The Fatigue/Lethargy of Life
Grace is everywhere, it can be seen working in the hearts of many men and woman, who may not have faith, but seek to relieve the suffering of those they encounter.—BrMD.
“I do not measure time as men measure it, nor do I judge the intensity of suffering as men do. I know what I am doing, even when I hide My plans from men in order to test their faith in Me, and cause that faith to grow strong and indomitable. There are, alas, many souls who, in There are, alas, many souls who, in their hour of suffering, stop believing. They lose their faith in Me, and descend into hopelessness, and even despair. To rise from their suffering, they have only to make the smallest act of faith; it will dispel the darkness and lift them out of their despair. A little act of faith is immensely powerful; it is a spark of fire and of light in the vast cold darkness of sin and disbelief”.
A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (pp. 242-243). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.
It was just five minutes before Vespers (our 5:20 evening prayer), when my phone buzzed me. I answered, and one of our employees alerted me that there was a woman out front who seemed stranded, and perhaps out-of-it. It is always difficult knowing what to do, or how to help such a person, so I can understand our employee calling me. Though I did sigh to myself; “Perfect timing, just before Vespers”.
As I was walking out front to see her, I asked the Lord to help me to be kind, and to listen to the woman that I was about to meet. As I age, I am learning that my energy reserve is much less than when younger, and I have to modulate how I talk or react. I have learned from this experience about the power of prayer, and my need for grace to help me to just get through the day. Fatigue is a close companion to me at this stage of my life, and it, of course, has an effect on all areas of my monastic life. Even when young and in good shape, fatigue was an issue, though much less then, than now
As I was getting closer to her I could see that she was a small woman, under a hundred pounds, and dressed in a long dress, and she had a shawl wrapped around her shoulders. I introduced myself to her, and she told me her name was ‘April’. She was shy, afraid, tired, and I guess hungry. I had to ask her some pointed questions because I was sure that she was stranded. Our retreat house is full this week, and we had no room for her at this time. So I found out that she was dropped off her by a well-intentioned Elder from a local Church, and at the same time, wondering what was the elder thinking, just dropping her off her without letting anyone know. I was thankful that our employee called me.
She told me that she was on disability, had an apartment, but was afraid to go back because she did not feel safe. She had a little bit of money as well. She left everything else at her apartment. As we talked, I told her that I can do something for her, short term, but she would need to get help for her problems at her apartment complex. She asked me how she could get help. Well, I responded, call the police and let them know what is going on in your life. She was at first afraid when I told her to do that, but I assured her the police here in Conyers would listen to her and hopefully be able to get some help over the issue of her feeling unsafe. I have always found the police in this area, kind and considerate of those they deal with.
She was so tired. We are not an agency so I usually help once, we can’t afford to do much more than that. So I told her I could get her into a motel for a few days, and give her some money for food, but she will have to start seeking help from other sources.
I called one of our other employees and she came over and took her to the motel, and stopped off to buy her some food. I always feel so helpless over these kinds of situations, which are way too common. Knowing my limitations can be frustrating, but also it protects me from actually making things worse for those who come out here for help. I always ask them not to tell anyone that I helped them, and for the most part it seems to be working. If too many came out, I would not be able to do much, if anything for them. We do have a food bank here for 3 surrounding counties, but we can’t afford to pay rent, etc. most of the time.
The woman had faith and she told me that her relationship with Christ Jesus was her lifeline. Those who do not have faith, and because of that do not pray, do not understand that they are depriving themselves of a true foundation to stand on, and to work from. However, faith is not a placebo to make life better. The soul is real, grace is everywhere, and God's presence is there with all. It is in our opening up our hearts in trust that make all the difference. All we need do is to get through the day.
It sounds pious I know, but when speaking with those who have faith, you soon find that there is a difference in how they face life. The do it without falling into some of the more destructive addictions. Which are so common. No matter where we look, we will find the ‘Cross’, that we each must carry, it is part of living in this world. Some crosses are heavier than others, but each has the strength with the help of grace to get through this day, this hour. As a Christian, I seek to not to make that cross heavier by my own fatigue and weariness.
I have found that when one prays to have one’s heart expanded, the Lord will answer, yet with that comes the knowledge that without that grace, I would not in any way be loving towards those who draw out my weariness. Yet with love, comes a certain species of suffering. I have learned I can’t change anyone, nor save anyone, but I can with the help of God’s grace, be loving. When I fail, I just begin again. I believe that all Christians are called to that, without exception. To seek to grow in love of God and others, and when failure comes, to simply repent, and take the next step. For we are all poor, and in need of God’s grace. Grace is everywhere, it can be seen working in the hearts of many men and woman, who may not have faith, but seek to relieve the suffering of those they encounter.
Let me see your countenance
Help me Lord to see you in others,
to exclude no one,
the rich, the poor,
the heathy and the sick,
you dwell in the hearts of each,
perhaps hidden from many,
who have yet to discover your presence,
yet let me see your countenance
on their faces, and your light
in their smiles.—Br.MD