I have never been away from this blog for as long as I have lately. Yes, I've been busy, but not that busy. It's more than that.
It's more than the family issues--my dad's melanoma, my mom's severe and debilitating back pain, my 17 year old cousin's severe injuries when she was hit by a car while walking across a busy street, the deaths of several friends' parents, and the ever-challenging financial needs that swirl around us in an ever-tightening maelstrom...a storm of dark clouds and raging winds that cause me to seek the protection of hearth and home.
My chronic health issues are definitely part of the problem. I've had very little energy, and the pain has been much worse than usual. And when I don't feel well, I tend to fold in on myself and not want to talk to friends or even post here. Sometimes it's just too hard sometimes to keep up the facade of peace and wellness I raise to comfort family and friends, hoping they remain unworried, unconcerned--at peace themselves....
And I know that I can't live behind a facade. In my latest fiction, I've been writing about facades, and in the fiction I've been reading lately, facades have been a nearly-constant theme. I know that I can be "real." But at times I fear worrying family and friends with the extent of my pain and disability, especially on days when just walking across the living room seems too daunting a task for the moment....
So I'm pushing through my facade today, and I'm posting, even though part of me wants to snuggle into my familial cocoon of my wonderful husband and terrific kids and spend this lazy, rainy day reading and writing and not pushing myself outward. But I know that I need to stop folding in on myself and push myself out into public again.
So on Ash Wednesday this week, I'm attending an Ash Wednesday Retreat at the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, a gift from my dear friend from grad school. We'll spend the entire day at the mission, from 9AM to 4PM, finishing with Mass. And much of the focus will be on silence.
I so desperately need this time to focus on God in solitude and silence, especially on the first day of Lent. God is working on my heart in several areas, and I know today how He wants me to spend my Lent, which discipline He wants me to develop. And although I'm not looking forward to the process, I am excited about the results.
This poem appeared in my inbox on Saturday, and I wanted to share it with you, not merely because Poe is one of my favorite poets, but because silence is something God has been knocking on my heart about lately. I have had very little interior silence going on in my spiritual life lately--and that's not good for me, for my relationship with God. I crave silence, but I haven't been making room for it to happen. And the words of my friend Judith in this month's edition of our small-town newspaper reinforced the necessity of solitude and silence in our lives, and in my life in particular.
So ponder these wise words with me:
by Edgar Allan Poe
There are some qualities—some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence—sea and shore—
Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name's "No More."
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!
So as we approach Lent this week, I know where my heart needs to be. I need to wrench off the facade and rest in the silence and solitude that bring me face-to-face with my Lord and Master, where I can ponder and pray His Holy Word, where I can learn again to listen to His still, small voice. I pray for the maelstrom that has encircled and spiralled my life lately to calm for these forty days of Lent so that I can refocus my heart, mind, and soul on the One who suffered and died and rose again so that we might live in His loving grace.
Pulling away the facade and seeking Him,