Yes, I am letting things go, one at a time.
My study on a point in Ascent to Mount Carmel by St John of the Cross challenges me to let myself be free, one thing at a time, one day at a time, of all that is not of God. I see that it is one thing to have head knowledge and another thing to put into practice what I am learning from a Doctor of the Church, a Carmelite Saint who suffered so much. Yet, some of the most beautiful poetry in Spanish were written at this time of his life – in a dungeon that was not only terribly cramped but had hardly any light.
This makes some sense to me. No matter what the inconvenience, the struggle or even the desire to not want to let go, there are really consequences. I am free to choose, and I am free to decline. What is my choice?
There happened to be two hymns at the first mass this morning that spoke loudly to me. The first is based on the prayer of St Ignatius, and it is generally known as the prayer for generosity. The words are roughly as follows: Take, Lord, and receive my whole will, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding. All that I have, they are yours. I ask for nothing more; only your love and your grace, and these are sufficient for me. The message for me is: am I prepared to let go? This has been a prayer that I have uttered for years. Am I paying only lip service?
The second song one written by Dan Schutte, and usually this is sung during the season of Lent. I paid extra attention when I heard the title being announced? Holy Darkness! And as this was sung by the choir during our time of receiving Holy Communion, I just allowed the words to speak to me. At my pew, with eyes closed and head bowed, the lyrics ministered to my soul. . . And the memory lingers. . .
Coming back to my desire to be more and more detached. . . . you would have heard about the string that is tied to a kite. No matter what, that kite will never be able to fly, fly, fly away. . . .And you would know that this is the same for a bird that is also tied to a string. That bird can never be free. In the same way, all that I am attached to will be barriers to my desire to grow closer to God. What is my choice?
What was it that made me buy my copies of St John’s books together with several other classics about a year after my baptism? I might say that it was ignorance of the spiritual journey. I did not realise that there are stages to be covered, and up to a certain point, one loses control as in the sense that one can no longer decide. All is grace. Sheer grace. All is also gift. God’s gifts.
Being young in the faith and having no guidance from anyone, I simply got those books. Some attempts were made to read and understand. I did not get very far, of course. And since there is a season for everything, I see how my last annual retreat is leading me to the Carmelite Saints. There was the cocoon that captured all my attention for a long while, and that took me to St Teresa of Avila and her Interior Castle.
Now that I am into reading, learning and praying to St John of the Cross, I need to do more than acquire knowledge. In fact there is much that remains unknown to me. I have come to accept that I can count on spiritual direction but also on the revelation of the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Comforter.
And so, it is enough if for now I begin to learn how to let go, how to exercise detachment, how to be free for the Lord and in the Lord. . . ..
This is where I have to make known the fact that for those who post articles, I will only be able to get them published on Sundays and Mondays. I am weaning myself, if I may put it this way, from the attachment of blogging as and when I like. Lent is a good time to practise some form of penance, and this, unfortunately, affects the little service that I do. Hence the silence for a while.
And silence, my friends, is good. It is our ally for prayer and with silence, there will be time for recollection and deeper reflection as well. I am still trying. . . . pray for me and with me!