It’s time to turn our thoughts, hearts and souls around. In a world of instant wars, instant fires and murders and car crashes and all things horrible, it’s time for a different Lenten practice.
Go beyond fasting between meals. Do more than abstain from meat on Fridays.
Fast from negativity. Abstain from permitting yourself — yes, this is an interior choice — to drown in pessimism.
If you want to live the next seven weeks in misery and despair, I will not get in your way. I will tell you that you are wasting your precious life. You could very easily work to make your life better and, because of that, make the world a better place to live.
Making our world a better place to live is hard work. It demands we rigorously bend to good. That, in the middle of runaway inflation, disease, a new war tearing apart Europe on top of all the globe’s other conflicts, we command better.
Do you know what it means to demand? It comes from a French word meaning to ask. Long ago a prophetess told me to demand from God what I needed. Using the word demand in English is a very bold thing to do. Beyond simply asking for something.
Over time I began to go a step further. If I want something from God, I command. I order It to give me what I believe I need.
I have never been struck by lightning.
Looking at the madness around me — and sometimes inside me — I tell God when and where the world needs change. Where I personally need change in my life.
Sometimes what I command of God comes to pass. Sometimes not. Much depends on the hearts of humans. Including my heart.
How willing am I to let go of pain? Self-inflicted or from the outside?
There were countless times when my personal life overwhelmed me. There was so much going on. I had no idea how to manage something as simple as making it through the next five minutes.
So, I let go. I let Somebody else control the situation. Life always changes. Sometimes it goes the way I prefer, sometimes not.
During those times that I simply sit down and meditate, really meditate so that the squirrels in my head are silenced, my life improves. Maybe nothing I told God to change in the outside world changes, but I do.
Over the course of many years of prayer and meditation, there have even been times of quiet contentment. Sometimes serenity.
Contrary to what I might have thought, getting external things does not necessarily make my life better. Letting go of the desire to change the rest of you, to make the world over in my own image and likeness, makes life better.
The willingness to enter into union and communion with the Creator leads us to that ecstasy. There are various ways to do this. Religions and spiritualities offer guides and outlines. The reality is that there are as many different ways to achieve ecstatic union as there are human beings.
As much as I enjoy the legend of Teresa of Avila floating over the stove in ecstasy while cooking dinner, it has always struck me as eminently impractical. It’s nice, but any realistic person knows it’s a great way to burn the food. Her poor sisters!
Something we all have to face if we are willing to give up our anxieties long enough to enjoy God is that there is a price. Perhaps not like Julian of Norwich. She thought she was on her deathbed when her ecstatic visions occurred. She recovered and lived many more years as a hermitess.
We don’t have to turn our backs on civilization like those who go off to become hermits. We don’t need to live in a cave.
People who experience that intense exaltation of mind and spirit are needed in the everyday world. Women and men who come into contact with the divine help the rest of us keep our feet on the ground.
Not everybody who achieves ecstasy does so at the same time. Nor in the same way. And drugs or mind-altering substances of any sort certainly hinder real union and communion with the Creator.
The question for us all is whether or not we are willing to give up ourselves to become more than we already are.
Don’t try to be somebody else who has already had this experience. How can you ever have your own genuine joy if you do? There has always been turmoil and division in the world. That is even more reason for each of us to continue our spiritual progress.
I have been blessed. God and I do not always see eye to eye. The worst of times have also been the times that I saw God most clearly.
I was transported out of myself to unspeakable beauty. I saw more than I could ever believe possible. My world may have appeared to be going to hell in a handbasket. That was not reality. The internal reality was that I was undergoing change.
Let go of your pain and be changed.