Happy New Year!
I am beginning this year, in one aspect at least, in the same way I began 2010, and that is with a 54-day rosary novena. In 2010 I had a pressing spiritual question, and I wanted light to understand the question. Of course at the time I had no clue where I was headed. The technical way I framed this spiritual question at first now seems like pointless chaff, so quickly was it blown away. It doesn't really matter though how one frames ones questions as long as one prays, because God has a way of blowing away the froth and uncovering the heart of the matter. And as long as we don't panic at being denuded He will get the job done rather quickly.
In a short time I found that I was heading far away from my technical question, out into new places. Sort of like Abram heading out from Ur. I could trace the path all the way from that first rosary on January 1, 2010 up to today. The Lord has given me so much. I see that. He floods me with blessings, and I have come to recognize them. Four years ago I would not have recognized His blessings. How patient the Lord is with my refusals. A short list from just the most recent hours: the experience of helplessness, failure of human help to materialize, my own long hours of best efforts being for naught, having to wait, a reminder of rejection, physical exhaustion, financial strain... these, and more, experienced with a deep sense of the presence and grace of God calling me to not only rely on Him, and to know precisely that these actually are goods coming from His hand.
Life is rough sometimes. I went through a really bleak stretch between 2012 and 2013. I see that the most important and the most valuable thing is to continue to pray, continue in relationship with God no matter what. No matter what it feels like, no matter what happens, and regardless of one's ability to make sense out of anything. Keep praying. I actually found my prayer expanding, which seems ironic but I imagine that is actually the plan.
See, that reminds me of something else. The closer one draws to God the more one realizes the truth that God really does not only have "a" plan for my life, He has "the" plan. In a mysterious way that by no means excludes my free will, creativity or responsibility, God is my designer. He knows my purpose through and through. I do not make myself; He makes me. I want to be fully alive, totally and completely. The closer I come to Him, the more I experience that. "Trying to find and do God's will" too often makes stiff, frightened and frightening creatures out of people. So often it is more about conforming to whatever "good, religious" social pressure one can attach oneself to -- all the while mercilessly criticizing those outside that fake attachment -- more than anything that has to do with the reality of God. There is so much that is right about the rejection of religion as many people experience it. God is so very real; again, if we are not afraid of the denuding, He will show us what is fake and dead in our religious experience and cause it to drop away.
So, here I am with the 2014 rosary novena to start the year. It is the one where for 27 days I ask for certain graces and then for 27 days I thank the Lord for having granted them. I am praying for a particular person and for all who share a similar need. I woke up on Christmas morning with the experience of this need right smack in my heart, or perhaps I should say spirit. It was like waking up with a wrapped gift next to me in my bed in the sense that I felt immediately this thing that was not actually a part of me. I wondered for just a moment to whom this might belong, and then made the connection, and then sensed that this meant a new rosary novena. All of this took less than 30 seconds from entering consciousness that morning. This is often how I receive and interpret directives or signs. The fact that I did not forget the exchange 30 minutes later also helped. And if it is all nothing more than my imagination, will it hurt to pray a 54 day novena? God looks at our intentions, and He knows how I'm made, so I don't worry myself over making a mistaken novena (although I would have, once upon a time)!
And now, too, I have a purpose and intent with my prayer. I fully expect that I have no idea, really, why I am setting out to pray this, and what I love about living the Christian life is that I realize how little I know. Every day we are just waking up and beginning.
Thanks be to God simply that I can straggle along with His motley crew of followers!