I know, I know… I broke my blogging resolution to post every day after only three days! My roommate Stella graduated from LPN school on Thursday (Yay, Stella! So proud of you!) and we’ve been celebrating. This week was our last chance to see certain friends who were around for the holidays, and we’ve been enjoying their company.
This Christmas was such a blessed time for me. Being with so many people I love has brought me great joy – perhaps more joy than I’ve ever experienced before at Christmas. But at the same time, I have really been missing those people I didn’t get to see over the holidays. Quite a few of my friends are away studying for the priesthood or being formed for religious life, and others are living abroad as teachers or missionaries.
I’ve especially missed spending time with Rose, who’s a postulant with the Carmelites of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. She was my constant companion throughout my discernment, and so often I wish she were here to help talk me through the difficult moments…
A couple of months ago, as the holidays were approaching and I was already beginning to miss my far-away friends, the Lord sent me a completely unexpected (but much-needed!) consolation. On the day that it arrived, it seemed like things just kept going wrong at work, and I had been going around repeating to myself: “I am such a failure; I am such a failure!” Then when I picked up the mail that afternoon, there was a letter from Brother Damian, a friend who’s a novice brother in a local religious community.
Brother Damian has spent the past year in formation with the incredibly-awesome Norbertine Fathers in California, and I can tell it’s been wonderful for him. His letter was full of encouragement, just the sort of things I needed to hear, and at the end he included the following quote from Blessed Columba Marmion, which I have read and re-read more times than I can count. (As it happens, the quote is actually from a letter written by Marmion to one of his directees.) I went back to it just the other day and thought it needed to be shared.
“God expects each creature to serve and love Him according to its nature. The angels must love God angelically, that is, without heart, sentiments, affections – for they have none of those things. But He expects man to love Him humanly, that is, with all his heart, soul, strength and mind, and his neighbor in the same way. We are neither spirits nor ghosts, but human beings, and we cannot go higher than perfect humanity elevated by grace.
“Your thoughts about Jesus are too narrow. He isn’t a bit like what you imagine. His Heart is as large as the ocean, a real human heart. He wept real salt tears when Lazarus died. ‘See how He loved him!’ He does not expect you to be a specter or a ghost. No, He wants you to be a thorough woman, wanting love and giving it, and when you leave those you love, He wants you to feel it deeply. Don’t be ever scrutinizing your poor little heart in fear, but look at Him. He possesses for you, His spouse, all that your poverty lacks.”
– Bl. Columba Marmion,
Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction
My heart soars every time I read those words! It’s okay for me to miss my friends. It’s okay if I don’t quite have it all together. It’s okay for me to be human because Christ can be perfect where I am imperfect. What a blessing it is to have friends who are always reminding me of the most important thing – do not be afraid; only look to Jesus, and see how He loves you!