Dear Jesus--What Now?
Hi. It’s so nice to meet you again for what seems like the 10,000th time. What is it about going on a retreat where I feel like we’re starting all over again. Everything is different. Why is it that after a retreat food tastes different, the air feels different, the very idea of trying to imagine what you thought about life 48 hours ago is like trying to remember someone else’s memories.
Why do you allow us so many resets? So many little conversions? With all of these new insights into both YOU and my own complicated heart I can’t put myself back in the mindset of 48 hours ago when I arrived—tired, surviving, but generally happy. Thank you, by the way, that was no way to live! While my outlook on life, on prayer, on You may be fresh and new and my old mindset forgotten, the scars of the past still remain.
It’s like we’re shedding our skin. Same creature still there, but the old skin is gone. Our innards are the same, but outwardly a change is apparent. Only technically our innards are different… this analogy needs some work. But you know what I mean, because you made us this way. Each new truth entering our lives gives us an opportunity for recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.
We only have to say YES to that truth. And say you’re right—I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Why does that take so much courage and humility to say? Because (obviously) if we had thought of this new insight before we would have changed our outlook on this or that years ago. Retreats, significant times of silence, an excellent talk, a chapter of a book, a conversation with a friend, an inspired homily, actually bothering to dust off our Bibles and read the Gospel all offer us opportunities to take a step closer to you. These provide ah-ha moments when we’re sitting in the muck with the prodigal son discussing the weather with the other pigs and realize—wait—My Father’s house… that’s where I’d rather be! And we get up and head home. And You won’t be stamping your foot on the front porch with your arms crossed. Even while we’re along way off you see us and come running to us. You run the rest of the way. We just have to stand up.
My dad tells a story about how he went to the beach with some co-workers when he was a young man. One of the guys panicked and believed he was drowning (alcohol may have been involved). He splashed around screaming for help… and my dad walked over and pulled him up—because as it turns out, the water was only about waist deep. So often we think we’re drowning, but we just need to relax, cry out to the Father, and He will give us a hand—help us to stand up—and show us that we are in fact only in a kiddie pool—when we thought we were drowning in the ocean.
But Lord, what do we do with these insights? These moments. These life-altering AH-Has! Because whether we’re leaving a retreat, closing a book, or returning to the pew after communion… we tend to forget. Or we get complacent. Or we return to our lives and life rips the insight right out of our hands.
You could pray.
Oh. Pray, you say? Right. Can you remind me how that goes again?
Let me love you.
Hmmm… I don’t know about that last one.
Let me love you.
Aren’t there some books I can read? Oooh how about a rosary? Your mom would love that.
Let me love you.
I… um… fine.
…are you done yet?
…how about now?
Shhh. Let me--
Love me? Are you sure? I still have a lot of work to do.
I know… like learning to be still and let me love you.
Thank you, Jesus!
Thank you for just wanting to love me.
Thank you for convincing me that I don’t have to be perfect for you to love me. That my weakness, my inner poverty, did I mention weakness? is an opportunity for your grace and your love and your arms to draw me close to you.
Thank you for restart #13,931
Let’s do it again tomorrow,
All my love, my body, my soul, my everything,
For you Jesus.
P.S. St. Therese, Sister Claire, and Mama Mary, pray for me & all the ladies I was blessed to journey with this weekend.