The house is quiet, as this Lent has been quiet. It is Saturday and again the weather does not co-operate with my plans, but, they are my plans, not the Lords. I had hoped, as I always do, for a sunny and dry Saturday, in order for me to get my outdoor chores done. It doesn't usually happen. Life is, it goes on around me and without me and when I'm here, home on the weekend I just try to get into the flow, so to speak. Today, with the still foot and a half of snow pack on the ground and the rain coming down, the house is quiet. I have puttered in the basement, gluing an old chair, donned a coat and boots for a trip around the yard, down the paths that have been cut by the snow blower. This winter has been like that, dark, with small paths cut here and there through to let in the light. There has been sadness this winter, on many levels and for many different reasons. Changes in my physical self, surgery on my hands has pretty much laid me up since mid-January. Many thanks to my wife and son who held down the fort with shoveling and snow blowing during this time. It was not easy to just sit back and let them do it all. Not in my nature. I try to take charge of some things, things around the house but in hindsight I'm afraid I've not given proper thanks where even that is due. Yes, it has been a long and mostly dark winter and I've had to change course and re-evaluate where the Lord has lead me. Even that comes into question, how much has He lead and how much have I put myself first and before Him? In these days it is very hard at times to tell.
How the wind howls! These last days of winter are cold and almost numbing to the soul. I can't help but remember back when I was with the Secular Franciscans and after Easter we would talk about our Lent, as people do and I can remember people saying "Oh I had a great Lent! Very spiritual! Very moving!" Mine was never like that, it usually, from what I can remember, was uneventful. No revelations, no real joy. Why was this? I don't know. Had I offended God, and grace was withheld? Perhaps, but probably not. It was more likely there was just too much me in the way, too much searching for me and not God. Oh the patience of God, He is so incomprehensible! Just to think that He will wait for me forever and I can't even concentrate on a Mystery for five minutes. Gosh... Yes for me Lent is a chore, my body rejects it even as my soul yearns for it. In confession a few weeks back I confessed to the priest that I was complaining too much about the pain in my hand from the first surgery and he said that I was blessed to have this pain now, during Lent to remind me of the nails piercing through the hands of our Lord. Contemplate on that! Pray about that pain! Keep that vision front and center while you pray the Rosary! Needless to say his words struck me deep, and I was angry with myself for not seeing that grace myself. I wish I could say that my penance has been successful but alas, it has not, not even 50% of the time. I am what I am, a worm and nothing more...
Those paths through the snow, cut to keep life flowing when God's elements press in. They press in with the physical and the mental, and also the spiritual. If it weren't for the paths the toll would be far worse. It has been a long winter and dark, and even with the coming of Spring some darkness will remain. The physical darkness, yes, but that will heal with time and if not, so be it. I am not in charge of anything, that I know, although I must be reminded constantly. Friendships have been strained and darkness has filtered in where once shown only the light of joy. True sadness there, and I must work to rectify that. I will be honest, I don't know how these things, relationships between friends work. I've never had one that has lasted forever-like, except with my wife. I know there are good men out there but sometimes even good men don't see eye to eye. It is hard, with the pulling of the world, tossing us from one tempest to another and even with Jesus in the boat he can't help us if we don't listen. I go back to the same plea that I've offered to God before, Father, slow me down a bit so I can speak with you more often. And if you hear me speaking sincerely, perhaps you will whisper something to me. Perhaps a glance to my soul. And if not, so be it.
I started this post last Saturday and am just finishing it now, on the eve of the feast of St. Joseph. He is the Saint and protector of so many things! For me, I think of him most as the foster father of our Lord. How God gave him the task of protecting the Son of God and our Holy Mother! My confirmation name is Joseph, and right now, tonight, he is on my mind. Help me, oh mighty saint, to be a better father, husband and protector of my family. How to be a better Catholic man and to show charity and friendship to others. How to put myself into the hands of our Lord Jesus and my Seraphic Father Francis, to follow the true humility shown by our Lord and practiced to the fullest by Francis. Help me, St. Joseph to open my eyes, to heed the call and plead, to cry out to come closer to God.