Poverty

Poverty 

to be crowned

by Him

We are all blind until we are poor.

I find the world is slipping through my fingers, like dust, as I lift my hands to Him. But I do not relinquish what is finite to remain with hands empty. I lift them to receive that which satisfies—because it never runs out. Pleasure can be found in the finite riches, it is true, but happiness ends when the riches are spent. Joy is always to be found in the infinite riches, which moth and decay cannot destroy.

Why do we cling to the world if we know what glory awaits us? Why do we remain oblivious to what (we must admit) is obvious? Do we believe it is safer in the dark? Indeed, do we fear what Love would demand of us to acknowledge and change? Go and sin no more. And yet, Love demands precisely because it wishes our true happiness—our joy.

We fear to change, because we find our sin comfortable—it demands nothing more than cowardly self-love. But if we were to change, to trust Love’s demands, we would realize we were not comfortable after all, for we were created for holiness, not sin. And holiness wears a crown, while sin wears shackles—shackles felt but not seen until poverty is embraced.

Only when shackles fall can we lift our hands to Him who cries to us: Ephphatha—be opened!

Insecurity

Insecurity

to be rooted

in Him

I am a writer. We artists are known to stand on shifting sands; one day it is feast, the next it is famine. Is it foolishness to pursue what we love, what we feel called to pour ourselves into, knowing we will rarely, if ever, be secure?

But what does secure mean? If it means to never find yourself desperately needing a miracle and thus never receiving one, to never know consolation made tremendously sweet by desolation, to foresee the future as clearly as if you’ve already lived it . . . I would rather continue being a leaf on the wind—but rooted in Divine Providence. Yes, if holding fast to that pencil, that brush, that guitar means not knowing how I shall eat tomorrow—but also that I will know euphoria at being saved, once again, by a thread . . . I will hold fast, in faith.

I am young, but I have seen wonders. I’ve been blessed to call many exquisitely beautiful places home, to call many golden people family, to find love where I would not have if the Lord had not opened doors. Yes, He had to open those doors, because I own no key (I could not afford a key to such realms). And if I did own a key, would I open the right doors? I know myself. I know I would shy from the threshold that is darkened by the unknown—not realizing that just beyond is a light-filled garden teeming with wonders.

Be it foolish in the world’s eyes, I hold fast to my pencil, because I know how Divine Providence has transformed my life. It has allowed me to live without the boundaries that permanence, comfort, and wealth impose. Insecurity has lifted my feet from the earth, that I may see from a vantage I never could have reached otherwise.

When I am insecure, I am free.

Radiant

She was the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen.

My sister, gowned in lace, flowers adorning her hair. My sister, tall and elegant, processing up the aisle. My sister, a princess being offer by the king and queen who gave her life, offered to the prince who would share in that life, protect it, cherish and nurture it. As the choir’s harmonies swelled in the high, medieval-like spaces with holy, holy, holy, and as we the witnesses looked on in wonder, I can describe Tianna as nothing other than radiant.

And as she and her beloved clasped each other’s hands and vowed their love, I feel that we were bound with them—a hem on a tapestry, called to support them by our indelible connection through the Body of Christ. Perhaps this, in part, is why such strength can be found in Christian marriages. A man and woman do not enter the Sacrament alone; an army rallies around them.

I imagine the heavenly armies were gathered before the altar there as well—to celebrate the victory of purity in the couple’s love. For I believe my sister radiated as she did because her soul was a window unsoiled, allowing the purest light to break through from Heaven onto this earth. I think it is a grace specially designed to be released in the Sacrament of marriage . . . but one that is too often hindered by a blackened window. If the world knew how sweet this grace was, it would not only cleanse its windows but throw them open to feel the warmth beyond.

Yes, I think what I will remember best from my sister’s wedding is the warmth—the warmth emanating from God’s very heart, made possible by the holy romance between a man and a woman. Yes, it was the the Divine descending through mere humanity. Such is the power of a Sacrament.

Rage Wild

on fire

like I’ve never been

before

to be a spark

in the stubble

of fallen mankind

I desire this

O my God

what blazes within

let it escape

rage wild

where You will

ignite the sleepy hollows

scorch the vines that choke

drive every creature

to the brink

of Your life-giving waters

but more than to

consume with fire

I desire to be consumed

utterly

by Your love

nothing left of me

but You

Everything

On a morning cool with the impending fall, I bundled into a hoodie and set out down the lonely gravel road, the dogs and cats trailing behind me. I clutched the red crystal drops of a rosary in my right hand. I spoke the prayers aloud; I prayed the mysteries within.

It was not merely the pearl-gray sky, the dying cropland, that seized my heart with sorrow, for I was praying the sorrowful mysteries. I was reflecting on all I have given to the Lord thus far in my life—and I realized that my small heroic moments amount to nothing compared to what He gave me as He suffered agony among the olives, suffered beneath the lash, suffered the cruelest crown, suffered as He fell again and again beneath a cross that should have been mine, suffered as the blood flowed from His body as He hung naked before sinners.

