My solitary chapel of new assignment was not so solitary today. In fact, it was full, only one chair providing. Sitting in prayer, I realized others would soon be approaching, one in particular marking in distinction. Not to be strange, yet the first time I saw her, suddenly looking over in church, I knew she would play a part in my life. I am leery regarding letting others in. Ramona took off angry, upset I would not push Carter regarding his refusal to house Luke. I prayed on matters before approaching Carter, determining his decision would be the will of God. Right or wrong, I discerned God was asking Ramona to relinquish control, to make sacrifices and accept the travesty of her homelessness. To move in with Carter and I, as if everything was okay, God could not abide. I challenged her a bit in a text, asking her to grasp the severity of her homelessness, accepting responsibility, advising her to find a shelter for Luke, to give away that which she was convinced she could not live without. She exploded in a tirade, screaming I had no right to judge her. I did not know her. I meant nothing to her and that spiritually I was corrupt and predatory in dealing with her. She was convinced I was seeking only to control and dominate her. It all seemed bizarre and burdensome. I can only imagine she has chosen to go off living in her vehicle, so my prayers are centered upon her. I am relieved to be alone, looking forward to Massachusetts, holding lightly to the summer vacation in Spain, while centering myself firmly within prayer. I will be leery, while tuned to the voice of God, regarding fellowship at St Clare. Single people, those unable to establish intimate adult relationships, in reality individuals playing at life and spiritual endeavors, scare me profoundly. Recognizing the single life is a vocation, I am convinced few are called by God to such a life. The proliferation of individuals unable to establish a family unit within their life is not a call from God, rather a generational breaking down of civility, a selfishness centering individuals within brokenness and lacking. The mortifying where-with-all to humble one’s self in the manner of Joseph and Mary, or to give one’s self to a consecrated religious vocation, has regressed into shallow lives built upon fear, pride and ego; the utilizing of religion to pursue one’s self, a lacking in regard to the pursuit of perfection. Unable to prosper in meaningful mature relationships, religion is substituted as an elevating tool, and weapon, to bolster self-esteem and supersede the inherent longing to love. Superiority means more than being a loving equal. How can we expect to have a loving relationship with God, when we cannot even have loving relationships with others?
All is said here: this world of God, the antithesis of hell, is Joseph’s world. It has two doors: the first, the entrance door, the one on the street, is entrusted to Joseph. It allows one to leave a complicated, confused, hostile and dangerous world behind. The other is the mysterious door, Mary’s door, the ancient devotion called the “Gate of Heaven,” through which Jesus enters into the world, in a very special way. Everything happens as if the Lord were presenting himself between these two doors (Joseph and Mary) in the same way that the eternal Father presents himself, according to St Irenaeus, between “his two hands which are the Son and the Spirit.” The Son imitates the Father; he also has two hands: Joseph by whom he pulls us away from the ambiguous world, this Babylon where people think they all speak the same language while no one understands his brother and Mary, by whom the Son inaugurates the new world, that of Pentecost, where each one speaks his own language, where each one is respected in his own uniqueness, yet everyone understands everyone else! We must go through the first door so that the Spirit of the Father who comes through the second door might reveal the Son to us (cf Luke 10:22). “No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11). Andrew Doze “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”
I have to show off the blessings of the private chapel God revealed to me. It astounds there is no one utilizing the Adoration chapel. Hours of solitary prayer time before the Eucharist exist within its confines. The detachment from St Paul Shrine I understand is necessary, an awaking of the heart to a deeper conversion. Today tears flowed freely, cleansing, opening my soul to nourishment through healing alone with God. Pleasantly, a gourmet Italian bakery and cafe, Casa Dolce, decently priced, a gathering spot for morning coffee and conversation, is situated across the street, allowing a bite for breakfast after mass. I also stopped by the Lyndhurst Community Center, making arraignments to enjoy lunch on Monday and Tuesdays at the senior center. As the retreat to Massachusetts comes into being, my wonderful array of Spanish learning CDs picked-up this afternoon, I find myself approaching a new year absorbed with, in, and through my contemplative life. There will be a removal, eliminating religious contacts and friendships, allowing any and all to return if it is deemed the will of God. I clear space, creating a void, in order to allow God to fill.
