So, here we are in Lent, one of the great metaphors for which is "the desert". I've been thinking about that a lot today, especially in regard to my individual journey. As a mother, there are times I do (and rightly should) bring my children along on my journey and times when my husband is with us as well. Sometimes, though, it's a solitary thing. Even if I can be selective about my companions on the journey (sometimes) I can't always shut out the whole world while I seek the desert of Lent. It is a struggle I face daily.
Pope Francis, in his Sunday homily...
"The desert is the place where you can hear the voice of God and the voice of the tempter. In the noise and confusion this cannot be done; we can only hear superficial rumors. Instead in the desert we can go deeper, where our destiny, life or death, is really played out. And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in His Word."
It's a "coincidence" (ahem) that I would come across this today since I have been very attuned since, say, 3 AM to the sounds in my world. My beloved, sweet muffin that he is, suffers from extreme nasal dryness. If you happen to have a spouse that is in the same fix, you know what I was doing at 3 AM...offering it up until the anxiety and anger started getting the better of me, at which time I switched on the sound machine, rolled over and prayed that I would fall asleep. I eventually did.
That brought us to 7 AM. Time to wake up and escort #1 to daily Mass. She was scheduled to serve today and, since there was a 2-hour-delay at school, I knew she would be the only one. She was up and ready to go by 7:15 so we headed out and she served well. It was good for me to be with her to hear the voice of God in His word. In today's Gospel we hear how Jesus teaches His followers to pray the "Our Father". One of the earliest prayers you learn, it is ripe with meaning. Our pastor did a great job with his homily, touching on the importance of "Thy will be done". So it is in the desert. We are here to grow closer to God and attempt, in our humanness, to follow His will. I love the sound of my littlest ones reciting "Thy will be done" while in my heart I pray that they find strength and comfort in that phrase throughout their lives.
After that came Catechesis for two of the littler ones. I love it because now, during the time they are there, Adoration is offered in the chapel next door. It is one of the times that I get to follow the pope's advice and go deeper in the desert to listen. In the midst of my prayer I smiled to myself when I heard a very distinctive sound...that of rosary beads being unfurled. How comforting to know I am in that place. While at my solitary prayer, a reminder that others are with me who support and share my journey.
Home to feed and teach and then back to the streets. I felt called to the vigil today and so I went. Driving over the bridge and seeing the river, about 80% frozen, I realized I was about as far from a desert as possible. I found a parking space and walked up to hear Deacon Dan and others singing the Divine Mercy chaplet. What a beautiful sound in such a dire place. We have begun reciting this at home as our evening family prayer and it is so beautiful. Simple and powerful. Easy enough for a child. How blessed we are to have such a tool.
Then, over the next hour, another sound. The clank of the doors opening and closing. Allowing women and their escorts in and out. Some to find information. Today, being Tuesday, many to rid themselves of their current difficulty, not realizing their anguish will only begin today. The sharp awareness of hearing the story of the shift manager who offered a young woman an alternative to save her baby only to be met with a short, bright, "too late". This must be a renewal of Jesus's agony in the garden. How it must hurt him to hear the callousness with which we view the gift of life.
Finally, the sound of my body. I decided to do a liquid fast for the first two meals today in offering for the unborn since I didn't think I would make it to the vigil. Having only water and coffee on board, the pain of the cold slowly overtook my extremities. By the time the deacon was finishing the last Station, my fingers were too painful to bend. My body calling out for relief. What a small pain compared to that of Him who was nailed up and died for us. Still, small as it was, it was offered for the women who sought the only solution they could see today. Offered that, when they realize their tragic mistake, they might turn with regret to Him who shows us all Divine Mercy.
Hearing His call through our desert of noise can sometimes be difficult. The dark one is always there to confound and muddle what we know to be true. So, one last thought from the Holy Father that might help you hear more clearly...
We are blessed.