Ah, friends…thank you so much for your prayers, letters of encouragement, etc.

Though all is cloud and gray around the house…mounds of snow several feet high and wind are causing near white-out conditions on the outside, I’m feeling ever-so-much sunnier on the inside. Those dark clouds are slowly passing, and I’m making friends with suffering. There’s much peace to be found in accepting what can’t be changed and I can’t ask for more than that.

Last night, as I, with great weariness, approached my bed, I spied a small booklet placed quite deliberately on top of my pillow.  Joy In Suffering: According to St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

Hmm.  Didn’t know I owned a copy of that particular book!  Who put it on my pillow?  Hubby says it wasn’t him, and thus far none of the children will own up to it. Perhaps my guardian angel…it is certainly divinely inspired and gave great comfort last night, particularly as I read this:

But she (St. Therese) was human, and so she also asked, “How can the good God, who loves us so much, be happy when we suffer?” There is a touching tenderness and refinement in her playful answer: “Never does our suffering make Him happy, but it is necessary for us; and so He sends it to us, while as it were, turning away His face…I assure you that it costs Him dearly to fill us with bitterness.”

“The good God, who so loves us, has pain enough in being obliged to leave us on earth to fulfill our time of trial, without our constantly telling Him of our discomfort; we must appear not to notice it.

And so I, a most privileged daughter, have been prepared to enter into the Holy Season of Lent in a very special way.  It is time to “give up”, to “surrender” all to the good God.  I had begun to think, with audacity, that I had nothing left to give.  I have what He wills.  This new suffering, the inability to eat those things which in the past made up the whole of my diet, this is His will for me.  But never have I longed more for “bitterness” when everything that I place in my mouth tastes so horribly sweet…

And now, Lent.  What to sacrifice?

These food issues…caffeine, sweets, meat…all of those things which have, in the past, been a source of sacrifice are no longer available to me to give up.  I can’t eat meat.  Or sweets.  Nor can I drink anything other than water.  When left without a “thing” to give up, one must reach deeper.  Our good God knows just how unlikely it is that I will reach that deeply.  So all those other “things” have been taken away.  And I’m left with only my will.

Only…my…will.

The toughest thing for me to ever give over and yet this is His will…and He is actually making it easier for me to do it.  Though it certainly didn’t seem that way a few weeks ago.  No…much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I actually asked to have the pain back, rather than this new cross, one of uncertainty with no promise that I will ever enjoy a meal again.

I never realized how difficult it would be to cook a meal for the sheer joy that it would bring others…not being able to taste or sample the food being cooked without being repulsed!  I discovered that I was quite selfish…that I often prepared these things for the joy it brought me, not my family.  I’m so humbled in this discovery.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but oh, so true.  If you had asked me, I would have told you that all I did in my vocation was for the joy that it brought my family… but when I could no longer share their joy, I found that my bitterness was a real obstacle to giving happiness to others.  I struggled with this for a couple weeks and am please to say, that while my loving actions are still not entirely unselfish, I’ve made a great turn around…and I take real joy in preparing meals now strictly for the enjoyment that it brings to my family.

But I digress…I don’t tell you these things to garner sympathy!  I’m finding that I can do this…that I’ve let too many things become little ‘gods’ in my life.  That my motives haven’t always been as noble as I’d like to think they are…and I can honestly praise God for revealing these failings and for even giving the means, through suffering, to address them.

Yes.  I can finally thank Him, at least for this small cross.  Because it is small, in the grand scheme of things.  I will not die from it, nor will anyone else.  I’m no longer suffering pain, nor does it cause pain.  The hunger issue has been addressed, now that I know that I can eat beef and white rice.  Bland and boring, but hey…it nourishes the body, and that’s good enough.

My prayer life is better…my joy over the simplest things, so very great.  Attending Mass after three weeks away was a day of such happiness…I can’t even begin to adequately express what it felt like, to leave the Confessional with such longing for Holy Communion.  Weeping at rail, embarrassed, but unable to help it.

I beg forgiveness of all of you, my dear friends.  For my laments and darkness.  I would never want to be a stumbling block to any of you, but I do thank you for sharing my little pains and for your precious prayers.  May you all be blessed as you have blessed me…