Heart Unbound

Closure.  That’s the word.
As hard as some things are, it’s always more difficult without closure.

If one reaches an end and receives closure, it’s quite the gift.  Some would rather do without it, but in many cases in life,  I think it’s worth it.  It’s the lightening of the heart from a weight you never really realized was there to begin with.  That’s what the gift affords you.

I’ve lived nearly two decades, and I’ve made many mistakes, some of which I will forever wonder about, but just this once, I’m not left without a clear finish line.  A clean break on the path, as it were; another marker to reference and be sure of as the next move is made.

Oh, there is or was pain involved, most of which I made myself, but it is outweighed somehow.

How?

Here’s the thing:  I’m not someone who thinks of happenings relating to one’s life as coincidences;  I take it as the Spirit reaching out to me.  Well, as far as noticing the signs, I believe it’s the Father pointing them out and teaching me; when I actually move and take action, I reckon it’s the Spirit working.

Before I saw all these… promptings… I felt overwhelmed, filled with a storm of anger thoroughly unwarranted by the situation.  My mind was more of a mess of emotion, fueled by a sort of buried madness.  Anyone else’s brains ever start to go into overdrive, becoming a blur, at which point hardly any coherent thought comes through?  That’s where I was, often.  I’d lost my sense of focus, and it became apparent throughout the days as I tried to work on a number of projects.

~

Maybe it was an experience at Mass… no, it was.  I remember it.  The first sign.

Father’s homily was quite the kick in the face, but it didn’t start there.  That Sunday, I felt more attentive to praying the Mass than I had in quite a while.  Reminds me of a quote from St. Irenaeus, actually (though there is some debate on whether he said it exactly or not).

“The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” and that’s what I felt.  As if all my senses, hampered by worry – not just over this one failure on my part, but also a number of matters related to my schoolwork – were kicked up several notches and suddenly unburdened.  I was able to see and pay attention to everything, but not be distracted by it (which is how I normally am at Mass, unfortunately).  This time, I felt right at home, truly in communion.
So when it came time for the homily, a time when I tend to zone out because of how hard it is to hear Father from the altar (shh, don’t tell, I do try), I was so there.  Amazing how God speaks if you actually listen to/for His word *coughs*.

Father’s homily spoke of finding three things, well, finding two things and doing the last for both of them:
-A companion
-A teacher
-Giving them a break

For this, I’ll focus on the things that really hit me in relation to what was happening, which were the first and last items on that list (the second – I’m pretty sure – is a push to continue my hunt for spiritual direction).
I’d heard it before, but he made note of the fact that John the Baptist sent his disciples to Christ.  Good companions lead one another on a journey of growth, with Heaven as the high goal.  Further still, he noted how Christ gives us specific companions, and… because they were given to us by Him… we shouldn’t easily turn our backs on them.
In a finishing blow, Father turned to the subject of expectations of others, how they won’t always meet ours, and sweet glory, how we’ll never meet theirs, so for Heaven’s sake… Don’t.  Give up.  Based on that.

Now, I must confess, I ignored this push for a bit, and as another day or so passed, well… it was St. Mother Teresa’s turn to smack me across the face, as I scrolled the endless Instagram feed:
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person…”
Because that’s what I’d been waiting for.  Initiative from someone else, anyone else, so I wouldn’t have to move on my own.  Did I mention I’m a prideful person?  It was pride that was keeping me back from admitting my failure, unwilling to admit that I remained restless in guilt.  And so… in response to that, God made me see the caption underneath the St. Teresa photo, from Mother Angelica: “… start looking into your own life and attacking your pride in all of its many forms.”

So that’s two mothers smacking me upside the head.  A trinity of smacks to the cranium, if we add Father’s words.

~

Suffice it to say, I did what I felt was right, this time with surety that I don’t normally have.  And when it turned out the way it did, when it was over, I ran.  Not away, but to.
I ended up in adoration, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.  The chapel was mercifully empty, and there I stood before the tabernacle.

Those moments will forever remain locked within me, like a calm fire; not deadly or destructive in its ways, but comforting and warm.  It was my turn to make a promise.

And so with clarity, and to quote Venerable Fulton Sheen, I say: “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

There, I admit it.  I have a heart, and it’s broken.  Don’t look at me all funny, I’m not made of stone.  However, the gaps are closing, and faster than I expected, to be honest.  Because right there, in the immediate aftermath, I can look back on what took place and see why God drew me back one last time: to right the wrongs, to fix what I had brought to ruin.  To leave this artwork at peace with it and move on.  Because it isn’t terrible, it isn’t faulty, it is… a beautiful ending.  And oftentimes, you’ll find that the most beautiful endings are the ones that cause the greatest pain.

So I’m beginning.  I am… me.  I do have an idea about where to go, placed in me during what I now consider another era altogether.  Who by?  The voice, the whisper that follows me beyond the bounds, guiding me forward.

Am I a good man?  Let’s find out.

-M

Striving Death

How many times do we consider death in a day?  How many moments come to us in which we consider that mystery, the gate through which we all must pass eventually?

I like to think I’m rather good at planning ahead, thinking about the big picture, the consequences of each act, of every chance where death could have claimed me that was denied.

Now, that might make me sound suicidal, but I think the man who has not considered death is very unwise indeed.  It’s all very well to live in the present, but to deny the reality of mortality is foolhardy indeed.

I choose life in all its greatness and its struggles, but there’s always that blade hanging high above, the Sword of Damocles as it were.  When shall it fall?

