On my recent long trip I was, again, able to take advantage of the ongoing generosity of the Echeverria family. This resulted in 25 days in a cabin in Montana, 30 miles from West Yellowstone. The latter is one of my very favorite places to visit. Over one hundred days have been spent in this part of “the cathedral of the great outdoors”.
“Every blessing is a curse, and every curse is a blessing.” How true that saying has been for me. When I get to that cabin I am in peace and quiet. My usual medicators are not available-no T.V., no radio and no internet hookup for the computer. (I am not a great techno guy, so I was not able to figure out the cable.) One year there was not even the ticking of the clock, to keep me company. This year there was company. What company that turned out to be! One evening I was listening to the ticking of the clock . Then this thought bubbled up from within, with each tick my death is one moment nearer. How wonder-full???? I was so tempted to get up and remove the batteries so I would not be faced with the steady, unstoppable, march of time into eternity. Boy, does that trigger the uncomfortable feelings of powerlessness as one is faced with lack of control.
It is then I have to remind myself of what Fr. Richard Rohr has said in one of his books. When we get into solitude we will be faced with our issues of addiction, negativity, fear, and control. But Richard, every year? Yep! Joe, in his innocence, thought that after doing this for a number of years it would get easier. Well that was a bad thought. I find that for the first two weeks I am looking for excuses to get the heck out of that cabin. I come up with a lot of EXCUSES but faced with reality, they are not reasons. T.S. Elliott has said ; "human beings can only face, so much reality" ditto for me. The good news is, the tougher that time is in solitude the better one feels after the struggle. It is definitely a struggle. I wonder, is that why so many want to take their computers on vacation so they will have something to distract them when there is down, or quiet time? I read recently that some people turn their vacation time really into hard work. Go, go, go, let us never have time on our hands. This is not a vacation. It is just another type of work, under the guise of vacation time. We are inclined to go from one form of hustle and bustle to another kind. We are deceiving ourselves. No wonder so many want a vacation when they return from their so called "vacation".
When faced with the issues, bubbling up in silence, we will either run away, the ego's choice, or allow one’s self be gently led into deep, and progressive, prayer. This is the choice of the true self. The false is very demanding, and so gets the attention. The true self is the shy, quiet one. One has to listen carefully. We must be led far away, way beyond the noise and clamor, not only to listen, but hear what is it we need to hear. Not necessarily what we want to hear. It is in the quiet, the whisper of the Spirit of Truth expresses it's desire for us. For us who are ever and always the beloved.
Often it is the prayer of desperation, "out of the depths I cry unto you O lord. O God come to my aid, O Lord make haste to help me." Does He hasten? I have been exposed to the fact that my haste, is not God's haste. God's time is not my time. This is something that I have to just not only know but accept. Acceptance is a process. “God's way is not our way, so I have to pray for the gift of my way to be transformed into God's way. What an ongoing struggle that is! Then the two following sayings have a deeper meaning, “No pain no gain", and "growth only comes after death". This is true in everything, both in the physical world and in the world of the spirit.
It was then that I picked up Merton's classic, “No Man Is An Island”, and came to his chapter, "Sentences on Hope" where I read the following;
“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope... He who hopes in God trusts God, Whom he never sees, to bring him/her to the possession of things that are beyond imagination...Supernatural hope is the virtue that strips of all things in order to give us possession of all things. We do not hope for what we have. Therefore, to live in hope is to live in poverty, having nothing. And yet, if we abandon ourselves to the economy of Divine Providence, we have everything we hope for. By faith, we know God without seeing Him. By hope we possess God without feeling His presence. If we hope in God, we already possess Him, since hope is A CONFIDENCE WHICH HE CREATES IN OUR SOULS AS SECRET EVIDENCE THAT HE HAS TAKEN POSSESSION OF US. So, the soul that hopes in God already belongs to Him, since He gives Himself completely to those who give themselves to Him. The only thing faith and hope does not give us is the clear vision of Him Whom we possess. We are united with Him in darkness, because we have to hope, "For in hope we are saved. For hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance", Romans 8:24.