of Him.
Even in my dream, I wondered because I couldn't figure out why all the noisy people didn't irritate me in my prayer. But it didn't matter...it was all about Jesus. They were just as drawn to Him as I, even if they didn't understand. Even if they weren't focused. They belonged to Him, too.
It was all about love of God and love of neighbor. Their being and purpose doesn't disrupt mine, but enhances it. That constant litany, "Keep your eyes on Me" is what allowed me to love those around me, no matter how irritating they were. It made me UNDERSTAND them, and forgive them, and love them, more than I could ever have done on my own.
What a lesson. I needed that.
I've been working hard, lately, on trusting God, in putting my focus on Him. I lost my focus. I looked at everything else, but put Him in a corner.
I need to put God front and center in my life. That means Mass, daily if I can get there, it means prayer needs to come before anything else (maybe even coffee!), and it means that when something disturbs me, I need to look to Christ in any way I can. Maybe it'll mean straining to look at Him over the tops of a mass of teeming people. Maybe it'll mean finding His presence interiorly. Maybe it'll mean just knowing He is there and believing even when I can't see.
I've failed at this, and constantly fail at it. But it's what we are called to do.
The reality is that we need to keep our eyes on God, in every moment. We need to know Christ, recognize the Cross, and know we are in its shadow. Life will never be easy. But it is always Grace.
What it comes down to is this: If we aren't keeping our gaze upon God, then to whom or what do we dedicate our devotion?