“Recovery… is dependent upon [our] relationship with God.”1
“Wretched” perfectly fits this can’t-pass-too-soon-year, 2018. Yes, our political/societal quakes from daybreak to dark. My spouse’s political outrage, fitting and just, incites my own shadowy fears. The death of my best friend, the woeful derelictions of my boss, and recurring sibling savagery between my sister (cardiac crises) and brother (terminal leukemia) have sapped my reserves of energy, patience and hope. Enduring civic and parish commitments, family duties and social doings consume the dregs. Over the full span of the sodden, fetid summer I barely put my toes in the waves and rarely gripped the dingy’s helm.
Beyond the dim likelihood that they’ll be answered as asked, there’s good reason to steer our prayers away from… “unreasonable demands upon ourselves, upon other and upon god.”2 Pope Francis warns against blocking our access to God’s creativity with our pleas. The idea that God “answers” our prayers, tweaking the life events of seven billion replicas of his image and likeness (is there a more self-serving notion?) may be untenable. Regardless, the Word that was “in the beginning”, the Word with God and Word that is God”3 echoes within each of us and all of us, summoning our full attention to realize His creative energy at work in everyone we perceive, engage and embrace.
In this harrowing hour, I desperately long to experience “each day’s most quiet moments, by sun and candlelight.”3 I need more such moments and long to draw more from them. A retreat beckons… my former, longstanding Chicago home group gathers as the leaves’ colors peak. The twelve-hour drive each way from Philadelphia gives me pleasure. Arrive a day early; linger a day longer. Gather my journal notes and favorite texts, plan to listen during the talks, and listen harder during the silences.
Silence. Silence, to hear the Word within me, within us.
How do I love thee [O my God]? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if [You, O] God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. 3—Martin
- 1 Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), p 100, AA World Services, Fourth Edition, 2002
- 2 Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), p 76, AA World Services, Fourth Edition, 2002
- 3 Sonnets from the Portuguese, “Sonnet 43”, Elizabeth Barrett Browning