This is also my counsel to you, strain not after tears, strive not for sentiments of devotion, do not force your heart. Rest rather in interior solitude. Dwell therein quietly, waiting until God’s will be accomplished in you. When it shall please Him to send you tears, Oh how sweet will those tears be, for it is not your impatience that has secured them: they are the fruits of humility and of peace. On your part, then you must receive them with deepest of self-effacement, allowing God to work within you. Note well, that if ever you fancy this desire or the securing of these affections to be in any measure due to yourself, you will infallibly expose yourself to the losing of them. –St Peter of Alcantara ‘Treatise on Prayer and Meditation’.
Reading, enjoying time to read assorted authors due to a lack of work, this paragraph immediately emboldened itself as vital, words to read over and over, meditating upon relevancy. God provided tears of joy driving home from Toledo, returning from a visit with my family. My son is precious, although we hardly see one another anymore. We speak and text on the phone, communicating deeply, knowing one another well. This Thanksgiving, amidst a celebration of gratefulness, I observed my son closely, marveling at the wonder God graced, deeply grateful for his presence. Late into the day, my sister, a devout demanding Christian along with my brother-in-law and their children, including their two adopted preschoolers, plus members from their nondenominational church, met my son, myself, and my son’s first serious girlfriend for a round of evening glow bowling. I have not bowled in decades, thoroughly enjoying myself, while bowling horribly. The bowling came after a lively gathering at my older brothers. I must point out the significance of my son’s girlfriend in regards to my recovery. My struggles in life occurred during the raising of my son. My twenty-five plus years of celibacy, chastity, complete inability to even attempt a romantic relationship amidst a life of severe alcoholism, I am convinced negatively affected my son. His mother told me that he spoke to her, stressing he did not feel he could love another, never commit himself to an intimate relationship. He told her he had no interest in sex. I assumed guilt, convinced I never demonstrated, or taught, my son how to interact in an adult manner regarding intimacy, the expressing of proper love between adults, an adult relationship between a male and female I never showed him. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. My life lacked love, so therefor I could not transfer such Godly maturity to my son. One cannot give what one does not possess. Committed to his career, making responsible, admirable, life choices, I venerated my son, yet watched his personal life closely; wondering–respectively granting him distance, never inquiring, allowing openness and the opportunity for him to present when he discerned appropriateness. Others questioned his lack of dating. Admiring his socially friendly and endearing responsible personality, yet noticing he never presented a romantic interest. I know many questioned his sexuality, whispering about closet homosexuality. He never gave reason for the idle gossiping speculation. Now at thirty, he presents his first romantic interest, his first serious relationship. God is good and all giving. I am stunned by the young lady. Physically beautiful, simple and humble, an unassuming devout Christian, she transfixes my entire family. Bowling, I watched her and my son, spellbound by the maturity and absolute Christian love blossoming between them. All glory to God, my son was and is authentic, sincere in his chastity, remarkable in his emotional maturity and patience in discerning a woman to present to the family. She is absolutely perfect beyond a level I imagined. My son the whole time desired mature and proper Christian affection in his life. It had nothing to do with immature lust, nor emotional squandering, nor any other sign of internal brokenness, a psychological blockage suffering an inability to love on a mature Christian level. She is quiet, easily blending in, comfortable and committed to being my son’s girlfriend. My brother and his wife, all the gathered were focused on her, and she never noticed. She is beautiful and doesn’t even know it. I plied her into conversation, offering her opinion regarding an incident I experienced earlier in the day with two young ladies, publicly cuddling, isolating themselves from group conversation, openly entertaining homosexual intimacy. She came alive, vivid in her determination that if she were present a confrontation would have occurred. No way would she sit at the table and not say something. It went beyond the homosexual issue, simply embracing proper social ethics, for even a straight couple conducting themselves in such a manner would force her disapproval and voicing of concerns of appropriateness. The maturity, intelligence, and clear distinct purpose of being astounded. The young lady knows who she is, while remaining humble, happy to go unnoticed. While bowling, I contrasted her to the other young ladies bowling. The other young ladies, self-conscious, possessed roaming eyes, always seeking attention, attempting to draw eyes upon themselves, needing to be a character and the center of attention. Evening entertainment, many were drunk, making spectacles of themselves. Leslie, thoroughly engaging, fully present for the group she came with, focused upon dignity and respect toward my son as a girlfriend. She never sought undo attention, nor did her eyes explore for young men. It was not an attempt rather a state of being. Her eyes never immaturely dallied about the bowling alley. My sister, an astute observer, snuck up behind me, whispering in my ear, acknowledging my enamored studying of the young lady. My sister remarked: “I am totally impressed. Everyone is. Do you see her social skills, her ability to interact with everyone as a young lady of Christian integrity? My friends are all asking about her. That young lady is remarkable.” I confessed to my sister, “I am astounded. God has blessed me. I am so happy and proud of Zack”. Driving home to Cleveland, on into midnight, I called my mother. She cut the conversation short, telling me, “Zack and Leslie are here. Zack has been fixing my computer while Leslie talks to me in the kitchen. I have to go Jim. Leslie is waiting for me”. I could only laugh, telling her to go to her, admiring the fact the young couple remained with my mother so late into the night. They still had a drive to Ann Arbor to complete. I realized my son has established himself as a source of strength, integrity, and Christian value within my family. It is a mature flowering coming into being after years of giving, proper behavior, loving and caring for everyone. His aunts and uncles and all his cousins he treats with absolute interest and charity. His grandmother he takes care of. The memory of his grandfather he cherishes. His mother’s side of the family receives the same respect, attention, and care. He is a young man proving himself to be a caregiver of morals and values, a provider of goodness and maturity. It is a grace I do not deserve. It is a grace he deserves. God furthers the humbling, demonstrating He is wiser and more capable than I ever imagined. God is truly good and all giving. My son offers as an example the maturity and Christian example I desire within my own life, the advanced level of male/female interaction I aspire to. God works in a truly circular manner, progressing perfection from the younger generation upward. My son presents what I know is right and proper. He demonstrates the mature ways and order of God. God is a God of order and commandments, bringing about such demands for the betterment of our lives, not as a difficult taskmaster. To live within the commandments and order is the fullness of truth, the living of a full and enriching life, the means to mature into a complete person, family, Church, and society–a genuine path to eternal life.