Thursday, February 26, 2009

How do you carry your cross?

Welcome to Lent 2009

When a conversation enables a person to catch a quick glimpse into another's window of personal intimate heart pockets, it's not surprising to find all carry a cross of some kind. Oh sure, there are usually no two ever alike and intensity levels no doubt range anywhere from light to out of this world heavy duty, depending of course on the nature of the cross composition.

A question of deep interest in my mind is;

How do you carry your cross during times of great stress or deep sorrow when afflictions almost seem so enormous, too monumentous and almost far too much to bear?

As I read and participate in offering prayer for those personal and very private intentions favorite homeschooling boards I frequent, every request presented is very important no matter how large or small it may appear to the outside reader.

Since everyone naturally tends to cope differently when issues become all too much to handle without fielding out for prayer warrior assistance, some easily begin to show emotional distraught right down their sleeve where it begins to slide to the tip of their big toe, while others seem to keep their composure and act icy cool amidst the obvious crosses they must carry. Of course both could likely be hurting inside and of course both will involve various tolerance levels before one reacts to the heaviness subsequently creating shoulder drooping moments. So, if you were driven to type such a request for others to view, just how do you try to carry your own cross then?

Today, Ash Wednesday marks the entry into the world's

best opportunity for a spiritual awakening.

Lenten Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given the human race Jesus Christ our Savior as a model of humility.

He fulfilled your will by becoming man and giving His life on the cross.

Help us bear witness to you by following his example of suffering and make us worthy to share His Resurrection.

We ask this through Lord Jesus Christ, you Son.

As a candid peak into my day, here are some heartfelt thoughts I wanted to share, not for any sympathetic replies or responses, rather simply to offer a true intimacy into the heart of someone who wants so badly to keep a smile on my face (even if there are tears in my eyes at times) even if/when uninvited crosses get the best of me, like today for instance.

I find I have a great personal desire to remain above all things open each day, intent on listening for possible holy whispers (hopefully) with sweet cheerleading messages, those accompanied by a chorus of angelic voices resounding in heavenly harmonies echoing right down into the interior canals of both ears.

I never want to be so busy as to not practice being still enough or unable to hear and listen out for possible messages sent to me by my guardian angel, who perhaps sits resting gently next to me, embracing me tenderly as I attempt to grasp their content.

I want to be open to hear, open to act, and open to accept all trials, joys, sorrows or tribulations in my life ahead, no matter the level or degree of difficulty. I may need help, but no matter what, I want to be able to say "Yes", and "Thank you" even if I may not like what I hear. Okay truth be known - maybe I won't say thank you immediately (smile), but I will pray on that so eventually I can do just that in time (and even if it might seem to take a lifetime...wink).

I want to be humble and stripped of my pride - deeply grateful in all manner, no matter how hard, no matter the multitude of forks falling from the sky to send me into a tailspin or an involuntary meltdown, just continuing to trust all which has already been ordained anyway for my good along the way.

I want to continue being able to walk the walk set before me as best as I possibly can, and please God; continue to practice what I can so easily preach to my own children. Even though it feels like my husband and I are walking through a desert of sorts right now, having recently moved to a completely new geographical area without family or friends to lean on, I want to be able to appreciate this time for what it is; a time to grow in character, in wisdom, and in heart towards that ultimate trust required through faith for the days ahead.

Today I walked up the aisle and waited like all the other parishioners for my turn when our priest would administer the black ashes from inside of his small vessel onto my forehead. While in standing in line, I happened to look up and catch a glimpse of the cross above and center on the altar. Ha! was my first instant thought! My life is so easy compared to that scene before me!

At last it was my turn and I took my place in between our two youngest children, kneeling together in unison at the altar railing. I took a deep breath to ease up on the muscles tensing up in my neck. Breathe baby breathe!

