Happy Feast of St. Rose of Lima!
And also of Sts. Felix and Adauctus, martyrs! (They are two of my favorite martyrs. Click here to read the short story I wrote about them years ago.)
On my mind. . .
This is me the other day cuddling the most precious newborn baby girl, the Dash’s newest niece, named for one of my very favorite titles of our Lady (I’ll leave you to speculate at that!). This is definitely one of the perks of chaperoning. . .you get to tag along to some of the most special things ever. In fact, as a chaperone, I’ve gotten to welcome two very new, perfectly beautiful babies in the hospital, something I’ve barely experienced since the birth of my youngest sister (thirteen years ago!). I’ve been able to cradle them in my arms, get lost in the details of their little faces, and share in the brimming joy and gratitude of their family. There’s nothing quite like being in that place where familial love is multiplying before your eyes.
As a young lady somewhere between girlhood and womanhood, it’s just so natural to hold that newborn and imagine it is your very own child; that this is your hospital room, that your own (imaginary) husband is on his way back from a coffee run to the cafeteria, and will come through the door any minute (with soft steps in case you’re asleep) bearing the particular five-o-clock shadow and tired but shining eyes of a new father.
Even though my dreams weren’t quite this detailed while I was loving on this precious baby girl, the wistfulness of them was still very much there. How long. . .how long before this might be me, Lord? What do You think? (It’s funny, but I often find myself asking Him what He thinks, especially when I find my heart filling up with desires like these. I haven’t had any lightening bolts yet, but maybe He likes to be asked!)
It’s so easy for me (and probably most girls my age) to slip into that spirit of wistful wondering, especially in opportune settings like someone else’s wedding, hospital room, baptism, etc. And while I realize it is perfectly natural to have those thoughts and feelings, they can quite easily run away with me, snatch me from the present and leave me suspended somewhere alone in my mind, so focused on a future I can’t enjoy yet that I become blind to the enjoyment of the present.
This is something I feel Our dear Lord drawing my attention to more and more; something to work on, to pray for grace to do, to make room for a peace much deeper than the excitement of getting lost in my fantasies. It is a relaxation; a stillness; a quiet; ultimately, a letting go. What a silly creature I am, to hold so tightly to things that are out of my reach that I often fail to grasp the treasures at my fingertips. What a shame it would have been to miss out on the full joy and privilege of holding that precious baby girl, there and then, as I was, because I couldn’t get my head out of the clouds of my own future, yearning for something it isn’t time for yet. What a loss it would be to miss out on the happiness and fulfillment of being a single, unattached, nineteen-year-old girl, to take for granted my amazing family and friendships, to ignore the multitude of colorful and delightful blessings and graces God is showering me with today, all because I am too impatient and ungrateful to enjoy what I have because of what I don’t have.
One has to admit, an attitude of discontent and impatience isn’t something that’s going to leave me alone once I get whatever the next thing is I might want (e.g., the sudden appearance and pursuit of some amazing young man in my life, a clear and joyful direction towards a religious community, etc.). Say I were to meet someone and he pursues me through friendship into the most amazing courtship ever. Will I be so eager to progress into engagement that I can hardly enjoy our courtship, and even more importantly, fail to grow through it in the organic way that only patience and time make possible? Say we get to engagement and betrothal. Will I be so consumed with readiness for our wedding day that betrothal itself will feel like a period of pointless waiting? Say we get married. When will we have kids?
I’ll spare you from my going on into infinity with this example, because I’m sure you’re smart enough to get the point! But it’s really a staggering pride that demands to have what I desire now–a pride that feels as though I am entitled to, and assumes I am ready for, (name it). What do I really deserve in and of myself? And what if I have barely detected flaws and immaturities in myself that might cause me to quickly ruin or squander such a blessing for God, others, and myself? Who am I to say that I have no need to grow here and now? Who am I to say that I really know what will make me happy and fulfilled in time and eternity? These are things only God can know.
I can just hear Our Lord saying in my ear, probably in response to my What do You think?, “By taking thought, do you think you can add to your stature one cubit?”
This is one fact that the rejection of leads to such frustration in my soul, but the embrace of fills me with peace: I cannot make myself grow faster. I can only grow and develop into a woman along God’s timeline, with His perfectly-timed helps and graces, as He sees best. Yes, it takes a little humility to realize that I am still very much a girl with, I imagine, many areas in need of growth before I am vocation-ready; to admit that my desires are, though quite natural, still premature. I am still learning the lessons I began to learn at Ephesus earlier this year. I am still trying, with many ups and downs, to embrace this stage of life, as an unattached young woman transitioning from girlhood to what lies beyond. Thank goodness God is ever so much more patient than I!
The older we get, the more we become accustomed to the truth that waiting is not something one can escape in life. The older we grow in the life of grace the better we understand that waiting is not even something to be escaped, counterintuitive as that sounds in our impatient world. Waiting with willingness (in a word, patience), can easily purify and strengthen our detachment from creatures; it points us straight towards God, Who waits endlessly for our love yet never makes us wait for Him. It is our one and only road to peace in this life.
What peace we can have at every stage of life, if we can only learn to embrace patience with happiness and contentment. Of course, to do that we must let go of our discontentment and attachment to our own will. But, in a wonderful paradox, letting go of impatience is truly freeing ourselves from the misery and drudgery of waiting. When we leave ourselves behind, waiting becomes an act of love, which brings with it peace and the ability to be really grateful for all we have now, as well as whatever God wants to give us in the future.
In this detachment that only comes from patience, we can enjoy all God gives us as He meant it to be enjoyed, with the savor of love, free of the gluttony of selfishness and impatience. We are happy where we are because God is happy to be with us here; we are happy with what we have because God has given it to us in love; we are happy with waiting because God is pleased by it. Our prayer becomes the prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori: “Let me no more desire nor seek for any other pleasure than to please Thee!”
They say that you finally find the right person when you stop looking (and “they” include many people I respect very much, by the way!). I think that is a succinct way of putting what I mean: I know that I simply cannot be open to what God wants to give me in the future until I can be open to all His plan holds for me right here and now–until that is quite enough for me.
And so, here I am to say IT IS ENOUGH! I am done with the discontentment, the impatience, and the ingratitude that all go hand-in-hand with seeking myself instead of God, and which only serve to blind me to His Presence in the present. I am tired of exasperating His generosity towards me, of acting like He is not enough somehow.
I know I will stumble and have to get up and start again many times. But, once again, and with more union of mind and heart than ever before, I am ready to choose to live in patience and content and gratitude–really, to choose the happiness right here at my fingertips. I entrust to dear St. Raphael any pangs of loneliness, any dreams of babies and five o’ clock shadows, knowing that he doesn’t mind my girlish dreams, that he holds my hand, that he will take care of the details.
What a wonderful thing it is, really, to be where I am. What a wonderful thing, to be nineteen! To be a young woman! To be alive today! To know that God wants me here and nowhere else! That God wants me, and God is with me here. What a wonderful place this must be!
A blueberry pie, homemade (I really need to make a post about things I’ve been baking!
A corner of my desk, with the Child Jesus watching over my work.
My corner of the room I share with two awesome sisters, my pillow guarded by many patron saints.
My beloved Warrington, where I spiritually assist at Mass each day.
May God bless you with peace and contentment, wherever you are!
In our loving Lady,