The Taste of Failure

Posted By on July 30, 2015

My life has been habitually marked by two things. A great amount of darkness, and a savage need to chase the magical.  Though the latter often seemed to be an attempt to solve the former, it very often, if not always, backfired in some manner, or at least never turned out as hoped. When I was young, I accomplished this exploration and pursuit through copious reading, writing novels, art, music, and role-playing with friends online.  The first novel I wrote was about transforming into a magical, powerful being–but by the end of the novel, I and the main character had realized that the only place I was supposed to be was in my normal human life, just as it was then.

When I was 19 or 20 I switched from exploration with fantasy to traveling in real life. Unfortunately it was no less magical. My life became a strange whimsical pattern of this:

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I first stumbled across this picture online in 2012 right before I was about to move to Texas and get married. Yet from the time I was 20, whether I was skipping off to the convent in New York, jetting off to Washington state to go to music school, moving to Hawaii to farm, disappearing south to Texas to join the temple and marry a tattoo artist wannabe-monk, my life was a constant stream of magical vans, driven by unicorns. Inside, these opportunities felt vital, magical, important. Exciting. Dangerous, but full of hope.

They’re still driving up to me. Not every day, but usually every week. Sometimes the van is going to PARAGUAY!

paraguay

 

Sometimes to ARIZONA!

UFO, UFOs, jet, radar, alien, aliens, ET, Bonner springs, Kansas, June, 2013, News, paranormal, orb, orbs, disclosure, top secret, area 51, hackers, CNN, CNBC,, super moon, area 51, ET, arizona, 3.45 AM

 

I am, however, starting to learn not to get into vans with strange unicorns.  This is actually very hard. After I escaped Hawaii and moved back to Washington, I swore I wouldn’t go anywhere without a really good reason. Three years and many events later the magical van to Texas showed up and I got on board.  It had indeed taken the Mothership of Unicorn Vans time to hammer me back into being malleable to this, and certainly it was all part of a larger plan, but while the Mothership has not given up yet, I have a few new tools.

As I surmised but could not figure out how to apply earlier in my life, all battles are fought on the inside. Life is a spiritual combat, and one we are often losing if we are not very well prepared. The enemy, you see, is very often ourselves, our own bondage, our own whims.  In response to this I was a fan of forging myself anew, practicing various diets, disciplines, religions, in attempt to gain mastery and make a thing of perfection out of the thing that I was. No destination was too far, no task too challenging, in pursuit of this goal.

When my life and hopes became thoroughly destroyed despite my advanced application of (and success with!) these disciplines, I was faced with the sudden terror that I couldn’t do it by myself. I couldn’t control myself nor could I control people doing things to me or things happening around me that could destroy everything I held dear.

 “Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

How is that even done? This is where one must make an appeal to God, to achieve the grace to live a new spiritual life.  This was a thing which I thought I had been doing, and thought I had been having success at.

Then I learned I wasn’t.

I’m still shaking in my shoes every day. But I have one or two things left to me. I have my reason, which can observe cause and effect.  I have some grace enabling me to indeed distrust myself and stay firm despite suffering.  And finally I have someone to tell me what to do, who after months of suspicion and observation I learned to trust was a very holy person who clung to a foundation that would not lead me astray.  Thus the thing holding me back now from hopping on all these vans is obedience.

My confusion on this matter of the interior life and reformation of self is great and so I cannot rely on myself.  I have spent a long time in my life being obedient to what, it was later made clear, were the wrong forces.  Oddly enough, I get a strange sense of relief from not having to make my own decisions. Obedience is an earned thing, and perhaps a grace. I have been a strong-willed rebel most of my life, working on my own inspiration.

The times when I dabbled in the virtue of religious obedience and the observance of a fixed rule, the darkness would clear and I would be as happy as ever I have been. But then something terrible would happen and I would have to give it up. I was happy in the Episcopal convent when I was 20–but I had to leave. I was happy being a Hare Krishna under a guru with a husband–but my husband left me and the faith and took all my money, and I lost all power to keep the rule despite every effort.

Wrong place, wrong time… terrible things happened and I could not reconcile the lack of peace and strength and empowerment in my situation… who knows? So I am back in the Catholic Church, to my great relief, as swarms of saintly Christians practice patience and humility like no other, but often to my great suffering, and I am under obedience again, and despite all this verbiage I have wasted space with, it limits me to one task, merely one task, but this is the hardest task in the whole world.

Stay in the present moment.