As the priest drew nearer, I submitted myself while closing my eyes, tilting my forehead way up high at the same time while gesturing into position. I could feel my brow knit together as I concentrated greatly on the meaning of this day. What timing because suddenly I also felt the sensation of our priest's thumb move gently up and down my forehead, creating the symbol and shape of the cross for me to wear. I felt a small trickle of loose ashes land on the tip of my nose. I also felt an odd and deep sense of peace wash over me like nothing else I had ever remembered this day before. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust....the reminder today was fitting on just how especially simple life really is. And yet, it almost never happened. Could it be I thought, God wanted me to respond to grace by attending mass even when I first hesitated after hearing the warning of more snow tonight and a caution warning the roads could be wet and possibly slick? Had I not realized a message was likely sent for me to acknowledge, or was I just plainly too busy with other things to keep me in another world so often filled this day by invited distractions. Dumbstruck I returned to my pew and pondered all these thoughts.

  • Could it be our Lord knew how heavy my heart felt tonight as the children and I attended mass together to leap out of the gates and into the forty days of Lent without my husband attending with us because he was in the hospital instead quite far away?
  • Could it be he just knew how badly I was missing my husband this particular day in a strange and unusual way? And that I was unknowingly bottling up much unknown and yet discovered emotion deep inside the recesses of my heart with each passing hour, that is until I was in the midst of our drive towards the church....and then it all hit me. I just missed my hubby a whole lot today. I missed not being able to call him on the phone just to distract me each crazy day this week when I so dearly needed to, or just for a moment to hear his soothing voice and tell him how much I loved him. Wouldn't you know it, two blocks from the church I felt the sting of fresh new tears well up in my eyes and an overflow trickle fall down my cheek. Yep - that was it. In the busyness of the few days since he had left to become an in-patient for week#3 - today I was really missing him a lot.
  • Could it be he knew how terribly busy my week had been thus far, continually making important lists of things demanding immediate attention in our home, multitudes of telephone calls to address pressing issues with subtrades, dealing with the snow blower that went "kaput" so the 1 ½ feet of snow still leaving me with spinning wheels in and out of our very large and long driveway. Or maybe about tending to that burnt out break light on my vehicle after almost getting clipped the other day by a bumper driver behind me seemingly magnetized to my vehicle. Or trying to figure out how to save my blog when my template changed accidentally, how come the HTML wasn't co-operating and why was it such a mess still (work in progress folks,bear with me here). Or while out driving a son to his very late night ice hockey playoff game and trying to enjoy it without being able to share the great news with my hubby around midnight last night after an overtime shift was required and the game ended still at a tie to gain another point towards the finals. Or the worst dread - finding out someone has a cold started and my hubby CANNOT get that! Oh just a few "little things" like these and more...
  • Could it be that he knew I was way out of my league today coming down off of a wild headache, completely out of my element with the remnants of exhaustion from not sleeping well this week with my hubby gone?
  • Could it be he knew I let "worry" fill my heart, and "fear" creep into my throat when I know that is not coming from trusting him at all? Could it be I lost the trust I try so dearly to have faith on?
  • Was I just filled with a miserable and brief poor-me moment, or was this all real and just not fun at all for me today? What a wimp I seemed to be already before lunchtime this day, and yet I was very clearly not able to discern and filter all the emotions until I was walking up that aisle when I realized that "I" am not in control of all of this. I can't be in control of all of this. My husband is not in control of all of this and can't be either. So what's left? I needed to resubmit to the will of God of course!

The hour is late as I type this up, probably too late again for my weary mind, heart and body badly in need of much rest. How many coffees did I drink today when the caffeine hit me and I began to babble like an idiot when I usually take decaf instead? Hmmmmm, oh dear.

Ultimately, there is only one thing I need to acknowledge and that is this day was perfect for a discovered thirst to be quenched, and for my very soul to obtain great peace. The crosses I've been carrying are huge, those my husband are carrying are greater than my own, but still nothing can be compared to the cross of Christ, the very same one he had to carry on the road to Calvary.

Sure I miss my husband and he's having his own times being away from his family while in hospital too. Sure it's been a crazy and stressful week for me. I am allowed to feel the way I did today. But there is a difference tonight. I am at peace. And I know it won't take me quite so long to drift off into dreamland here very shortly because of it.

I am not in control here, HE is and I am so very thankful for that acknowledgment right now. Oh Captain my Captain, lead me on! Oh....and thank you for allowing my knuckles not to require attention to peel them off of my steering wheel after driving home in a snow storm with our ashes intact on our foreheads......(wink)