I have been very lucky to have been on a journey with my husband of 22 years (that's right, next weekend is our anniversary) and I have never really felt alone in my quest. In fact, my husband has been the one to set my feet back on the path time and time again. But, even so, the commonality of purpose among other families (you know, the people who don't leave their shoes in the middle of my living room floor) is very important for feeding my faith.
I was very blessed to find such people when I was still a young mother. There was prayer, discussion, advice, hugs, lots of coffee and lots of love. These are the friends who grieved with us and offered pilgrimages and fasting for our family through some of the most devastating trials a person can imagine. These are the friends who rejoiced when my husband and I put our lives back together, even when members of our own family couldn't understand why we would try again. I treasure their friendships and, though I don't attend Mass with them anymore, I still hold them close in my heart and in my prayers. And when I have the chance to see them, it's like we were never apart.
But, sometimes, you get called where you don't want to go. Sometimes, you get called to walk that path alone for a while. Not because God wants you to be lonely, but because he wants you to really rely on him for your sustenance. And that's where I am now.
It's not that there are no disciples in my current parish. It's that they all have a completely different experience of life than I do. They are either much older than I am or have a completely different social background. And, as often as I reach out to connect, the connection seems somehow false or inauthentic. It shouldn't be, because we all worship together. We pray together. Their faith and their desire for discipleship is real and I even have friends, but there's a distance that I can't traverse.
Until recently, I had a connection with the Pastor, but this summer we got a new pastor. Of course,with the new pastor have come changes. Some of those changes I am very uncomfortable with. So now, the gulf seems even greater than before. I feel pushed out and abandoned. I feel completely isolated.
And it hurts. Actually, it aches.
Is it time to move on? Should I move aside and let someone who has new ideas and a call to share their gifts with the parish take my place? Have I made my music ministry an idol, as Elizabeth Scalia suggests in her book, "Strange Gods". I am back in school studying something completely new: English, not Music. This is a complete departure from the life I've been living for the past 25 years. I am also a newly-minted empty nester with a grandchild. There are so many possibilities. Do I throw myself into something new, or am I supposed to just stay where I am?
As I have been mulling over how to fix the problem, I have spent a great deal of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament thinking about what to do. Sometimes the noise in my head is so loud that I can't even keep the lines of communication with myself open, much less with God. But yesterday, in a moment of clarity, I realized that I have been much more concerned with what I want, than what God is calling me to do. All the noise in my head is my own making and if I will just be still, if I will just listen, I will hear. It's not my problem to fix. As usual, I have taken everything on myself and said, "That's okay, God. Hang on. I've got this."
No, I have to have help. Because without God's help that path is terrifying.
Jesus promises that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, but first we have to accept that burden. I have been spending so much time creating my own burdens that I have completely cast off his. It's when we try to walk that road alone, without Jesus, that the yoke becomes hard, the way becomes rocky and narrow, and we fall into despair.
Obedience is never easy. It's especially hard for head-strong ladies like me because it requires true humility. But, it's essential to the life of a disciple. You must humble yourself in order to obey. And you must obey because God would never lie to you. He would never lead you astray.
Thankfully, God is patient with me. He just keeps calling and when I finally accept the burden he gives me, things look much better. So, while having companions on the journey is an important part of the path to God, it's not the only way. Sometimes, you just have to learn to rely on God alone.
How will I continue the work I've begun this summer? For right now, I plan to stay put. This is where God put me and this is where I am needed. The Sisters and I plan to begin our English Bible Class in September and we'll see where that takes us next. I am hoping that working with a smaller community within the parish and building our faith and knowledge together will help bridge that chasm I am feeling. For right now, I am just walking the path until God shuts doors and trying to remember to be humble and obedient.