Identity is important
January 25, 1937. Today my soul is steeped in bitterness. O Jesus, O my Jesus, today everyone can add to my cup of bitterness. It makes no difference whether they be friend or foe, they can all inflict suffering on me. And You, O Jesus, are bound to give me strength and power in these difficult moments. O Blessed Host, support me and seal my lips against all murmuring and complaint. When I am silent, I know I shall be victorious (Diven Mercy Diary)
There are days when I feel like my mind is a hornet’s nest of thoughts, fears, and self-pity. There is not often a trigger, at least, not one that I can point out. It is something that propels itself up from my deep unconscious. When I allow this situation to overwhelm me I do in some respects drown in it and the outer world is painted with these irrational fears and emotions.
I have learned from a young age, that it is best not to allow these inner ‘demons’ to control how I act on the outside. When young I have no doubt that I did repress a lot and only let what I could handle to the surface. Repression does serve a purpose, a good one for it can keep one more or less even-keeled. Yet there comes a time when what is kept under lock and key needs to be dealt with.
Identity is important. What I think I am, what I am made of etc. I do believe that the reason the Lord has always bugged me, never leaving me alone is because for some reason I am very fragile in many ways that are often hidden from others. As well as from myself. I have learned not to really identify with any of the deep swimming ‘leviathans’ that dwell in my unconscious. I also believe that this is common for most people. There are just many ways to deal with them. We call it self-medication. The only problem with that is that there can be no growth, or maturity gained because we need to learn to deal with what “lies underneath”. It is a rough ride, but the ride gets even more raucous if we do not learn to deal with it.
The inner journey for me, and I guess for most people who seek God, come to the realization that this is a lifelong task. It gets easier only because there is some sort of deep healing that allows one to stay afloat. Being open to the transcendent invites this inner struggle because we learn that none of us are alone in this, and that the Infinite Mind gives us grace and strength, as well as the ability to trust. Trust can lift us up over the waves and we learn to listen to the “voice of God’ and not to our own inner compulsive ramblings.
I have come to realize that each of us even if not believed, is a beloved child of God. The love of self, my love of myself is not a straight shot but one the go left and right, and sometimes down the middle. Yet it is grace that keeps me more or less on track. This is because I have to use my ‘will’ to ‘choose’ to trust and move forward, no matter my inner climate.
One mystic was told by the Blessed Mother “that each human being is an entire universe before God” I believe this points to the dignity and worth of every human being and why Jesus told us to love as the Father does. It is grace, freely given that allows that.
One day when a young monk, perhaps in my early 30’s, I was taking a stroll slowly saying my Rosary, when suddenly a deep silence enveloped me and a voice said: “Mark, my son, how can you fear when surrounded by so much beauty”? That did cause me to pause, and I have never forgotten that very simple message. From God? From myself? Both are right I believe.
I do know that at the ripe ‘old’ age of 72 I am more and more noticing beauty in the simplest things around me. A plant, or animal, our fountain in our cloister garden, and then the beauty of people. So growth is slow, perhaps it was that little exchange that planted the seed for my appreciation of beauty to slowly grow over the decades.
Life is good, the journey necessary and very rough, but trust is always an alternative to bitterness and despair. It is a choice, an often hard one, for it is easier to allow the negative to overwhelm us. Yet once we take deep root in God, we begin to find the strength, the will to continue and not to give up. Then we become real pilgrims.-Br.MD