Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Friend

My dear friend, how do I see you?
When we first met,
Such a memory was set,
But now my heart is so blue.

Night after night my warped affection
Became as clear as day
As I saw you in such a colored way,
My heart blind to reality’s complexion.

Without a doubt, I know my feelings are right,
But I cannot help but remember you are not mine.
My heart aches so, with your words so kind,
But life isn’t so kind to keep you in this light.

My emotions have tossed and turned
As a boat on the seas rocks to and fro
In a storm where the strong gales do blow.
Nothing has changed since in my heart so spurned.

I do not blame you, my friend,
For not knowing these words composed
Because I have kept it in,
Not telling a single soul.

It’s not that I want your love;
I’m quite far beyond that.
I know your heart is with another, so wrapped.
What I desire is your understanding of my pain.

I have done this before,
Wrapping my heart in attraction so impossible
That I thought burying it could be possible,
But stronger have the fires of my desires thus roared.

I don’t want to hurt what you have.
I’ve prayed for the both of you,
In good times and in bad,
But my heart needs freedom from you.

I do care for you deeply.
I’ve prayed for your relationships,
But I also wished for something else secretly
And now wish those words didn’t come off my lips.

I have prayed over this,
With my heart unsure of its wish.
It isn’t me to be acting so,
But through this all my heart has been made low.

My friend, all I ask of you is this:
Don’t break my heart when I finally tell you
Of the impossibilities I have so wished,
For all I wanted to say was "I love you."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thy Will Be Done: Going the Distance

There are a few things I feel most compelled to write about this evening after Awakening. It is certain there is always a spiritual high after events such as these, but today's was distinctly different I quickly realized while reflecting during my drive back to Austin afterwards.

I am convinced of myself that this feeling is new to all eight other times before. This is a time of rebirth in my life. It is about seeing the world from a larger perspective all the time and also seeing it at the most personal of levels. It's about reflecting on past relationships—of faults brought to them and of faults taken away from them. It's also about setting new resolutions and commitments that have outgrown the original that were grown within me and taking those another step further. However, it is not merely an additional step—far from that—it is a radical way of looking at things.

Faith, especially that which is taught from birth, has its natural progressions of understanding God and how to please Him. The progression goes from the original outlook of life of "I should do whatever I have to do to get what I really, really want (but don't know why I want it)," to an earnest desire to please God and still ask Him for the occasional personal request (so-called "miracles"), to a willingness to commit oneself to God (but with particular reservations), to a total submission to God's will...one where all reservations are removed and there is a total trust in God.

I think I was somewhere in the second stage this past year with a troubled relationship. I was essentially asking God to perform a miracle for me to change a relationship to conform to my understanding of how it should be. Over the months, I have realized the errors in this way of understanding.

It wasn't until this weekend in Eucharistic Adoration that I detached the worries over the relationship and looked at it in a more holistic approach. If I were to put myself in the others' shoes, where would that put the troubles of my heart? I realized then that it is through measured understanding that these troubles of my heart ought to be discussed openly but also in a calm, rational way. Pure passion leads down the road of irrationality, so tempered passions are needed.

Another thing this weekend of prayer addressed was the spiritual dryness that grew this summer due to exacerbated tensions of already strained friendships. It loosened the elastic stretch of these tensions and lightened the struggles that I have laid upon myself. It was through solitary prayer that this opened my heart to re-tapping the communal strengths of loving, unassuming friendships. It decreased the distance of compassion and brought compassion and caring to the forefront. It was the prayer and devotion to God that "popped" these rubber bands of snares set before my feet in my day-to-day life of this past year.

Yet, more importantly in the retreat's final hours God did something even more gracious and loving. He gave His children a clear message in which to follow: trust in Him completely so that in our earnest desire to try to please Him in everything, one does so even when we come up short, and that we are to trust in Him to continue to guide us to the right path even after these shortcomings, correcting our ways and conforming us to His will.

It was during these final hours of the retreat that the final talk was given and the Mass was celebrated. And these two were intertwined even more than usual. The Mass is our guide to pleasing God. It is that reenactment and remembrance and actual presence of Jesus there in the Mass that so moves us as the Faithful. In the words that Thomas shared in the last talk, he discussed the Mass as our focal point, the roadmap given by Christ himself for our daily journey: "The Lord's Prayer."

It is here that as he also quoted Thomas Merton:
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton from
Thoughts in Solitude

And, in reflection, he shared the song Go the Distance:
I have often dreamed
Of a far-off place
Where a hero's welcome
Will be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I'm meant to be

I'll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while

When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate
Though that road my wander
It will lead me to you
And a thousand years
Would be worth the wait
It might take a lifetime
But somehow I'll see it through

And I won't look back
I can go the distance
And I'll stay on track
No, I won't accept defeat
It's an uphill slope
But I won't lose hope
Till I go the distance
And my journey is complete

But to look beyond the glory is the hardest part
A hero's strength is measured by his heart

Like a shooting star
I will go the distance
I will search the world
I will face its heart
I don’t care how far
I can go the distance
Till I find my hero’s welcome
Waiting in Your arms

I will search the world
I will face its harms
Till I find my hero's welcome
Waiting in your arms

This song was, for me, the capstone of the retreat. The images shared during the music were of the previous talks of the weekend. The words spoke to me of why I was there—to seek God in all His ways and follow Him—and why it was most important for me in my heart to continue on this journey with my friends around me. This "hero's welcome" isn't at a distance. It's right there in front of me in its current form, in the flesh and blood of those friends before me. I have no need to wander, for all I need is there before me.