I will comment on my effort to assist Ramona. Everything is grinding to a frustrating halt. She forced matters to a confrontation with Carter regarding residency, beyond my discernment. Carter negated her staying based upon his refusal to board dogs. He has tried it in the past, not pleased with results regarding cleanliness and barking. I am obedient to his word. I made it clear I would not argue or debate with him. I want to make an observation, insight acquired through my struggles within alcohol treatment. My stay at the Salvation Army in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a six month endeavor, clearly established the fact that men and women who have reached bottom in life are determined to assert control over life. One will find in prison cells a fierce determination to assert free will. I heard it said that if one wants to find know-it-alls and control freaks go to prisons, insane asylums, and substance abuse rehabilitation centers. If one wants to find people who know how to listen to others go to your finer neighborhoods, or I would add reputable religious institutions. One must learn to be able to listen to others, especially those of good intent who conflict with one’s need to assert free will. I remember, I think it was Chesterton who said that religion really does us little good when it agrees with us. When religion nurtures and supports one’s pride and ego it is not serving one so well. Now on the other hand, when religion confronts and conflicts than it is serving masterfully. This is an essential insight into the spiritual life, a critical step in the AA 12-step program. In order to overcome a life that has become unmanageable, a life that has fallen apart, a life descending to devastating and debilitating circumstances, one must admit powerlessness. I have fallen and I am helpless. I must recognize I cannot get up on my own. It is myself who put myself in the fallen position I suffer. The power I possess is unable to sustain my life. In fact, it has crushed my life. Surrender means everything. I must come to believe that a power higher than myself can lift me up, that God can restore me to sanity. God must restore sanity, for I have become insane. I must seek solutions outside of myself. It is not that I lack intelligence nor skills, rather the fact that my life has spiraled downward to the point my sanity itself has become distorted. I do not have enough power to fix my problems, however there exist higher powers able to provide solutions. That surrender for those down and out, those coming from prison, those battling addictions, those enmeshed within the lowest rungs of society, proves nearly impossible. It is the beauty of the Beatitudes, the supremacy of Christianity in bringing solutions to the world. One must find dignity in reducing pride, attaining a psychic change by acquiescing, attaining dignity by saying I need and will accept my frailties: I am ready to listen, to become obedient. If my life has fallen apart, I cannot right matters by asserting strength and determined self-will. My demands, my insistence to dictate terms, judgements, my need to be right, my declarative statements, my excuses, the placing of blame, the pointing of fingers, the extending and sharing in shame, all these things are desperate and fearful exercising of insane self-will. None of them will ever bring about solutions. I do not know how to help someone who will not accept advice nor solutions, always determined she is the one calling the shots, always arguing, debating, and trying to be right. Luke is a wonderful dog, yet Carter says no and that is a final answer. Nothing more needs to be said. Home after home, people and organizations, are willing to offer assistance yet time after time owning a dog proves impossible. Luke has come to symbolize sacrifice, a willingness to surrender and concede to others judgement. Ramona will not allow anyone to tell her what to do, nor to attempt to solve her homeless situation, involving unemployment and a lack of financial means, without her ordering conditions. In truth, she is a completely powerless woman, while demanding to be recognized as a justified reasonable person of power. She is so absorbed in her identity as a victim, she cannot effect a mindset able to truly create solutions. It is difficult and heartbreaking.
Photos of the solitary Adoration Chapel, a haven of peace. The photos are taken with my phone so excuse the quality.
