Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven. St. Rose of Lima
Today I completed many things on my To Do Lost.
This is a Red Letter Day for me. I rarely complete many, many things from this never-ending list...I never complete everything..there are too many things and there is too little time.
In sitting to read my missal and in sitting to blog, I realise how much blogging ( or, in reality, writing) is a part of my life.
When life is too hectic to blog ( or write)...as it has been this week... I feel out-of-sorts. I feel lost. I feel set adrift in a sea of thoughts and ideas and feelings which I cannot quite capture. Unless I write.
And as I look at my life, as far back as I can remember, with coherence, that is, I see that I have used writing as tool for life.
As an eight year old, I wrote escapist fiction. I read those ubiquitous boarding school books (especially the Dimsie series and the Chalet School) and I wrote my life, tucked away from others, hidden in odd corners, so no one would notice, written in old, discarded, a few-blank-pages-left school exercise books.
But not really my life, with its ins and outs and peculiarities. I wrote, instead, my life as I wished it. To be, in a dormitary with other, nice, normal girls. With regularity. With fun. With adventure. With caring adults. With rhythm. With prayer. And chapel. And that Catholic influence in The Chalet School. And books.
In secondary school, I wrote poetry. And poetry. And poetry. Most of it pretty bad. Most of it about the world around me. Most of it cynical. ( How Can They Speak of Love? This civilization of ours...a poem for which I won an award but which still makes me gasp at that fourteen year old cynic, who did not believe in love..who could not see love around her...)
As a young mother, I wrote in snatches, those little parcels of time garnered and collected and hoarded and held close, as mothers do with time. I used child care time, for an hour here and an hour there, to write. Journals. Odd, miscellaneous entries. And that poetry again. (He is sucking me dry...he is draining me...)
So, today, as I finally find time, make time, demand time, to write and to blog, I feel calm. I go to work happy. Sorted. As my life and thoughts are sorted.
Thinking about Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Monday lunch, in honour of St Rose of Lima.
We read this of St Paul in the Epistle, 2 Corinthians. ...for I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God. For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
I was struck by the thought in this Epistle. That St Paul used the bond of marriage as a comparison, when describing his ardent desire that all Christians should belong totally to Christ, in the purity and faithfulness of that love which consecrated virgins often demonstrate.
The bond of marriage is used often in Scripture, to describe Christ's love for His Church. And our response in the here and now...of how we should then live.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...Ephesians Ch 5.
If we love each other as Christ loves the Church, how do we act - today..tomorrow?
That has been the direction of my thoughts.
How do I live? And how do I love?
Self sacrifical? (Ow!!)
Is love a competition, carefully measured out and weighed?
And does one need to know love, to experience love, in order to love?
Love comes, sometimes, and is, sometimes, borne from pain and from suffering. And brings more suffering. More love. More graces. As St Rose of Lima describes above.
Love is a careful, honest and sometimes brutal choice.
Love is deliberate. It lasts, not because of how I feel about another - but because of my dedication, my commitment to another.
Pope John Paul II wrote that Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought....in other words, freedom is the ability to choose to do good.
It is easy to do what we want. It isn't always as easy to do what is right.
And when we choose to do right by another, to another, especially when it is not our inclination or in our interests to do so, we thus exercise our capacity for love.
In my writing, in my reading, in my praying, in my childhood, in my life, I see, murkily, darkly, through the mist, that human love is not just some gooey, runny, warm, fuzzy emotion we feel . I begin to understand that human love (imperfectly) mirrors the love of Christ, of He who laid down His life for us, in that it exists most fully when we act in a way that is loving. That considers another.
And so I write. And think. And get a few things "sorted out".