In approaching this blog post, I went to find the music to reflect on again. I couldn't help but see the "ev'ry mile" that is "worth my while" were the miles I traveled to get to where I was today. It was in the here and now. And the searching is what I have done these four years since arriving at A&M. It is something that I must do...and have done. It is what I have found there that is my hero's welcome.

And through tears shed, all I could think of was of the joy of opening my eyes to see the love around me and the passionate love for God. This is indeed worth my while and a bridge that we all crossed this day together as one with and in Christ. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

O Father Eterne

This summer has been a veritable roller coaster of moods, feelings, and various levels of spiritual fortitude. This summer, for better or worse, has led to a drying of my prayer life, but even it is during these droughts of prayer that even the smallest of prayers do begin to help set into motion the answers that God has already set before us.

Before yesterday morning, I was pretty much just spiritually going through the motions. In a way, I fear this might be a symptom of something to come after graduation next year. It's a major concern that I can find a proper balance with prayer life and work. It took me a while for when it was just classes and prayer life, but now it is an even greater issue because the "safety net" of close friends being around you is gone. And while the Information Age has ushered in a time where connectedness is ever-present, it does not reflect the real thing. There is no substitute for the real thing.

Enter in this weekend. Yesterday I was thinking of the events coming up and clearly in my mind I remembered the summer Aggie Awakening was coming up. I had filed it away before the summer started and thought nothing else of it. However, staffing it is just the jumpstart I need going into the backstretch of the summer. So, I have decided to jump ship from Austin for the weekend to help others find Christ and also try to find Christ in the others along the way. The planning for the trip and the retreat have now engulfed my thoughts and put me in a much better mood—albeit still a sleepy one.

It goes without saying that nowadays if there is a free moment, I have pencil and paper on hand to scribble down words. My lunch break on Tuesday led me to following poem/prayer, which is a simple one but one of my instant favorites.

What I was trying to achieve in the poem in the three major stanzas was to address the overall nature of God's love, the Old Testament era, and then the New Testament era, all the while tying them together to a present-day request (or "call to action"). It is, at the same time, a prayer and a poem, but in a sense it is one for me a request for help in renewing His call to me in my daily vocation. These things are at least what the few stanzas below mean to me. I hope you find them as enlightening and beautiful as I felt them to be.

O Father Eterne

Since time eternal
Has your love been present.
From age to age,
You love has been Heaven-sent.

Your love was there for Abraham
And for Isaac, Samuel, and David, too.
In the Great Flood your mercy was shown
As after forty days the sun broke through.

How merciful is your love, O Father Eterne!
For your compassion do so many still yearn.
It continues to be shown each and every day
Through Your Son who has shown us the Way.

O God so merciful, be with us this very day
As we turn to You in a world that has turned away.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Painter

A man stands at the foot of a cliff,
Alone at the abyss’s edge.
His easel rests beside his tread,
And through its delicate colors, shows his gift.

The painter looks down at his paint
And the many works of his past.
He remembers each with private joy so vast,
But their colors have faded, now to ones so faint.

The painter uncovers one deep below,
And within him a warmth so full grows.
The painting was of a woman from long ago
Who captured the man’s heart but filled it with woe.

His eyes filled with tears,
For he still loves her after all these years,
But Fate had struck Her path,
One of change filled with endless wrath.

You see, he had painted this picture
Not to impress the Other,
But to keep her memory alive further,
Leaving him, in times like these, much richer.

He had painted this picture for her,
All that time ago,
To share with her his love for her
No matter where she goes.

But she never saw the gift
For what it truly was
And left with him the gift,
With its colors now faded without love’s cause.

His love is insatiable to fill;
Its power to control him beyond his will.
Without that requisite return touch,
This painting, with its faded colors, is a mere crutch.

The painter’s heart sinks lowly;
His creative will is gone.
What he painted was love alone,
But that love left him cold and unsightly.

His eyes look to the horizon,
Focused on the radiant rays of the sun.
Tears fall down from his face,
For he now knows his place.

For a painter to believe in himself,
He must first believe in his own works.
The worst is not the critic who rejects his work
But the one who walks away without a word.

The painter looks to the Heavens,
Wondering what now to do.
His heart is ready for a new lesson,
But his heart is now silent like his canvas, too.

He puts down his worn brush
And turns away from the cliff.
His heart gives up on his dreams so lush,
And instead tells him to stop asking, “What if?”

Without a reason to paint or to implore,
The painter has no further reason to paint once more.