A place of DARKNESS, TERROR, and CONFUSION. Every moment spent in it I long to escape. To find a solution. To see what looks good and make it happen. Yet doing ANYTHING right now in this mindset is somehow all wrong. The timing is all wrong for me to be able to go into religious life, my bestest buddy Justin is disappearing forever to go into religious life (lucky mook, he got all his debts paid off, thanks be to God), I work in a career that stresses me terribly and injures me often if I am not careful, I am daily challenged by my own fears and limitations living in a community, I work/volunteer under a difficult personality, I find myself connecting more with people who do not share my aspirations to living a spiritual life, I have this escapist problem into fantasy and computer games, I cannot get out of bed far too many days. The blessings and challenges of my life are certainly unmatched. I am very well off in so many ways, I have everything I need to deal with my sufferings and problems and yet I still feel overwhelmed. I wonder minute by minute what will even become of me.

Hence the spiritual combat. To stay faithful, to stay in a state of grace, to do my duty, and do as I am told. I am hopeful, most days, that this program will bear some fruit, but my urgency to take things into my own hands to try and fix them is offset only by my copious experience of terrible things inevitably happening to me when I do this.

Already writing this I doubt the whole thing.

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But DRIVE ON, unicorn, I am sticking this one out.

By the way, I see what you were trying to hide my view of back there.

 

 

A New Look

Posted By on June 26, 2015

On request I have removed all photos and references to a certain individual very dear to me from this blog. The wisdom of this move is not for me to decide on… mostly I did it as a favor.

The Legacy of an Old Friend

Posted By on May 5, 2015

“There are two kinds of men who can be called rational: those who serve God with their whole lives because they know Him, and those who seek God with their whole lives because they do not know Him.” – Paschal

Justin Leedy is a dear old friend of mine… I met him when he was in college at Gonzaga, in late 2007, early 2008, living a grandiose worldly life.  I was privileged to observe my friend Justin, with great grace, fortune, and dedication, remake his whole life in the consideration of spiritual things. On a similar journey myself, as always, I followed Justin’s impassioned advocacy right into the Catholic Church. He taught me how to say the rosary, and shared with me over the years the great bounty of his diligent prayer, and study of the saints, the desert fathers, Thomistic philosophy and Church teaching.

I have been, of course, on many ridiculous adventures, heavily in and out of different religions and spiritual practices. Even after coming into the Catholic Church, I left again to join the Hare Krishnas in my hungry search for discipline, austerity, and the tangible reality of the spiritual in everyday life. I was happy that Justin stayed solid, because when horrible, terrible, nightmarish things inevitably happened to me, he was able to point me to people–Catholic priests, in fact, to my curious awe and chagrin–that seemed to have extreme sorts of powers of healing, stability, and deliverance. I figured after some time of grief, conflict, and acceptance, that I was thoroughly, through the avenues of peace, provision, and love, being forced back to the Catholic Church, so I went. Not unhappily, though the challenges have been many.

Meanwhile Justin’s spiritual journey has continued faithfully… he was accepted to a Benedictine monastery in Norcia, Italy, and began to work nonstop to raise funds to pay off his student loans.

GOOD OL’ LEEDY! I’m very happy for him even though I hardly get to talk to him these days! I did get to see him on a week-long visit to Idaho last December, and meet his whole wonderful church family and sing in the choir at St. Joan of Arc. Justin is really involved over there, sings in the choir and the Men’s Schola, and also lives and works at the Imago Dei Institute of Psychotherapy, helping to put together formation programs, a farm, and other fun tasks.

If you would like to help him out or hear more of his story, you can do so through his website here.

In the meantime, have some silly pictures from our week-long trip in the summer of 2010 to the Benedictine sisters of Our Lady of the Rock on Shaw Island. We had a lot of fun playing with llamas and baby cows, chanting the Divine Office in Latin with the sisters in their beautiful chapel, pulling out our musical instruments (or voices) to jam at the guest house, and teaming up with the other guests to do farm projects and have meals together.

 

 

Many are the Children of the Desolate

Posted By on May 5, 2015

The day was oddly cool for the season, even as the sun waxed higher in the sky. And me in flip-flops with no hat. Scarf, but no hat. It was fortunate indeed that the day was breezy and cool. The situation that had propelled me on this pilgrimage of a hike, across the interstate, up and down long grass and hills, fording two streams, walking on a terrifying highway bridge to cross a much larger river, seemed to me like one that my sense of self-preservation and terror had overreacted to, despite my having trauma with those sorts of triggers.

Along the hike my mind was occupied with placing my feet, finding the rather unwalkable route betwixt lanes of roaring traffic and fenced off gullies, with the occasional two-block jaunt through a nice residential neighborhood before I was climbing the next hill. I didn’t feel bad or even panicky, so long as I was out of the reach of the people who had caused my upset. I shook my head. There was SOME reason for this excursion, some greater plan for it that I knew nothing of. My flip flops kept coming apart, but between putting them back together and going barefoot, I was not making bad time. Had I planned this excursion, I would not be in flip flops. Nor without a hat.

