Thursday, June 18, 2009
It takes the entire Church to foster a single Vocation.
A lot has happened in the last couple weeks and I confess I'm absolutely amazed. I knew that coming into this summer, I was being asked to trust God...with everything. With my heart, with my soul...with everything that owns me (the house and bills and debt).
One of the difficulties I face is not wanting to ask for help, especially financial. Having grown up on welfare, I swore I'd never live like that again. I'm perfectly able to support myself. I have worked hard to get a degree, to become qualified (for many things now!) in hopes I'll never have to rely on others again.
And yet, here and there, things have come up that have made me have to depend on others, and in ways that I found most difficult to accept: financially. Those who have helped me in the last couple years will never see and don't know the interior struggle I had within me to accept their assistance.
I have to admit, I still feel guilty about it and in the back of my mind, that "debt" is there. Even if my paperwork-debts are erased, I will never consider myself free until they, too, are paid back.
Then, with this summer fast approaching, I had to make a decision: place my trust in a temp agency or other to find me a job that will pay my bills? Or trust God and dedicate myself to finding Him, seeking the Kingdom of God? Could I do both?
I wanted to do both. I wanted to schedule my summer so that I could discern some of the time and work the other part of the time. As it is, I will have my 10 hours per week at my regular job (but for when I take a vacation day when out of town.) So truly, that is being fulfilled.
Yet no other jobs have been "appearing". I did decide to place my apples in one basket, so to speak. Even as my SD pointed out, God was asking me to trust Him. To keep my eyes on Him, and I knew it was time to take a step in His direction.
God has not let me fall; in fact, He is providing in ways I never could have expected, and in ways I refused to request. He has seen my own obstinance, yet in His mercy, has acted through others to provide for my financial needs this summer.
Just today, I received a contribution from someone I know well. I don't want to identify the person/family, but when I spoke to him yesterday and he verified that I haven't been irresponsible with my mortgage payments, he offered to cover it for the summer. Today the check arrived...enough to cover my mortgage for July and August. He asks only for prayers and that I call him and tell him what happens during my visits. And no, he isn't asking for anything but general information.
I nearly burst into tears while on the phone with him, realizing what God has done and how He is providing for me.
My plane ticket and Amtrak ticket are also being covered by a multitude of donors, and I think gas money for my car as I drive later this summer to visit the Cistercians will also be covered.
In doing the calculations, what I need is being covered. My actual, billable needs.
This entire summer, my trips to visit communities are being covered by the Mystical Body of Christ. Not just in prayer (which I need!), but the temporal needs of my life as well.
I have a ride to and from the airport in July. I have some dear friends, a family with small children, who are going to watch my dog. We visited them today with much hilarity and it seems as though it's going to work out well! (I just hope she isn't too much trouble for them!)
I have a Pastor and an SD who support me completely, and a family that maybe doesn't completely understand, but they're willing to help. And in fact, I'll be traveling with borrowed luggage - from my brother! (As brothers go, he's probably thinking, "Anything that will get my sister out of town is a good thing....) :-)
Pilgrim Making a Pilgrimage
Some time ago, one of my co-workers was criticizing (in a charitable way!) the fact that people go on pilgrimages and fund themselves. Never having been on a pilgrimage, I asked her honestly how they're supposed to GET to Rome or the Holy Land or Lourdes unless they fork over the money for the trip?
I can't remember everything, but she indicated that a true pilgrim doesn't arrive at his destination by his own means. Part of the spirit of a pilgrimage is being willing to be dependent upon others. Of leaving home with nothing, and arriving at the destination via the alms of those who saw a need and responded. It's about learning dependence upon God, of being willing to suffer for Him, and maybe in a way, it's a walk to Calvary even when the destination isn't physical Jerusalem.
What she said made sense. A pilgrimage is a spiritual quest, and maybe has different intents, but each of them has to do with finding God, following Him, prayer, and sacrifice.
When I leave next month to find out whether God may truly be calling me, and whether one of these communities is my home on earth, I go with nothing in my pocket. I go with the clothing on my back, and other necessary items in a suitcase borrowed from my brother. The money in my pocket for incidentals won't be the fruits of my labor, but of the labor of friends.
The flight to and from, and the train ticket between destinations comes to me largely compliments of people I haven't even met and may never meet in this life...may I meet them on the other side of the veil.
I know that when I go, I don't go alone. This IS a pilgrimage of sorts, for althoughI'm not going to visit a shrine, but rather, to meet the Bridegroom in a special way. I may find "home" on this earthly pilgrimage, or I may find that my "home" is where I am now. I may find that the life of a religious is where I belong, but that those particular communities are not the right place.
In any case, I go to follow where God is leading, and because all of this is happening, and with the help of so many people, it must be what God wills in this moment.
Yes, it's a bit scary, but at the same time, it's a whirlwind of excitement, and truly, I have that "peace that surpasses understanding."
I truly don't understand how all of this has happened, yet I go, gratefully, and as I seek my Vocation, no matter where it leads, I know that all those who have helped go with me in a special way. The pilgrimage I make is theirs as well.
A few times I've written of going to Holy Communion with the recognition that of myself, I can offer nothing. I am a sinful creature, indebted to the Mercy of Our Lord, and can never merit such an act of salvation. In that, I've recognized my interior poverty and learned that the best way to receive Him was through that very poverty.
And now, I go to meet Him in another way, again, through poverty, knowing I don't merit what I possess, grateful for such a gift.
Thank you, Jesus, for your generosity and for revealing how trust in You is never in vain.
Thank you all, for your own ongoing prayers and other contributions.
Trust is NEVER in vain.
Sacred Heart of Jesus...we place all our trust in Thee.