Sunday, July 9, 2017

DESCENDING TOWARD TRUST



"When we continually 'see' the work of God in our life, there is less need for faith. When the perception of blessing or presence is removed, there is an opportunity to exercise faith on a deeper and purer level, which is very pleasing to God and unites us in a deep way with Him, even when His closeness to us might not be felt. John of the Cross tells us that it is this ever-increasing purification that most directly and immediately unites us to God. The act of deep trust and abandonment and fidelity that faith entails is very pleasing to God and brings us very close to Him."

-- Ralph Martin, The Fulfillment of All Desire 

After my confessor and spiritual director of 30 years died last year, I begged God to send me someone who could become my guide for the future, at a time when I feel as if I am wandering and lost without direction.  And at last, I found a new confessor, a priest who had been ordained less than a year, yet whose wisdom seems to be exactly what I need. When I saw him the last time, I was struggling to trust in God, who seems to have left me bereft, without my beloved husband who was my guiding star for my entire adult life.  I feel weak, often unable to follow through on good spiritual intentions, with an undercurrent of bitterness towards Him for sending this tectonic upheaval into my life.  I told him that I was afraid even to pray for a greater trust in God.  


He told me that even though it has been four and a half years since my husband died, I probably didn't realize how deeply wounded I continue to be by his loss.  This comment, coming from a priest who had never even met my husband, pierced me deeply with its truth.  He told me to tell God what I am feeling honestly, that he wants to hear it from me even though he already knows it.  He further said I should ask God to let me experience him keeping his promises, and that I shouldn't beat myself up when I haven't done things right, that I should give what I can give, even if because of my emotional exhaustion, all I can give is the widow's mite.  And finally, that if I can't pray for trust, I can pray to want to pray for trust.  


I can do that, even as I experience the reality that, for me, deepening spirituality is very much like going down a staircase below the surface of the earth where the light becomes thinner and paler the deeper you go. No hand guides you, yet this seems to be the only way before you and you move ahead tentatively, nearly blind, and realize that you are trusting in a very different way.  It is trust, but there is no sense of security in this trust; I am walking on ice in the dark, not knowing if it will crack and I will plunge into the freezing waters below.  God has allowed me to be here, and I can speak only the lines from the Bible's darkest book, "Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you? I put my hand over my mouth....I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know" (Job 40:4;42:3).