I was on a MISSION… well, just to get to church. Eventually I did get there, after about three and a half hours of walking. Despondent, I took another three and a half hours to lay in a stupor half in the sun, wrapped in my chaddar, trying to get warm and feel less nauseous.  No one was ever around on Mondays, so I had a lot of time to think. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about. My brain felt in a slow fog, that circled from a strange kind of waiting confusion to outright anxiety and conviction, once again, that I didn’t belong here, that I should’ve been a Hare Krishna, where people lived more ordered and sane lives. Of course there was no food, but I took several trips to the water fountain to ease my aching head.

Five hours later I creeped my way into the church. The May crowning of Mary had occurred just yesterday–it had been glorious, I had been singing in the choir, and we had a long procession where we sang a litany and many hymns to Mary. The tenderness and sweetness of such a loving expression still filled the little Mary altar, overflowing with fragrant flowers of all types. The statue of her stood there with the wreath of flowers upon its head. I sat down in the front pew. I was still stupefied. I went in and out a few times, but achieved no more success either at praying or feeling any clarity on anything.

Presently I noticed that someone else had come into the church after me. Peeking back, I saw it was a priest–but one I had never seen before. We had three priests at our church, and being members of the Fraternity they always wore long black cassocks. This priest had on only a white collar and a black suit. He poked around the back of the church a bit, walked the aisles praying his office… I gave him a few glances, but then just continued sitting by the flowers. Who was he? Why had he come HERE to pray–as a priest didn’t he have his own church to pray in? Questions to which I had no answer didn’t bother me much.

A little while, and he left… but not before calling out to me, “Excuse me–” I turned around.  “Would you please pray for me?” he asked. “Father Gabriel.”

“Okay,” I said. He thanked me and left. Thinking little of it, I turned around and looked at the altar again. I hadn’t been able to pray at all for the past two days, and expected no more success now–but suddenly inspiration and consolation filled me and I found pouring from my heart every heartfelt thanksgiving, and petition for Father Gabriel’s help and hope, sentiments I could not have dreamed up five minutes ago. Of course I went with it–how exciting. I prayed for him for some time and then, when I finished, my previous dryness immediately returned.

I was too tired to care much, but the incident made me ponder. Truly the grace to pray is one given by God, for without His aid we have no power of our own to reach Him or even to speak to Him. He must, I thought, be proving this to me by allowing these various torments and the non-functionality that so frustrates me. Here, however, He proves to me that He can give it back in a moment should He so desire.

O fickle diety!

Still, as I sat there, I was soothed, peaceful. The colorful fragrant flowers felt like a sweet embrace, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the altar. Here HE was. Some vestiges of the love I had always had for Him there with us in the Blessed Sacrament, for the Mass, perked up a bit. How wonderful it was of Him to care so much for his ministers, the priests consecrated to act in His person for the benefit of the whole world.

I went back outside to sit for a while. A friend of mine showed up, who I had been texting during the day. “Hi there, you crazy lady,” she said to me, and, telling me to eat already, unlocked the kitchen for me.

I set to this exhausting but by this time highly necessary task.  After this tiring repast, forty-five minutes later, I wandered out to stare at the bulletin board. As always, a large poster advertising the seminary was displayed prominently. On it were the photographs of all the current seminarians–I found myself absorbed with staring at each of their faces. All of them such ordinary looking men, features of all shapes and sizes, nothing physical remarkable at all… yet to me each one of them glowed. Those smiles for the camera were telling me excitedly, “This is my body–my life–given up for you and for many.”

The harvest is plentifulbut the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. …

I went back outside to meet my two friends. Father Gordon had just returned from a hike (Monday being his day off), and we all chatted for a while. I told them about Father Gabriel and my experience with praying for him. Father Gordon seemed to suddenly have attention for this story, looking at me–

“You see,” I said, “I have realized today that God does as He wishes with us, and it’s not even that I’ve done anything, but He is doing His own purpose torturing me!”

“No,” he said, “the reason I was taken aback… is that… it seems you may have a vocation to pray for priests.”

“There’s something I’m supposed to do…” I said. “That’s good news.”

Quite confidently he then quoted to me Isaiah 54:1…

“Give praise, O thou barren, that bearest not: sing forth praise, and make a joyful noise, thou that didst not travail with child: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband, saith the Lord.”

“Hey, yeah!” I said. “It’s the way it was arranged; there won’t be any children for me, because my husband ran off…”

“Not physical children,” he agreed, “but so many more SPIRITUAL children.”