So, last week passed me by before I could get my bearings. It was the week Anna would have turned 20 and I was embattled in a war. At the time, a treasured friend suggested I share the struggle because so many are fighting this same war, but I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. The attack was from all sides, and it felt like all I could do was survive.
The war was partly with my own thoughts, urging me to seek comforts, stay busy, and not think too much. The war was partly with my own body and the mysterious internal clock that seems to know this is a momentous season, only there is nothing momentous happening. The war was partly with my own soul, left unguarded by lazy prayers and way too many distractions. It’s all fun and games until it isn’t, I guess. The war surprised me like a thief in the night, too. I wasn’t on the lookout, with all my defenses fortified. I was just suddenly paralyzed – mentally, physically, and spiritually, like a deer caught in the headlights, and it was not without consequence to my family, friends, and household.
The worst part is that in survival mode, I was lost, and it was nearly impossible to tell which way was up and out. The kids all wanted cake and to celebrate the day, but it just wasn’t happening. I wanted to post a beautiful picture of Anna’s smiling face, for the world to see and remember her with me, but it just wasn’t
happening. I wanted to be the peacemaker, the caregiver, and the joyful light in our family, but I couldn’t find the source from which to draw the strength; I couldn’t find the way.
Mercifully, our Blessed mother grabbed me by the hand and helped me put one foot in front of the other. I simply started praying the Rosary again each day… but I use the word pray loosely. Merely listening to the Rosary on podcast while trying to keep my mind focused, was more like it, at first. As I prayed, I meditated that Mary is no stranger to the fear and confusion of pain and suffering. Remember when Jesus was lost in the temple? Mary and Joseph retraced their steps back to God’s house until they found him. Step by step. One foot in front of the other. Back to God. What a journey that must have been, fraught with worry, second guessing, and fear. Perhaps there were tears, or quick tempers, or frustrations born out of the uncertainty of what lay ahead, especially since Mary has been pondering since the presentation of the Lord, the message that a sword will pierce her heart. No matter what else that journey was like, I know one thing for certain. Mary retraced those steps in Trust and in Faith, not knowing what the near future would hold.
Almost two years ago, when my grief was new and raw, I prayed constantly, incessantly, as a means of survival. There was such a deep union with God in my deepest pain, that I could no more stop praying than stop breathing. The Lord certainly is near to the broken-hearted. Yet, what about when our hearts aren’t quite so broken? That blessed union is something I’ve longed for since, but find elusive in the fading of intense suffering. How did I let go of that closeness and become scattered by life? When did my prayer life become more about obedience and Love than utter and desperate need? Unfortunately, in my humanness, my obedience and my Love is fickle. I would love to go back to that deep union, without going back to that extreme suffering. All of which leaves me in this new season of loss and grieving, where the grieving isn’t all-consuming and yet can still creep in, attack and wage war.
It’s probably too soon to understand the fullness of what the Lord is trying to teach me in this latest siege, but certainly being armed and ready with my armor on is a message I have received loud and clear. Prayer is my armor. And lest I am tempted to take a break from the weight of it, my Holy Mother is always at the ready to dress me for battle again.
Only in the absence of division is there true unity. In prayer, like my knight in shining armor, Jesus rides into my heart once again, all-conquering, and unifies. He triumphs over my confusion and disunity when I call Him to me. He unifies me in mind, body and soul, and all that is scattered for lack of Him.
The peace and union that I long for cannot happen within a house divided. Jesus alone must be the object of my every desire – heart, mind, and soul.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
Related reading: The Desert