Every so often I have a sense of "abandonment." It is not loneliness or sadness, but something different, perhaps a sense that words cannot describe. I find that this "mood" is often a catalyst to prayer and contemplation if I take the time to, in a way, enter into it.
I have been working on my second icon; Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or as I prefer, Our Mother of Perpetual Help), and it's a very slow process. This icon is very large, which means it takes much longer to fill in the colors, and I find that, because I am working directly under a ceiling fan, the paint dries out more quickly than I can adequately control, but yet, I often have to pause to wait for my freshest layer to dry before I can continue.
This kind of slow process definitely helps me to remain in prayer, as with each brush stroke, with each repetitive motion I am able to pray for a particular purpose. Maybe it's for help in writing this icon, perhaps for those I know have a devotion to her, perhaps for those I know are grieving.
A friend of mine is still grieving the loss of her dear nephew who was recently killed in an accident. Today we prayed the rosary for him in the chapel, and so today, as I worked on my icon, she, her nephew, and their family remained close to me so that I could offer them to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
I began to see a connection, then, to my sense of abandonment today. I contemplated this solitude of mine and offered it up in union with Christ in his abandonment on the Cross, and Our Lady when nearly everyone else fled, leaving her to her grief and utter abandonment. Even though others loved Jesus, even though John and Mary remained with her a the foot of the cross, none could truly enter into her grief; she is the Mother of Sorrows, who invites us to fly to her with our own.
As I worked on filling in her cloak, I considered how often I have left her to her grief, abandoned a the foot of the Cross. I wiped away a mistake when my brush had gone over the line into another color, grimacing at the residue left behind, and considered how my willful sin abandons not just Jesus, but His Mother as she prays at the foot of the Cross, her tears mingling with the blood of her Son.
I thought about how often I had willfully been distracted at Mass, perhaps entertaining other thoughts that took me away from the Holy Sacrifice being made present, and therefore, abandoning Our Lord at the very moment of salvation. How I have added to Our Mother's sorrows by being so distracted!
And still I worked, for I know that in the spiritual life it is important to recognize mistakes and their effects.
It is good for me to recognize how often I have abandoned Our Lord, and it puts my own eerie sense of abandonment into perspective. Perhaps it is proper for me to experience this while working on this particular icon, for the sense becomes a vehicle to deeper prayer and deeper penetration of the Mystery of our Redemption.
Mary always points to Jesus and always draws us to the Cross. She helps us seek and find Him whom our hearts desire.
We are never really abandoned.