What lies beneath
March 20—Holy Hour. “You are worried about the passage from this life to the next? But since it is the greatest proof of love that you can give Me, be glad. Offer your death to Me now with complete detachment, ready even for heroism. Say, ‘Even if I didn’t have to suffer death, I would choose it in order to be more one with Him.’ And in this way you will give Me the greatest glory a creature can give his Creator. Oh, precious death of the saints that echoes even in the heavenly courts of the Father’s Home!
Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 2842-2846).
Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition
Tony, a good friend of mine of many years, called me on my phone and asked me in a very quiet tone to come up to where my brother (David) was staying. I could tell by the sound of his voice that there was something wrong, so I rushed upstairs to see what was going on. I found my brother sitting on a couch in the hallway of our retreat house, gasping for air. My first thought was that he was having a heart attack. I called 911 at once, and they were there within 10 minutes, since it could have been a life, or death, situation. Well, it was not his heart, but his condition was serious and they had to intubate him, so that his body could rest. To say the least, this was not a pleasant experience for me, but thank God my brother was sedated for the procedure, and now, has no memory of it at all.
The ICU at Rockdale Hospital is well run, and the care given, is very good. Since I was not sure that my brother would make it or not, I stayed the night in the ICU. David’s children were notified and they were all coming the next day. His daughter Sarah, was in Mexico, on vocation. His oldest son, Darshan, was a pilot and was in Brazil, and Mark, the youngest boy, who just had his first child, hurried to come up. He has great children, all of them intelligent, independent and have a good relationship with David. I was also able to talk to Sherry, his wife for 12 years.
There was one other person in the waiting room with me, a middle age woman. We talked a bit, but then she went to lie down on a couch, and went to sleep. I read for a while, but fatigue got the best of me. So I got a cushion from a chair, put up my hood, from my hoddie, and laid down on my back. When I did that, as I tried to quiet my mind and pray, I became aware of a deep chasm of fear, a dark place, which seemed to have no destination, but just more darkness, nothingness, fear and pain. This dread sometimes overtakes me. When working in the Infirmary here at the Monastery, it would sometimes come when I was sitting with a dying member of my community. So this is not something new, but I went with it, observing where it would take me.
It led me to a place of ‘terror’. Where all of life seemed to lead only to ‘this place’, a place where everything was reduced to absolute ‘nothingness’. It was like a bottomless ocean, black, hungry, and never satisfied, it always wanted more life to swallow up. As I sank deeper, I begin to pray, and to make a choice, to trust in the process of life, and not to give in to believing that absurdity had the last say on what human life is all about.
I went back to seeing my brother confused, afraid, and in pain, and then I saw the face of Christ Jesus, being with my brother, suffering with him, accompanying him. This did not make me feel better, but made me aware of the intimacy that God has with us. We all will suffer, we will all die, some of us in ways that will be truly terrible, others it will be fast, yet, it seems that death has the finale answer. I can understand why many people believe this to be true. Also why they may think that my faith is a way to avoid that awful truth. I thought about my brother, whom I love very much, dying. Then I thought about Sissy, Skip, and Jane, my siblings, who have died over the last four years……this truth had to be embraced. Yet despair does not have to be the outcome. Faith does not take away from the seeming meaninglessness of life, nor does it lessen suffering, but the Christian message is that God is truly with us on all levels. God’s intimacy closer to us than our very breathe.
In that dark inner ocean, there was a small light that appeared in the depths, I could barely see it, but that is what faith is about. To seek the light, choose to believe, and to open ones heart to paradox. If I live long enough, I will have to say goodbye to my six living siblings, or I could be next. It does not matter, whatever happens, I will have to go through it. My own death, or the death of my beloved brothers and sisters. Yet faith gives me hope, hope leads to deeper love, and charity is the fruit of such endeavors.
I have friends without faith of any sort. They, like everyone else, have to find ways to deal with it. it is important to be honest in our search, and not to be lazy , but to face life, for no matter my faith, life can still ‘suck’, on a very deep level. Yet it is also wondrous, for here we choose to love, to forgive, to get up, and yes, to allow faith to take deep root. It is all grace. I pray for all of my loved ones, knowing that the love that I have experienced from God, is the same, but unique, for everyone. Such is the Christian message, that God really is love, and seeks us all, up to the last minute of our lives.
One reason I believe I choose ‘hope’, is I have come to the conclusion, at least for me, that to give in to a sort of ‘nihilism’ is something easy to do, it is just the way I am. I do think that is why as a very young child, I would panic over the thought of a lake, or cliff, which led to an abyss, without a bottom. I would go into a sort of shock over such a thought. When I was 7, my parents took us to one of the cave-tours when we lived near St. Louis. When we came to an inner lake that had lights in it that seemed to led to a bottomless, cold, pit, I went into a panic, and my parents had to take me out. —Br.MD
“Do not speak ill of the paradox, passion of thought: the thinker without paradox is like the lover without passion, a great mediocrity” Soeren Kierkegaard....