Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Beautiful Mystery

I've been reading Louise Penny's best selling book, The Beautiful Mystery.  It was a Christmas gift that I am just now getting around to reading, which is pathetic, I know.  But I am, at long last, finding time to read this story that blends faith, humanity, music and mystery. A third of the way into the story, and I would say it's a winning combination.

The main character is Chief Inspector Gamache and the story is set in the monastery of Saint Gilbert Among the Wolves in an ethereal wood, inaccessible to the rest of modern society.  The story's prologue gives a thorough background into the history of plainchant, or Gregorian chant, which was the format for the Divine Office.  Through the years, the Church lost this art form, and it wasn't until the 19th century that a young monk in France decided he was up to the task of recovering this lost art form.    The chants were simple and pure.  And it is said that all who heard the ancient chants were profoundly effected.  So much so, that the chants were known as "the beautiful mystery."

But this isn't a book review post.  It's a reflection on a quote from Dom Philippe,  the abbot of St. Gilbert.  As he stands before his community, one of whom is a murderer, he reminds them:

"Our order has been tested over the centuries.  And this is another test.  Do we really believe in God?  Do we believe all of the things we say and sing?  Or has it become a faith of convenience?  Has it, in splendid isolation, grown weak?  We challenged we simply do what is easiest.  Do we sin by silence?  If we have real faith we must have the courage to speak up."

To me, that, is the real mystery.

It's easy to stand on unwavering faith when life is easy.  It's not impossible, but it's a lot more difficult to  walk the walk when everything falls apart.  

And that's the mystery, isn't it?  How does a life of faith stand up to the tests of life?   

I can only speak from my own experience and from the experiences written by the saints.  But I would argue that walking through the fire isn't just an inconvenience, a punishment by an cruel world or the mocking of an unjust Creator, it is a requirement of a life of faith.

Because one thing is for sure, at these times when our faith was most fragile, at the point when we thought there was nothing left to do but wave a white flag of surrender,  God drew us closer.  We sought Him or He sought us.  I want to be clear, though.  This doesn't mean at those most difficult times that God showed up and "fixed" everything.  It doesn't mean that from the pits, God reached down and drew us out.  In many cases, during these darkest hours, we wondered if God was still there.  But, what did happen,  (as it happens in any relationship where strong emotions are present) is that our relationship changed, deepened, and revealed itself to be something different from what we had previously thought.  

It is impossible to have a "faith of convenience" when the very circumstances you are in demands you have courage and put on your big girl panties of faith and be who you say you are.  

Ask the saints.  Read their stories.  You'll find that if there is one way to deepen your relationship with God, it is to step into the darkness where the only way through is to seek the Light.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Starting Point

So I've put myself in the position, now, of figuring out exactly where one begins after so many years of silence.

Do I start with the developments in the stories of our adopted children?  Are those even my stories to tell?  At some point, their stories reach into ours and fuse together becoming one and the same story, but I'm not sure where exactly that happens yet and I want to respect the confidential nature of such sensitive topics.

Do I start with the foray into mental health care that our family has had?  The myriad of diagnoses, the countless therapy sessions, the battles against insurance companies or the learning curve of psychotropic medicines?  Any one would give me plenty of fodder for the blog.  Easily seven years worth.

Do I start with the collateral damages to friendships, family members, finances, physical and mental health?  There's no shortage of any one of these.

Do I start with the battle for services?  From the state to the classroom…the battle was nearly insurmountable.  Nearly.  And that is definitely its own story.  Which leads me to…

Maybe I start with the changes, the growth and the lessons learned about achieving the impossible?  About living through stories you never would have written yourself into--if you were actually in control of the pen--oh, or what about that--control?  Many lessons about how little control is actually in our possession.  Any of us.

And that's just the adoption related stories.

Kids have grown up, as they tend to do, moved on to colleges, grade schools and high schools.  Some remain at home still, for which I am grateful to still have the opportunity to live again some of the years I think I missed while we lived in crisis mode.  And the babies.  I wouldn't be telling the full story if I didn't recall the seven sweet lives that sli
pped through our grasp over these last tumultuous years.

And work and home and life.  And all the things that it encompasses.  Including our faith.

What has nearly a decade of trauma done to our faith?  

That's a good question.  I'm still struggling to find the words for an answer.  But our faith is still the compass.  The same faith that led us to answer God's call in the past continues to lead us forward.  With much wider-eyes than before, for sure, we step forward in faith and continuing to build.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blog Silence

A little over seven years ago, the writing on this blog came to a screeching halt.  For so many reasons.  I read a story today called The Silence of Adoption, and it occurred to me that, perhaps, it was time to play a bit of catch-up here in this space.  For today, however, I'll share The Silence of Adoption as a very teeny, tiny baby step forward.