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 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!

No comments:

Post a Comment