Sunday, January 22, 2012

Overture to Carmel?

It's been a little shocking to me to realize how intricately my life has been wound around working on my CD. In one way or another, either the question or the reality of this project has been etching itself into my heart and soul for over a year. I suppose etching is one of those things one might not notice is actually happening while it happens. I mean, I did, but... It's like a sound that is constant, and all of a sudden there is silence. There's a little bit something death-like to having that part of this process be complete. And yet it is not so much a grieving type of death. It feels maybe more like the end of one movement of something and the silence before the next movement starts.

It just feels weird.

I feel like I have done everything I need to do. Yes, I have 1,000 of these puppies coming my way in a few weeks, and I will need to do what I can to sell them and reassure my husband that I have not wasted a couple thousand dollars. But already I know the money is not wasted. I did not make this CD because I think I have this amazing, stellar talent that needs attention and showcasing. Gag. I did not make this CD because of a desire to "minister to people." God does that. Really, I made this CD out of a sense of obedience to God, and out of a sense -- now I see how accurate that sense was -- that I needed this process for the salvation of my own soul.

I have no idea what happens next, and frankly if nothing much happens next other than a few people buying CDs and saying "oh, that's nice," I'm perfectly fine with that. But I know that God is doing something interiorly in me. I know it is good. So many times I get this aching sense of God doing something, I usually can't say what, but I want to say something about it. And I usually can't, so why do I try? Why? I guess because I want to understand! I want to know where I am and where I am going.

That's reasonable, right?

All I know is that my heart is very drawn to Carmel. This is not strange. The Carmelite saints have made my heart burn since the first time I met them. I was writing a paper for my Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy class on Christian Mysticism, and as I read St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, as well as Hugh of St. Victor and others, I was bowled over. My heart had longed for a place it felt at home spiritually, and even though I was in a Lutheran college and attending a non-denom fellowship, I remember dropping the book on the table and praying emphatically, "Lord, if there is anyone left on the face of the earth who lives and believes like these folks, these are the people I want to be with."

A couple of years later when I first started talking with my friend who had returned to his Catholic faith and upset my whole life by it, I asked him, "are there people around still like St. Theresa of Avila?" I expected him to say no, of course not, but he not only assured me there were but later provided me with a little book about Teresian prayer. I spent lots of time at Holy Hill during my conversion process and afterwards.

And then a couple years ago, after my parish choir started messing with my life in divine ways, St. John of the Cross seemed to start resounding in my life powerfully again, especially through the book Impact of God, which I wrote about here. And on it has gone from there. I've been in touch with the local Carmelite community. It makes sense.

Being drawn to Carmel isn't about playing around, though. I discovered, for example, that recording is hard work. It is not only singing and deciding and doing musical things, there was a lot of emotional investment and a lot of working out being free interiorly so that the music could come out. It is hard work of every sort, body, soul and spirit. And I saw my weaknesses, for example in playing guitar -- I wished I'd spent more of the last 20 years playing guitar and not getting so dreadfully rusty. (God supplied the help I needed, thankfully, for I don't need to have all abilities myself!) But hard work demonstrates the need for hard work. If one doesn't work hard, one believes it doesn't matter, and the doors that could open otherwise stay shut. I have the same sense about being drawn to the commitment of prayer. Prayer can't be about giving me warm fuzzies of one sort or another. I don't, I mustn't love God nor people in order to please myself or get happy.

Really, being drawn to Carmel is really being drawn to Christ. He has so many ways to call to us and draw us and teach us and lead us on, but the goal is all the same: union with the Blessed Trinity in Christ. Part and parcel of that is being the frail, weak and sinful human beings we are and opening ourselves to the grace which infills and transforms.

I don't know what comes tomorrow. But this is what I see today.

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