I was struck by the raw truth that I have not given enough to my God. And I realized I am not called to give more to Him . . . I am called to give everything.

I don’t know what this will entail in my life. It may mean being far from those I love, perhaps even giving up those I love. It may mean being little, unrecognized, unappreciated. It may mean laboring in the vineyard without living to see the fruit. It may mean darkness. But I do know with certainty that it will mean boundless joy, deep-rooted peace, and ultimate fulfillment as I empty myself to be filled by Him.

Because with Christ, every cross leads to resurrection.

Pale Shimmerings

When the world was a void, when a dome rose from the waters, when He formed a chasm in the land and filled the chasm with cool, green water from a stream—I am certain the Lord knew how much we would love this lake.

In the depths of this past winter, I dreamed about the day I would celebrate my 21st birthday at the lake of my childhood. How good is God that I would, after all, find myself there that day, beneath the bluest sky, scarcely a breeze to threaten the heat, with my loved ones. In all the world, it is the one place that will always be woven into the fabric of my life, because it will always be there to return to as long as I live (though its shoreline recedes or advances with the rain and the drought). At once, the lake—with its hot, orange beach; evergreen boundaries; placid, sunset surface; wraithlike loons that come and go; shabby playground and canteen—makes me impishly happy . . . even as it makes me achingly sad.

It is the pale shimmerings of Heaven. So beautiful but never quite what it should be, like the moon reflecting the sun’s blazing light. Ah, how to explain the tears that came as my father held me and I gazed upon the lake turning pink as the sun carved downward, a haven that few people have been blessed to know and love as we have, as I have. I grasp, knowing I can never hold. But I must grasp, because as I do, my fingers graze the veil that separates my true home from what is tangible now. And in this I remember that one day I will find myself swimming in the purest lakes man has never known—and loneliness becomes hope

Nakedness

I know these things

though they sleep within me

What once was in the garden

is now choked by earth’s vines

vines that closed Eden to us

and our hearts

to our true selves

All we cling to now

is memory

of nakedness without shame

We may claw and slash

at the vines

seeking our return

to paradise

to unity

to love undistorted

but what was lost

will not

cannot

be found in the ruins

Turn your face, then

to the living memory

given us

to nakedness nailed

upon a tree

He who is without shame

Yes, He will awaken you

awaken us

to the love

that was

and can be again

Discovering Home

I am home. But what is home to me? If home is where your heart is, home is many places now. And not mere places, though, but persons. Without the people I love, my beloved islanders, Prince Edward Island would be nothing but another beautiful getaway, like France or Spain.

Oh, how I came to love the island, and not as I thought I would. It took time to see what makes the island a place I desire to return to, a place where something wonderful is growing and waiting to bud. Who knows what will come forth, but I want to be there when it happens.

Saskatchewan is at once familiar and foreign. I did not understand this at first, but upon reflection I realized that what makes it as foreign as Egypt is that I no longer belong here as I once did. My memory is triggered, remembering how comfortable I was here not long ago, but the new self is experiencing home as if for the first time.

And this is okay, because though I look forward to fresh experiences . . . I will always return, as long as my family remains, transforming a beautiful getaway into something much more profound. It was my nest, the place that formed me. Now it is like a delicate ringlet clipped from a child’s head and pressed into a locket, to remember the days that fostered innocence and carefree abandon.

I will not forget. No, my heart will not forget, because home is indeed where your heart is.

The Greatest Things

I’d like to share with you this piece by Saint Anthony of Padua. It is called Be Satisfied With Me:

~—~

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,

to have a deep soul relationship with another,

to be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,

fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone,

with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me,

with having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone,

discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,

will you be capable of the perfect human relationship

that I have planned for you.

You will never be united to another

until you are united with Me,

exclusive of anyone or anything else,

exclusive of any other desires or longings.

I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you

the most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.

I want you to have the best.

Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.

Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I AM.

Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.

Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry.

Don’t look at the things you think you want,

just keep looking off and away up to Me,

or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love

far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,

(I am working even at this moment

to have you both ready at the same time),

until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me

and the life I prepared for you,

you won’t be able to experience the love

that exemplifies your relationship with Me.

And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,

I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.

And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection, and love that I offer you with Myself.

Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.

Believe it and be satisfied.

~—~

One day, I think, I will write my life down as a story, because it is just that to me—a story with a plot I could never have conceived, with twists and turns coming at the most unexpected moments, but always the perfect moments. Yes, He is unfolding a thrilling plan, and by this has taught me to release my own dreams and desires into His hands, because His ways are proven again and again to be far better than my own. By this He has taught me to expect the greatest things.

Oh, how much I have learned and grown since coming to this little gem set in the sea; I have learned to surrender and to love surrendering—not that I do this perfectly, of course, but I do believe with my whole self that it is the only way to live a fulfilling life. Like a boat on the waves, if the wind pushes me north when I wish to go south, I can do nothing but hoist the sail and trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding me onward to where I am called to be, to where I will be happiest.

And happy I am.