I have absolutely no idea.  No one ever does.  I’ve taken steps, or at least tried to, in case I do die before all matters are sorted out, but there’s always something that’s bound to be missed.  A relationship, a personal goal, etc.

We write our stories expecting to reach a conclusion of our own making, but life isn’t like that.  More often than not, the end of the chapters, the series, they come to us, quiet as a breath of wind.  To end it as we wish renders us… cowardly, diminished, and lacking.  To force the hand of the writer, to stop at the point one wants misses something beautiful: the epilogue.

A lot of stories have such unexpected conclusions to great sagas.  One reaches the last chapter – and in their mind, the conclusion – thinking it the end of all the greatness of the story, and then is pleasantly surprised at times by what many pass over as an afterthought.

“Oh, this story has had its time.” some might say, “Let it pass, for to add anything further would ruin it.  Drop the book now, before it’s spoiled by whatever last words the author wanted to add.”

Rarely however, in both stories and in lives, have I found an epilogue not worth reading, or seemingly so.

By such final moments, by gift of the Great Giver, by mercy itself… the story may yet reach what may be pictured as a vast and utterly beautiful library; its shelves lined with books beyond imagination that are each uniquely penned, and yet all are wonderful and delightful to the eye of He that brought them home.

– M

Shatterpoint (An Analogy)

Hello, 2017, you’re an odd kettle of fish.

Perhaps it’s time to come back down off of that ethereal plane of a new year high and reconsider things.  I’m trying to break out of a bad habit… again.

The habit in question is… wait for it… you’d never believe me if you knew me in the past… oh… 6 months or so… video games.  Dun dun dun.  Oh, the horror!  So, as you can probably tell, it’s severely hampered my writing abilities in this mind-numbing fashion that brings out all the animalistic instincts I normally try to dissociate myself from.  Did I use that word correctly?  Oh well.

My point is… I need to get back to this.  I need to retune my skills like one attempts to tune an instrument (which I’m terrible at, ask any of my siblings).  And what else to bring me back to writing but a sobering, earthly subject?

I confess, I used a particular video game as an escape route, *cough* Shadow of Mordor *cough* thinking it quite cathartic in venting streams of anger that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Am I an angry fellow?  I like to think I keep myself rather even tempered, but I’ve been prone to odd outbursts lately, and here’s where things actually start.  In the spirit of years’ resolutions, we’ll take the examples of goals for this, seeing as that’s basically what I had.

I had several goals this past semester, this past year, these past days, to reach a point regarding a matter rather… important to me.  So, in pursuit of that goal or that point that I saw as success, I kept hacking away at this wall of things that stood in the way of reaching that place.  As it turned out, well… the wall was much more solid than I imagined, and what had been envisioned as success rapidly turned into a nightmarish attempt to reach the other side.

I was left angry and bitter at my failure, and as such, sought an outlet.  Several outlets, actually.  And after each outlet, I thought I saw a glimmer of the far side of the wall, perhaps closer again than in truth.  I started once more at the wall, again and again, until at last, I saw that my efforts were fruitless in the extreme.  So… I tried to leave the wall.

Did I succeed?  I’m not quite sure just yet.  The heart is an odd thing, and memory another.  To cherish the latter has often led to a great distress in the former, at least in my case, but still I do it.

Why do I tell you this?  Well, indulge a young fellow, but I put this out here because I’m hoping I’m wrong, in a way.  If what I speak of seems unclear, garbed in analogy as it is, I do apologize.  My emotions hamper what I say more effectively than the shouts of a thousand men.

There is a point where one’s emotion must bow to reason.  When one has tried over and over to reach something that perhaps (I say perhaps, as one has yet to see) is not beneficial to the soul, to the ultimate goal of reaching Heaven; when one has experienced a greater negative outcome than positive by that continued attempt… perhaps it is time to conclude that the hope was in fact flawed.

Hope is not flawed, hoping in something in which one should not however, is.  I have tried, time and again to reach what I saw as the greater good, per a promise I made.  I met the wall.  Efforts met with the blank silence that comes from futility.  Oh, there may have been a few sparks as I battered at it, but no true persevering light.  Of course, there is the possibility that I went about it the wrong way.  I am a swordsman, so let’s take that analogy.

The approach I took by the way of the sword left no truly visible mark on that impenetrable wall; indeed, it only led to the blade growing duller with every attempt, and at last, that blade which I thought would hold forever shattered.

Maybe I used the wrong tool, maybe the wall was never mine to break through, but I think that I ask the questions of myself too late.  I lost, in those terms, and hopefully I’ve won in others (heh, see below).

 

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My personal seal I made, which I realized too late was a bit stubby.  But I succeeded-ish!

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Took me a good five attempts to get that right.  First I did it reverse, then it was too shallow, then it wasn’t showing up so clearly in terms of width (the picture doesn’t show the final product, unfortunately), then  it was too shallow again, then finally I found the right look.

 

The lesson I hope to take from it, for everything must be learned from, is to know when to change course.  Steer the car another direction as it were.  This road I’ve walked or driven might have been good and right at one point, but… maybe it’s not the case anymore.

We all have to face things like that at some point in our lives.  It’s kind of a downer, but it’s true.  The thing is, we must pray that we have the grace to know when to live with the consequences… and move forward (bit of Flash there for ya) from what we once thought was right for us.  That’s not to say it won’t ever be in the future… but at the moment… let it pass, into the west (them LoTR feels).

And also:

“Things end… that’s all.  Everything ends, and it’s always sad.  But everything begins again too… and that’s always happy.  Be happy.” – The Doctor

-M