In my younger years, I was a member of The Mountaineers, hiking the Cascades and Olympics in Washington State over a number of years. There were times when we encountered beautiful vistas, quiet meadows, sparkling streams, lovely flowers, and surprises…like marmots sunning on the rocks or a sudden, unexpected blizzard. But the journey also involved those pesky, biting flies and mosquitos, rocky terrain, long switchbacks on a hot day, and the inevitable thirst and fatigue. Yet we always kept going.
In my years as a Secular Carmelite, I have learned that climbing Mt. Carmel is much the same. The Lord gives His grace and also withholds it; he sends us into our deserts, lets us rest in quiet places, and asks us to follow him up the mountain.
“…after the Last Supper, He said to His Father: "And the glory that thou hast given me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them and thou in me; that they may be perfected in unity."
I have always loved that passage…have meditated often on what it means to be one with Him.
My life has taken a path similar to many others. When my mother’s heart grieves for my children and grandchildren, I know that there are many others who grieve for theirs. "We are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread."
In my Native tradition, we have many “give-a-ways”…gatherings where a family will give gifts to many present in celebration of some event or in honor of someone. There is inherent in that tradition an understanding of both the giving and the receiving. It is disrespectful to refuse a gift, no matter what it is. One simply accepts it and gives thanks. It is also understood that some gifts are given to us to keep and cherish; some are given to be shared; and some are given to pass on to someone else who has greater need of it. It is expected that we also will be a giver as well as a receiver.
I treat the gifts given by the Lord—joys, sufferings, sorrows—the same way. I can cherish them, share them, or offer them for someone who is in need…another mother who grieves for her children, a lonely or depressed person who needs comfort, someone suffering at the edge of their limit, the persecuted around the world. Now, as an elder, it is a spiritual accompaniment…a journeying in spirit with another which is also part of my Native spiritual heritage. It is my place in the mystical body of Christ; it is my way of seeking to be one with Him.
So when I say to you that I am okay…I am, in fact, okay. Our beloved Mother has asked me to “trust in Him and be patient.” I pray for that grace; as a Carmelite I am in her care, and thus I am always okay.