Monday, January 21, 2013


I sat in our parish's Eucharistic Adoration Chapel today and really bawled -- the kind of crying you're ashamed of, afraid of, embarrassed with, the kind that leaves you full of mucous and salty tears and with blotchy skin and swollen eyes. 

I'd been scared of writing this post all day because I'd led my readers (you two know who you are) to expect something LIFE CHANGING.  I didn't want to disappoint, but was (and still am)  afraid, because saying what is on my heart is genuinely frightening and full of the dangers of being misunderstood or thought silly or arrogant or stupid or superstitious or gullible. 

I'd spent a lovely morning with my sister (the Frankenstein caller) whom I love so dearly and who has been a real companion to me in my weight loss struggles and in my larger life.  We rushed home so that I could take Chickadee #1 to Irish Dance.  I dropped her off and thought I'd pay a quick visit to the chapel instead of going home.  I thought I'd pray for wisdom and eloquence, maybe write a little.  I didn't imagine that within five minutes I'd be crying out, literally, "Okay, I get it.  I don't know how this is going to help me, but I believe that it will.  I really believe it will." (Thank goodness the Chapel was empty!)

It's very hard for me to sit still, to quiet my mind and just be before God in the Eucharist.  Usually I swing through the adjacent parish library before entering the Chapel, just so that I have something to focus on as I try to settle down.  Today, I picked up a photo/essay book by Henri J.M. Nouwen called With Open Hands I probably chose it because, years ago, the sister I saw today gave everyone in the family a copy of Fr. Nouwen's book (I think it was Life of the Beloved).  I opened it to the first essay, called "With Clenched Fists" and read....

Praying is no easy matter.  It demands a relationship in which you allow the other to enter into the very center of your person, allow him to speak there, allow him to touch the sensitive core of your being, and allow him to see so much that you would rather leave in darkness.  And when do you really want to do that?  Perhaps you would let the other come across the threshold to say something, to touch something, but to let him into that place where your life gets its form, that is dangerous and calls for defense....

The man invited to pray is asked to open his tightly clenched fists and to give up his last coin.  But who wants to do that?  A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer, because you discover you don't want to let go.  You hold fast to what is familiar, even if you aren't proud of it.  You find yourself saying: "That's just how it is with me.  I would like to be different, but it can't be now.  That's just the way it is, and that's the way I'll have to leave it."  Once you talk like that you've already given up belief that your life might be otherwise, you've already let the hope for a new life float by.  Since you wouldn't dare to put a question mark behind a bit of your own experience with all its attachments, you have wrapped yourself up in the destiny of facts.  You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future.  So you fill your hands with small clammy coins which you don't want to surrender."

That's where I lost it.  I'm close to losing it now, because this passage so clearly speaks to my experience and because it is it the latest in a series in which God is hitting me upside the head with a two-by-four. 

I think this is going to have to be a three-part series because chickadee #2 is freaking out, hungry for dinner.....


  1. Hehe, almost forgot you said it would be life changing. Still in my life you already have been :)

    1. Love you Green Bean. You are MY hero, you know... From when you were little, praying in Polish at the Frankenstein Caller's wedding, to now, when sweetness and sincerity just emanates from you like perfume. you are awesome!

  2. I agree that praying is no easy matter - but I am inspired by you! Eileen