Sunday, August 09, 2009
Last week I met with my spiritual director and he commented that I seemed very at peace, which I was. My last retreat went well, I learned a great deal and have a lot to think and pray about, with the plan to take further action with God's timing, and not mine. All pressure was removed.
But yesterday, that changed. I was going to be seeing my friends at a party; friends who knew what I'd been doing this summer. They have all been excited for me and wished me well, have been supportive, but I knew they'd have questions.
And quite honestly, I don't feel like talking about it. What I've written on my blog is it, and most of my friends don't even know about it or read it. Of the few people who do know, fewer still are among my readers, and I'm thankful for that. (I have a pseudonym for a reason!)
But each of those friends, last night asked, "So...are you going to be a nun?"
They looked disappointed when I said I couldn't give an answer. In their gazes was thinly veiled pity, and that was hardest of all. I could see assumptions being made, which they tried to quickly hide.
But what I experienced this summer is far too personal, and even of the stuff I can discuss, well, it might give the wrong impression, so I'd rather be silent, especially when in a crowd. And in this crowd would be those, who, with a popular charismatic priest also present, might even suddenly suggest he pray for me for this or that purpose, when really, I'd prefer not to be the center of attention.
When I was a child I was constantly thrust unceremoniously into a circle of praying people asking God to cure this or that affliction, and I hated it. And now, as an adult, with an understanding of the NECESSITY of suffering, I cringe at even the mention of charismatic spirituality which seems only to ask for cures and "healing", but never that the person be open to asking the deeper questions that come through trial, never that the person know God in the silence and loneliness of that moment, never that the person see how this tribulation unites them to Him in a special way that praise and worship music will NEVER create.
I wanted my needs, and yes, my very private suffering, to remain in the shadows where they belong. It's not something that needs to be discussed, or witnessed, or testified to.
And so I escaped the gathering of friends, promising future events, grateful for their friendship and the solitude awaiting me at home.
But it's not over.
I've been dreading going back to work for a reason, and not just because of the stress of my first day back.
My supervisor asked me this afternoon if I liked my second retreat better, but truly, they can't be compared. Different things happened on each, both part of the same puzzle, both making me realize there are pieces missing.
Maybe because I'm still in pieces myself.
I don't know.
All I know is that it's difficult to go through this, I have to do it all by myself because there isn't anyone out there experiencing exactly the same thing. Even if they are, their isolation is different than mine. Their experience is different than mine. We can know what it's like...but never explain.
I wished I could say something to my friends and even my co-workers, but I will say this...they seemed to understand at some level, although...they still misunderstood. And I can't blame them because I can't discuss something that happened that has surprised me, although in a good way. Yet it has to be discerned also, and it's not time to reveal that to anyone other than those on my short list.
I spoke with one of those people on that list today, and will admit it made me feel better. I'm happy to have a few people to talk to, those who get the details that no one else can, or maybe even wants to understand. What helps the most though, is speaking with them and knowing what I don't have to say. There is freedom in those conversations. I can say as much as I want...or as little. They don't ask for more, and they don't ask for less.
There is a girl where I work though, who is considering a religious vocation and she's very excited and knew I was going away on a couple visits. I did tell her today that I'd be happy to speak with her, and that the info isn't public. But I know she has serious questions and of course, I understand and hope I can help. I told her she can call me any time. No, she won't get the personal stuff, only the nuts and bolts, and that's all she is really asking about. I can provide that, and I pray that, if God is calling her, that I am just a stone in her path to help her find her way.
After all, that's the entire purpose of my blog and why I write under a pen name.
To serve as a step stone.
If that's all I can be to anyone, that's enough.