St Clare provides an astounding reality, a private Adoration chapel set apart from traffic and attendance. I am amazed. It will become a new home, a morning Holy Hour and more. The Eucharist chapel is open during business hours on weekdays, when office staff are present. No one as far as I can witness really participates. There are sliding wooden doors on the monstrance to repose the Eucharist when none accompany. It is so quaint and solitary. I am charmed. Behind me when seated in prayer, a life-sized Mary statue hovers raised upon a pedestal. A routine blossoms, a prayer center exposed. Many thoughts arise, St Joseph leading the way, silence retains expression. A new Parrish will be tried on loosely, discerning through prayer and mass before the opening of the Adoration chapel. I also picked up what I thought was a bulletin, only to be greeted with a newsletter for the Lyndhurst Community Center, a community partnership on aging. I am impressed, relating it to my Hospice work. Their monthly calendar displayed a lunch menu. I made a call and the nutrition director knew exactly what I was up to. He was delighted to invite me to share lunch at the center. It seems for a man of schedule and routine things will work out nicely that I will enjoy lunch at the Lyndhurst center on Monday and Tuesday for a nominal fee, with the splendid bonus of the elderly providing me with company and conversation. My only worry will be that I will have to do all the listening and not much talking. I am getting to understand how the elderly can be. For a New Year celebration on Wednesday immediately after work, I will head out for Massachusetts, bound for the Maronite Monastery. Reflection, a quiet retreat, revitalization, and plenty of driving time eagerly anticipated. A wonderful librarian at the Cleveland downtown library has put together a listening package for my drive time focused upon preparation for my summer vacation to Spain. The woman, a foreign language and literature specialist, invigorating through enthusiasm, picked out Spanish (Castilian) CD courses for training, as well as Spanish audio literature focusing upon children’s story narrated in Castilian. I will also have James Michener’s audio book ‘Iberia’ to provide a historical overview of Spain.
Open wide ancient doors,
St Clare providing,
A call to be alone,
A private chapel,
I AM alone,
A longing, a plea,
Not as quiet as a mouse, complaining,
Unification, joining the natural and the supernatural within love,
Joseph and Mary praying as one,
Hearts beating, physical reality,
The Eucharist stands,
One Sacred, one a sinner, still one,
One point, four directions,
Emanating forth, forming a cross,
A crucifixion, dying,
Understanding withstands tainted inflection,
A lack of an accent,
A slap on the wrist,
Working men talking,
Sounding the world,
A concrete saw deafening,
Footsteps, double doors open,
Another quiet, sitting in prayer,
The revealing commenced.
This morning proved odd in circumstance, a contradiction in happenstance. I drove three miles first thing in the morning in order to purchase coffee and donuts for St Paul Shrine. Storing my groceries in the back of my vehicle, I locked my keys inside. First time this has happened. I did not bring my phone as my intention was a quick trip for caffeine. A steady rain negated the idea of walking three miles to retrieve my extra key. My Nissan Rogue is too nice to consider a forced entry. I walked to a donut shop a quarter-mile away, praying a Rosary, oddly calm with the dramatic swing of events. The donut shop provided a phone and the number of a taxi company. Arrangements were made as I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a muffin. The cab driver, a Muslim, listened to my plight, kindly counseling me to trust in God, to see the good within my misfortune. Arriving home, I discovered Ramona starting her vehicle, Luke tagging along, excited to see me. I told the cab driver, I would no longer need his service. He asked for eight dollars. I gave him twenty. By the time, I was driving my vehicle it was too late for mass. I drove home, showering, drinking more coffee, before heading out to my vigil. Arriving at my vigil, I was informed my patient passed away late into the last evening. His nurse came and spoke to me. I asked if his daughter was with him. The nurse assured me she was. I responded then there was nothing to fear. It dawned on me I had a lot of donuts and nothing to do with them. I asked the nurse if her and the rest of the staff at the nursing home would like the donuts. She smiled warmly, assuring me they would be appreciated. Driving home, I discovered on masstimes.org a noon mass at St Clares, a Parrish I am keenly focused upon as a home. Attending mass, Joseph and Mary statues struck with relevancy, something I never witnessed before. The sight pleased, opening a deepening meditation, splendidly introducing a mass honoring the Holy Family. The church of St Clare in Lyndhurst positioned life-sized Joseph and Mary statues standing together upon the Sanctuary. In an alcove to the right of the Tabernacle, Joseph and Mary stood as one. There was not a Joseph statue to the left, and a Mary statue to the right. Mary and Joseph stood together. I have been fixated upon St Joseph in prayer and thought. In silence, observing, opening myself to the Holy Spirit my heart proved tender, my eyes misty. Devoid of despair, sitting alone in a church filled with families, I implored, asking God to provide wisdom and understanding, acknowledging a profound longing. I am convinced the consummation of my contemplative life occurs a part of a Holy union, a marriage within the Church or reclusion and marriage to the Church. My single status is not a calling, rather brokenness prevailing, an incompleteness existing, a remnant of my isolated alcoholic waywardness subsisting. Further anonymity, spiritual advancement, simply refining, maturity exist within vows, marriage or the cloistered life.
