Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The conscious awareness of living in Christ in the Order of the Present Moment has had major challenges.  Between two or three weeks of intensity back and forth to the hospital and more phone calls than usual, by far, and the shock of the situation, the reality hits: this is how many people exist daily.

Then the guest arrived for four days.  Lots of laughter, food prep, shopping for food prep, coordinating more guests arriving for dinner, conversation, football games on television.  

It's quite a switch from the outer silence, solitude, slowness, simplicity, stability, stillness, serenity.  Did we leave out suffering and selflessness?  Well, the suffering continues regardless of being alone or having guests.  The selflessness holds a permanent place in the need-to-improve category.

Then came a week of appointments and some afternoon guests.  But at least could be at daily Mass.  Did we forget to calculate the ten days of nasty sinus infection that kept me home bound for eight of the ten?  And that reading and writing fled the scene other than reading and writing some emails.  

Then stuffed into the mixed bag is shopping for family gifts and such.  Go to one catch-all store that requires focus, effort, time, and yet yields bargains...comparatively so.  Then got the idea to purchase nativity figurines and such for Christmas gifts, at quantity discount.  Seems wise, for will not have to spend time and money for several years, and the gift will be heirlooms some day.  Then for some Christmas traditions:  Irish Porter cakes and St. Bernard Love of God Bourbon Balls, and maybe some Fortitude Fudge.  Get the homemade herbal and concord grape liqueurs labeled, ribbon tied, and ready for gifting.

It is all so humbling to realize that it takes but a little, typical activity of most people's lives--for the focus, energy, and time dwelling consciously in Christ in the Order of the Present Moment to be compromised.  

In fact, when I wrote this, I was preparing to drive into the Cathedral for confession with my spiritual director, and I have much to confess on this very topic of humility, or lack therein.  Perhaps empathy has been lacking, also, or not being in touch with how most people must navigate the world with people around them not at all interested in such pearls as remaining in Christ's love.

Well, I got a good reminder, a good swig of how challenging is the spiritual life when any number of admixtures enter into the effort.  Definitely, as opposed to not being hospitable, not gifting at Christmas, not going in to stores, not involving with families in hospital, not cooking for guests, not dressing in clothing of the culture, not lots of things, is far easier to focus and establish oneself as austere and devoted.

But the Order of the Present Moment and remaining in Christ's love are for everyone, and the past three weeks or so have been outstanding reminders of the path of greater suffering, which is to sacrifice a kind of selfish wish to don a tunic and sandals, be au natural and dump other efforts required to blend in with the culture.  Could avoid smiling or human warmth, and discourage anyone from visiting in order to stay more spiritually focused. (Would I be prideful, and covet the freedom?)

I've tried both approaches in my life, and this path of blending into the mix, among people, being hospitable and accessible, approachable and more as an undercover agent for the Lord, is quite the supreme challenge!  Besides, the spiritual director is delighted with this modus operandi and the effect.  He says I am becoming who Jesus wants, and the joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit...and to keep it!

Admittedly, today am exhausted and thankful to be home after noon Mass, needing a nap.  I suppose for those who love the bustle and the image, to be austere would be far more the path of greater suffering.  But for one who tasted austerity and enjoyed how easy it was, and comfortable in its own way (far easier than the hassles of blending in, fitting in, and at least exteriorly conforming), this other is hard work, even painful work, and for me, by far the path of greater suffering.

It is also very humbling on the inside despite how the outer looks a certain part of the play.  Yet it is not a play.  It is life, and it is living life in Christ in the Order of the Present Moment, on the stairway to heaven even if challenged.  Christ the King puts His princes and princesses through some paces now and then. He asks us to step higher, increase the momentum, and be reminded of self-righteousness.  

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