Sunday, November 18, 2007

Teresa of Avila receives a soaking

Lord, this is just far too much and I am not at all happy with you! You might have an infinite sense of humour, but I do not. You may be laughing, but I am not! I do not appreciate the trick you have just played on me! I do not enjoy standing beside a muddy stream, soaked to the skin, whilst the Sisters and I have to decide how to retrieve our overturned cart from the water. Even the donkey appears to be laughing, but I am not!

First of all, I am cold and wet. Secondly, as I have no change of clothing, it means continuing on my journey still cold and wet whilst waiting for my clothes to dry on me. Thirdly, you gave me a fright when the cart tipped over into the stream: until then I had been, alternately, peacefully thinking about you and dozing. Would you like it if you were to be suddenly catapulted into mid-air into muddy water? You would not be best pleased and neither am I!

In fact, thanks to you, I have grazed my knee and stubbed a toe into the bargain. My wrist is also sore where I banged it on the stones that form the bed of the stream into which you have thrown me. Yes. I am blaming you and not the donkey! You knew that the donkey would stumble. You knew that the cart would overturn and you did nothing, absolutely nothing, to stop it happening.

If this is the way you treat your friends, it is no surprise that you have so few of them!

Well, Your Majesty, I have now had my say. I am not asking that you should have performed a miracle for my benefit. I know that you do not work in that way, but life is hard enough without you sending extra difficulties to accompany me on my journey. It is not easy having to travel between all the convents, encouraging and exhorting the Sisters to adhere more strongly to our Carmelite way of life. Yes, I do receive a great deal of support from people such as Fr. John of the Cross, but he, too, receives opposition from the members of his own Order. Why is it, Lord, that people are reluctant to change their ways and cling to you more closely?

Of course, I do know something of the answer. I was 40 years old before I realised the enormity of all that was expected of me if I were to truly live the life of a Carmelite nun. I admit that my youth, even inside the convent, was frivolous and given to finding pleasure. I enjoyed all the visits from the young men of Avila even if I put a religious construct on their appearances for ‘spiritual advice’. Yes, I know that I was good-looking and that my Carmelite robes somehow enhanced that, but it was so difficult for me to really and truly put away the pleasure I had found in dancing and singing before I left my home. Yes, Your Majesty, I did live my life at a superficial level and it was no wonder, really, that I was not happy.

It was then that I began to find you even amongst the pots and pans in the kitchen. I began to sense your presence everywhere and, little by little, I fell in love with you. Eventually, but only after a struggle, I was able to place my heart in your hands, knowing that I need not be afraid.

…but perhaps I would have been afraid if I had known that you would tip me into this stream!

Well, Lord, even if I am very cold and dripping wet, I still love you. Help me to love you more.

"Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing afright you.
All things are passing.
God alone is changeless.
He who has patience wants for nothing.
He who has God has all things.
God alone suffices."

God bless,
Sr. Janet