My homeless unemployed and nonpracticing attorney friend Ramona is proving to be demanding. I am securing her housing with my landlord, positive he will allow her to stay, working it out with her son, ensuring her rent is cared for. The woman suffers from scoliosis, limited physically in what she can do. My heart goes out to her, a determination solidifying that I will assist her in establishing residency. She comes attached to a border collie, the dog attaining a spot within my heart. Luke is a beautiful and intelligent dog. He has been living with the woman in her car, suffering in temperament. It is remarkable the turn for the better his disposition has taken with a roof over his head and steady exercise. Tomorrow, I will provide him with a bath, brushing, and nail clipping. I have taken Luke for a walk the last three days, enjoying a revitalization of Cain Park with him. It is a pleasant thought to consider Ramona and Luke will become fixtures within my home. I am positive my landlord, Carter, upon his return from Virginia, will appreciate her law school education and her extreme liberal political views. Fellowship within the home should blossom. The difficult part is conversation with the woman proves delicate. She is extremely sensitive regarding about every subject, politics and religion proving volatile. Her passive aggressive nature demands to be right, declarative statements constantly being hurled from her tongue. She is woman who needs to be right. She is a woman who needs to declare others are wrong. Focused upon injustices in the world, pointing fingers of blame and shame upon history and those of conflicting mindset, there is a desperate overwhelming consciousness perpetually asserting unsatisfiable demands upon the world and others, the role of victimhood seeking justification and sanctification through government intercession. There is no polite disagreeing with her, nor questioning her opinions, and even more, those in opposition to her are stripped of dignity, reduced to a satanic and inherently evil status. I have presented confrontational political and religious views to her, only to witness her spiral downward into a tirade of accusations, hysterical rebuttals, and angry arguments. Her coping skills regarding any conversational conflict of ideals is nonexistent. I teased her that she is overly educated rather than highly educated. The words proving to be a mischievous mistake, reducing her to tears. The simplest exchange of words can explode into a vehement confrontation. An absolute focus upon peace becoming imperative. I will do everything I can to ensure the woman garners a roof over her head, while conceding she will be a difficult woman to share a home with. I receive the troubling call for assistance as a blessing.
The contemplative way, another reposting, time is short, and vigils make silent satisfiable demands. Silence is more than a lack of words. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ is more than doing nothing. The contemplative way is a profound trust in God, prayer the vehicle of worldly detachment and divine unification, the dispensing of grace.
Enlightened minds know that silence will be the language of heaven. Already on earth it is the condition for essential communication: “One word spoke the Father, which word was His Son, and this word he speaks ever in eternal silence, and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”
That is why the Psalm points out that language of heaven, both day and night, is a silent language, “there is no speech….heard” (Psalm 19:3)
To find again something of this hidden language, to communicate beyond words, is to find again the secret of the Holy Family; it is to escape from a multitude of misunderstandings, of complications, even of illnesses. It is open to oneself to unknown possibilities of intellectual, poetic, expressions of love. That is why St John of the Cross points out: “That which we most need in order to make progress is to be silent before the great God, with the desire and with the tongue, for the language that He best hears is that of silent love.” Andrew Doze, “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”