Music: “Dry Bones” by Gungor
Video found on Phil Van Eck Youtube Channel
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of dry bones.” (Ezekiel 37:1)
These past few months have been difficult ones and that is why I have been away from my blog. As my last post in November stated I was late due to being sick. Those daily low grade fevers with severe pain continued through mid January and I was even hospitalized for 3 days just before Christmas.
During this period I also lost my apartment and had to move into my parent’s basement. Thank you Lord for family who loves us. Thank you Lord for those who serve others in need. I still find it disheartening that the sick often face homelessness in our country. I have surely been blessed though for I have a warm bed to rest these cold dry bones.
My malaise continues but we now understand better what is going on with my body. I will be going for a surgery consult in Denver in a few weeks because my gall bladder will need to be removed. We do not know if the surgery will help ease my symptoms and since this is my ninth surgery related to complications from Crohn’s we do know it will be complex in nature. We had to wait for a while because I developed a severe case of leukopenia which is where one’s white blood cells drop really low.
That problem has reverse naturally but I had to sequester myself at home as best I could. Even a simple cold could have been life threatening because I would not have been able to fight it. But I digress on the purpose of this reflection: Cold Dry Bones.
As I prepare for what lies ahead, I’m struck by the frigid tempatures outside. Just last night it got down to minus eleven degrees and wind chills down to minus 44. It has been such a harsh winter for so many of us in the states. I know for those of us who suffer from chronic and severe illnesses, frigid temps often mean more suffering and more pain. The cold is so harsh and makes our daily lives feel endless and meaningless. I know that during this period of suffering I have been feeling very dry.
When I was younger in life and experienced dryness in physical and spiritual life I use to feel panic. I saw that type of suffering almost like a punishment. But as I have grown closer to Christ I now understand that I am drawing so close to Christ on the cross that I can not see or feel his presence. He is hanging on the cross in death. Death is always cold and dry. So how can our hearts our souls not taste a bit of the cold and dryness He experienced in his passion.
In the midst of this mystery, those who experience this cold dryness are given a tremendous grace to grow deeper into Christ. We can choose to surrender ourselves, to offer our pain and to suffer with him. I find that I have to cling to the cross I share even though my thumbs and even my heart-strings are torn and numbed by the experience.
What does one do in the midst of the turmoil of chronic illness? How does one continue the fight to cling faithfully? How does one find hope?
The answer is simple. In the holy darkness. Yes, it is as dark and dry as a closed tomb. It is even scarier then the cold or pain of the cross. In that darkness we are alone. We are invited to enter the holy darkness of God. It is beyond our understanding and comprehension. But in the midst of that darkness, if we are truly receptive, God can do his best work in us.
Many saints and mystics share with us the darkness they have experienced during their lives. We can find strength in their words during our own dark nights. Here are a few:
- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta wrote to her Archbishop in 1961 to explain the condition of her soul:
“There is so much contradiction in my soul.—Such deep longing for God—so deep that it is painful—a suffering continual—and yet not wanted by God—repulsed—empty—no faith—no love—no zeal.—Souls hold no attraction—Heaven means nothing—to me it looks like an empty place—the thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God.—Pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything. For I am only His—so He has ever right over me. I am perfectly happy to be nobody even to God. . . . “
- Saint John of the Cross wrote once to a nun during a time of great trials:
“Do not let what is happening to me cause you any grief, for it does not cause me any. What
greatly grieves me is that the one who is not at fault is blamed. Men do not do these things, but God who knows what is suitable for us and arranges things for our good. Think nothing else that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love. “
- Diary of Saint Faustina:
“Jesus says; ‘My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone. I want to see you as a sacrifice of living love, which only then carries weight before Me… And great will be your power for whomever you intercede. Outwardly, your sacrifice must look like this: silent, hidden, permeated with love, imbued with prayer.”
- St. Louis de Montfort, “Friends of the Cross”
Be resolved then, dear Friends of the Cross, to suffer every kind of cross without excepting or choosing any: all poverty, all injustice, all temporal loss, all illness, all humiliation, all contradiction all calumny, all spiritual dryness, all desolation, all interior and exterior trials. Keep saying: “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready” (Ps. 56, 8). Be ready to be forsaken by men and angels and, seemingly, by God Himself. Be ready to be persecuted, envied, betrayed, calumniated, discredited and forsaken by everyone. Be ready to undergo hunger, thirst, poverty, nakedness, exile, imprisonment, the gallows and all kinds of torture, even though you are innocent of everything with which you may be charged. What if you were cast out of your own home like Job and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; thrown, like this saint, into the mire; or dragged upon a manure pile like Job, malodorous and covered with ulcers, without anyone to bandage your wounds, without a morsel of bread, never refused to a horse or a dog? Add to these dreadful misfortunes all the temptations with which God allows the devil to prey upon you, without pouring into your soul the least feeling of consolation.
Firmly believe that this is the summit of divine glory and real happiness for a true, perfect Friend of the Cross.
Challenge for this week: Search for a saint to travel with you during this time of darkness, of illness, of trial. Ask them to pray for you and walk with you. Trust that they are your friend in heaven and they want to help you on your journey to the cross with Christ. Find a story, book, or prayer that you can keep of copy of near your bed. Read these words of encouragement in your dark dry cold times this week.
Search for a saint: http://saints.sqpn.com/
Are you in despair pray this simple prayer:
Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others.
Other people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by their fidelity and constancy to You.
For my part I will glorify You by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should have reason to despair of pardon.
If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen.
~St. Claude de la Colombiere for a young religious at the point of despair.
Rest in trust during darkness by watching or listening to the video below.
Music: “Satisfied in You” by the Song Team
Video found on YouTube.