My journey home to the Church was astonishingly smooth, even easy, once all the gears clicked into place and the movement really began -- God had paved the way for me for years, slowly preparing me for Truth, for Himself. And so many of the common struggles or obstacles to acceptance of the Church's Truth I just did not have. It was all deliciously and mysteriously True; for some things, an answer at long last, for others, an answer I had never sought, but made perfect sense, and awakened a thirst in me that never subsided. On those things that surprised me in my own uneasiness, I never doubted their truth or the Church's wisdom, only knew that there was something in me that needed teaching, healing, or awakening, which continues to this day, and is in the "littler" details of spirituality, for the most part. God always sends just what I need, when I need it and when I am ready for it, to illuminate some aspect of Truth for me that I hadn't seen so clearly before or even avoided facing. So often His Truth and Love lay bare some truth about ourselves we don't want to face or deal with or see. But once the unpleasantness, discomfort, or pain has passed, a peace comes, even delight! Oh yes, even delight as you exult, wonderstruck, in the sweetness and sheer deliciousness of this new-found Truth. Yes, your soul has grown and been transformed just a little bit more in Christ.
My journey into the Church has been and always will be a kind of Dance, learning to follow His lead, to not push or pull away or force my will, or drag my feet -- a dance into the grace and piercing Beauty of God as manifest in His Creation and in His Church. To dance with the rhythm of the Earth's seasons and the Church's seasons, to dance to all the beauty of the treasure chest He's given us, to revel and exult in all therein. Sometimes I feel like it is a perpetual discovery of beauty and loveliness and grace and hope and love. There is always something new to nourish and feed my soul, to heal my wounds, to startle me out of complacency or apathy or laziness. There is never a lack of ways He stirs and awakens the yearning inside me again. I look back to just a few years ago, and marvel at how even then I felt awestruck at all that had been given me, and wondered at how I could possibly go "any deeper" than I already had, to know more beauty than this, to go even deeper into the love of God, to be even closer to Our Lady. Yet I was taken deeper! And how. It takes my breath away even now at the thought that there could possibly be more -- more beauty, more love, more depth to all this, more to wonder at, more than what has already been given to me?! And yet that is the astonishing reality. There will always be more.
He sings a love song to me in my sleep and whispers invitations to trust and holy, wild abandonment. His eyes draw me to Him in longing, but I am driven away by my fear, distrust, and awareness of my sinfulness and weakness. Yet, like the poem, He only draws closer to me, sweetly asking if I need anything. "Who made the eyes but I?" He asks, the infinity of love in His eyes haunting me in my dreams, a gentle Presence throughout the day that begs my attention, to be present to His Presence, too.
Christ asks for a home in your soul, where He can be at rest with you, where He can talk easily to you, where you and He, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another. ~ Caryll Houselander
God desires nearness. He would like to be with you to the end of the world. He is a beggar for your love. ~ Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar
Our Saviour says: "Go into your room and pray," but by 'room' you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you. ~ Saint Ambrose
Sometimes it comes to me, through some echo of the Beauty, some glimpse out of the corner of my eyes, a reflection as in a mirror, when the infinite reverberates inside me, a hint of a Voice that calls my name -- and then this ache, the ache that fills my whole being -- swelling up into tears and trembles and shivers throughout my body. It hits me with a gasp. Ache is so feeble a word for something so intense and deep, extending into the very recesses of my heart and soul, reaching out towards the infinite. It's an ineffable, inexpressible ache, ache, ache, ache! Words are suddenly burdensome and clumsy (though it is often then that a rush of words will descend upon me). There is no earthly way this will be completely translated into human language -- so small, so limited, so narrow -- how could it possibly enclose and express something of the Infinite and Uncontainable? Only with hints and shadows and flickers of the fullness of the reality. It is then that I long for someone, somebody to hold me close to their own heart in my aching, to shelter me in my sudden vulnerability to the expanse of this wide and wonder-full Cosmos --- yet I scarcely ever speak of this to anyone. Yes, in bits and pieces like here, but in those actual moments, I am alone in my humanness. I don't even mention it to my parents, the longing, how could I possibly make myself so painfully vulnerable, even to them whom I know love me so, so much? No, no...I can't even try to explain it to them. Not in full, not when it so evades capture by words. I need someone who already knows and can share the ache with me, and wrapped in embrace together, breathing together, hands pressed together, ache together, not needing words or speech, to be able to weep openly and freely when we have been pierced so deeply with such acute awareness of our exile, for a simple glance into each other's eyes to know that the other knows. Oh yes, they know. And for that to be enough.
This --- oh, this! I long for this, to have a companion in this life, a true companion on my spiritual journey, a fellow pilgrim. Not just a friend, though I cherish dearly all whom I have, and are fellow pilgrims -- brothers, sisters -- in their own beautiful way, but my soulmate, my life's helpmate. Where, oh where, my Lord, is he? Where is the human heart who knows this ache that flows in my blood and dwells deep in my bones, whose heart was made to beat next to mine in this life? He who will help me stand when I stumble or fall, who will love me in my weakness and imperfection, and for whom I can do the same? He my appointed companion on the journey home to You.
For so long have I felt this strange lack, like something is missing, and the separate ache of not having those eyes to look into that reflect a heart that knows and understands. Long have I sojourned in this my desert. I am a perpetual unrequited look of recognition.
Wounded by Beauty. I am irrevocably wounded by Beauty. And oh, what an exquisite pain it is! I need a man who is as intoxicated by Beauty as I am. Who positively craves it and longs to swim in it, drink it in, sinking ever deeper into it, or rather, Him, He who is Beauty -- He who Is. Beauty is Truth is Goodness is Love is Life. I want to dive with him into the Beauty of God's Love and never resurface. To swim with him where the water is sweet and the brightness of the Sun doesn't blind. For our souls to be intertwined and bound together, for thoughts and hopes and pains and heartbeats and breaths and flesh and lips and hands to be woven together -- And twain shall become one flesh. To be joined in communion with him and to learn communion with him. To be drawn out of our isolation into communion, for a glimpse of that ultimate consummation for which we were created. For love to grow betwixt us and within us; love is always creative: to gaze upon our love and learning-love embodied and new and astonishing.
We are like fish on the land, gasping for the water which is our breath, yet so terribly unaware we are even gasping, dying. And so I walk to the shore of His River, the unending abyss of the Sea of His Love, and all the while I had been dying unknowingly, starved for Beauty, starved for Truth, starved for Love, the currents of this sweet Water pull me in, and suddenly I am drowning in Beauty. For so long have we been dying, suffocating little fish on land, that when life floods us, we are bewildered and think then that this is death, and insanely fight to swim to the surface, back to the barren land of death that we had grown so accustomed to. Darkness seemed as light, lies seemed as truth, death seemed as life. But in swimming, in fighting, we suddenly realize we've been plunged into life. As we slowly allow ourselves to become more and more alive, we become drunk on this Water of Life, and beg to be pulled ever deeper into its depths, to sink more and more into its wondrousness and deliciousness. Life, we cry! Awash in the stories redemption sings, we are astonished at the blood now flooding our veins, at our hearts which beat ever stronger. Where we had only bitter emptiness now overflows with grace's fruitful abundance. We thirst with an insatiable thirst for more. The thirst for this Beauty is never fully quenched.
There is always more.