Personal Denial

9 03 2007

“Trials are nothing else but the forge that purifies the soul of all its imperfections.” St. M. Magdalene de Pazzi

During the Lenten season we are called to deny ourselves, to purify our soul and get closer to God. To see ourselves as we really are; weak, broken, imperfect.

Nobody like trials, we hear about people going through them and we thank God that we are doing fine. But when trials come your way there is no better thing to do but to embrace them. To run from it will only delay the resolution of the same.

Every trial that I have experienced served to forge a new dimension of my spiritual growth. God knows me better than anyone on earth and he knows what I need to get closer to him, but what amazes me is that he manages to bring good out of every bad situation in my life. I might not see it right away but with time and after the scales are lifted from my eyes I’m able to understand that the trial was only a vehicle to transform me and help move forward to do his will in my life and that of others.

Lately I’ve been preocuppied about me and my feelings, so the Lord put before me couple of trials I must endure in order to make me lift my eyes off me and onto others. I’ve been called to be strong and supportive. By giving I won’t worry too much about receiving, and by sacrificing I become stronger to endure pain and suffering. It is all there in front of me, there is no way to avoid it and I must prepare myself spiritually to endure it. I must take the necessary steps to be prepared to make wise decisions.

Right now I feel that I’m the unlikely candidate to handle the situation, but somehow I trust it will be God and not me doing so. I must step aside and let him work through me, it is only then that I’m able to do what he asks me to. If I dare try to do anything on my own I know I will fail, I must lean on him. Surrender, denial, renunciation three words that most people run away from and yet it is the essence to be strong, powerful, influential and transforming with God’s grace.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 we read: And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My stregth is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I’m weak, then I am strong.

The Need for Silence

4 03 2007

retreat Photography by Clary Lopez Copyright 2006

In a little over a month I will be taking my yearly silent retreat. It is a time I look forward to, however I understand that not many people are used to silence. “Silent retreat? What’s that?” some have asked me. It’s a retreat in which you don’t speak for two and a half days. “Oh my God, how am I going to do that?” Well, I would say by not talking…

I will listen to spiritual talks throughout the day and then reflect on them. Sometimes I walk the grounds you see on this picture. There is plenty to explore and as I walk and listen to the sound of the ground beneath my feet, I feel the heat, cold or breeze on my face. If I’m ambitious enough I can walk a mile and reach the Benedictine Monastery and go into the church or across the street and spend some time at the grotto. The monks get together a few times a day for prayer. I usually take my camera with me and take pictures at the escapes I want to take home with me when I’m far away from this wonderful place.

Silence drives me to dig deep and to hear God’s voice if he wishes to communicate with me. It is rare that I get to this point but first I must create the ideal situation for him to work with my spirit.

Sometimes I just go to my room and read or journal my thoughts and reflections. There is a stillness that you can hardly get anywhere else unless you do this kind of retreat. Life is too busy, too noisy, too fast for this kind of situation to be recreated at home. I try my best to get this periods of times whenever I can and I need to let others know of my intentions. I can’t be listening to radio or TV all day long, I need some down time. Balancing the physical and the spiritual is important to me and I’m sure it is good for everyone, but not everybody understands it. One day they are all stressed out, depressed or with a nervous breakdown and they wonder why. To me is simple, don’t forget to take time for yourself and by yourself. Don’t forget your dreams and passions in life. Take time to laugh and time to cry. Show others how much you love them and care for them. Take care of those who need help. Say something nice to someone you know or to a stranger. It is simple.

One of my mottoes is: “Be silent and speak when necessary.”

When Emotions Move the Writer

1 03 2007

You know those times, you are either falling in love or you are going through a tragedy and you need to let it out. As a writer you can count on to be moved to write either when you are happy or sad. Emotions are the catalyst to create with words that which wants to emerge from the depths of our soul. It is a channel to release tensions and to give way to a positive view.

We try to make sense our daily living. If we tend not to analyze our commitments too much before we know it, we have no life to speak of. If we have a family which we feel needs all kinds of activities and entertainment, our quality of life get worst. Life in general is not easy, it takes time to fine tune our intents and how to go about getting it done. Many times we forget about the most important person in the equation, us. If we don’t take care of ourselves and our needs we have nothing to give others in return. The well is usually so deep and holds so much water, if we continue to draw water from it even in times of draught, before too long we have nothing left.

I was fortunate enough to have been taught by my mother to put my emotions on paper, thank you mom. From my difficult teenage years until now I’m able to refuge myself in my journals. I have a few with different themes. One is a spiritual journal in which I write matters of faith and my experiences. My “conversations with God” and what I think he is trying to communicate to me. Another one is a gratitude journal; when I went through a difficult time in my life I needed that one to go on and not lose hope. A priest suggested to me to do that one in order not to focus on what I didn’t have but on what I was given instead. It helped me realize that I was not alone, God was with me, and that everything had a purpose. I also keep a Bookography, a journal of books I’ve read and what I think of them, that one was suggested by a book I read which I can’t remember the title right now.

I knew that this year would be a difficult one, but I had no idea it would be like this. There are times when you can tell that a lot is coming your way but all the sudden you see even more than you think you can handle coming right on your direction. But then again it might not be that at all, it is because you can handle it that is coming your way and not to others. For some reason I feel at peace and tranquil. I have my moments in which I burst into tears and after that I feel better and go on. It is time to analyze my life one more time and how I will handle what is before me. I need to dig deep and give up a few responsibilities to take on others. It is not going to be easy but if God trusted me with it I’m sure that with his help I will handle it well. “His strength not mine” I keep telling myself so I don’t dare think it is me who is going to take care of whatever needs to be done in my life and the life of those entrusted to me.

Do you see how this works? I haven’t been able to write for months and now I can write for days. The need to unburden my mind of the millions scenarios that goes through my mind and that doesn’t let me sleep have created this writing. I believe I tossed and turned all-night and was awake for a good couple of hours around 4 a.m. this morning. These and other words traveled through my mind trying to escape, not create madness but to heal and to strengthen.