Because in the school of the Spirit,
man learns wisdom through humility,
knowledge by forgetting,
how to speak by silence,
how to live by dying.
-Johannes Tauler

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning Deeper

Wow. Praise God for all the lessons we are learning this year.
As I read Julie’s last post, it sparked the memory of a conversation a couple weeks ago about this very thing. I was challenged (within the conversation) to consider what it truly means to take a vow of poverty – practically speaking. This friend opened my eyes to an element of that vow I had never considered: it requires the charity of others.
Because we know charity is love, what Julie says is so profound – asking for help, for charity, is allowing others the opportunity to love us, and maybe, in return, we are giving them some of our love by reaching out with open hands. That takes humility, and as Thomas Dubay says in Happy Are You Poor, "Detachment is one-half...; humility is the other. Poverty is related to both." My, how we are learning.
I am discerning the call to religious life and almost constantly in my prayers am I asking God if that is truly how He would like me to live and serve Him. As I trudge through the months, begging for an answer, I can always look back and see that even when I have felt stagnant in my journey, indeed, the Lord has been drawing me closer to Him and molding my heart in preparation for whatever is to come. 
Now, with the new experience of a third-world mission trip breaking the horizon, I wonder how God will call me deeper into this 'experiment' of poverty. Down in Haiti, poverty is no experiment. It is a very grave reality, and having only ever lived and traveled in first-world countries, I anticipate this journey will prompt some change in my own life. 
In some ways, I wonder if I will not be called to a new level of poverty. Dubay spends a chapter on the various levels of poverty, and comments, "The circumstances of some persons call for a more drastic self-denial than those of others." That certainly has gotten me thinking...
Those who know me know I have a flair for the dramatic, and over the past couple days, I've been reflecting on the "all or nothing" attitude I gravitate towards in life. St. Augustine says something I have always found to be true: "Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation." Knowing that I have radical tendencies, I am extremely curious how my time in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere will affect me. Already, I am deeply moved just from reading a book my dad has passed on to me by Louise Perrotta called All You Need To Know About Prayer You Can Learn From The Poor, which contains short interviews and stories about people who live and/or mission in Jamaica or Haiti. 
It's true that reading about the reality these missionaries and natives live every day is far different from living it alongside them, but I can't help but think what riches will await these poor in heaven - they are so faithful to God in the midst of their misery. The thoughts of such rewards prompt me to ask the Lord: "What must I do? I hear You saying to me as You said to the young man, "Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (Mark 10:21) But, Lord, how much must I give to the poor? Even my life? Is that how I am to follow You?"
I [try to] patiently await the day when these smoldering questions erupt into the leaping flames of knowledge and purpose that will propel me deeper in my love for service to Christ. + 

1 comment:

  1. Something that has struck me in the psalms this Lent: God TEACHES us how to do his will.

    “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God”-Psalm 143

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go”-Psalm 32

    “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth”-Psalm 86

    I used to think that knowing God’s will is like a light switch. You don’t know what he wants, then BAAM! You know what he wants.

    But learning to do anything is gradual. It goes in steps. It is incremental. It is divergent before it is convergent.

    This, I think, is partially the reason why God doesn’t tell us, blatantly, what to do. I can tell a student how to solve a math problem, but they need to learn it. God could tell us what to do, but we need to learn how to reach the conclusion. We need to learn, in essence, HOW to discern His will.

    Let us patiently learn from the Master Teacher, so that we may all learn to do His will.