Posted tagged ‘laughter’

Garbage

May 13, 2010

One of my weaknesses was getting the better of me and I was embarrassed as I talked with God about it. I could feel the usual downward spiral starting to turn: weakness>feeling bad about being weak>feeling bad about feeling bad..and down we go. I brought myself up short. Not going there this time!

Just then a little memory came to mind. Whenever we visit my husband’s parents (on their farm), I beg for their garbage. I want ashes from their woodstove and manure from the barn to fertilize my garden. I pick edible weeds from their yard (my husband’s allergic to most salad greens, but he can have the weeds!). I pick stinging nettle (natural antihistamine–it loses its sting when you cook it or put it through the blender). I ask for old soda bottle to make watering reservoirs in the garden (etc.). They laugh at me (good-naturedly, of course! :). But these things are all useful to me…and not to them. It’s a win-win situation.

Then I heard the still small Voice: “I want your garbage.
I can use it. You can’t. Give it to Me.”…and I laughed at Him!

Then I wept…because He is SO GOOD!…so sweet to turn my fears, my disgrace, my mourning, my failure…into laughter! (I was reminded that the name “Isaac” means laughter–the son of the promise, but also a son born out of repeated failures). He doesn’t just want tidy packages, either. Just as I go out shoveling manure & picking weeds, He wants to get right down in the yucky stuff with me to shovel the manure of my soul and and pick and uproot the nettles for fertilizer and medicine.

“You have a use for everything, don’t You, Lord”

“Of course I do”

“For You love all things that are
and loathe nothing that You have made;
for what You hated, You would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless You willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by You?
But You spare all things, because they are Yours,
O Lord and lover of souls,
for Your imperishable spirit is in all things!” -Wisdom 11:24-12:1

Our job is not so much getting rid of things or destroying them as releasing them so You can order them to the best good. All is gift…and You only give good gifts (James 1:17). The darkness cannot overcome (John 1:5).

“Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life”
(Psalm 23:6)…no matter how awful things seem to me…(Romans 8:28)

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Heaven

May 6, 2010

One of our RCIA participants asked about Heaven the other day.  “What’s your personal idea of what Heaven is like?  What’s the goal of all this that you’re telling us?”  My husband fielded that question (he’s the Q&A man), but it got me thinking.  It’s an excellent question that we can never exhaust (a good example of a mystery).

As a small child, St. Therese of Lisieux used to just sit and think about Heaven.  It was her first experience of meditation (although she didn’t know the word at the time).  The last night the twins St. Scholastica and St. Benedict spent together they were talking about Heaven (it was a memorable night–St. Scholastica had asked her brother to stay & he refused–it was against his Rule–so she prayed & wept & God sent so fierce a storm that Benedict couldn’t leave!).  When St. Clare begged St. Francis to have a meal with her, they got so wrapped up in talking about Heaven that they completely forgot about the food.  People from the surrounding area saw flames leaping high into the sky and came running with buckets of water to put out the fire–only to find that it was not a material fire at all.  All they found were the saints deep in holy conversation.  Good things happen when we turn our hearts to our final end.

Unfortunately for us, the actual words of those meditations and conversations have not been recorded.  So what is Heaven like?  Why should we want to go there?  Sitting on clouds playing harps all day–at least as we know harps and clouds now–would get boring.  And whatever Heaven is, it’s not boring!  (just read the book of Revelation!)  Boredom is of hell, born of an inner emptiness and dissatisfaction.

I started my own mental juices flowing with two questions: “When have you felt most alive?”  That’s a dim foreshadowing of Heaven (Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full”-John 10:10).  And “What do you enjoy?”  All good things will be perfectly fulfilled in Heaven.  We will find them in God.  Will we dance in Heaven?  I like to think so, but if it’s not dance, it’ll be something that makes me feel even more alive, even more radiant.

For me, beauty is a source of life and enjoyment.  In Heaven, everyone will be so beautiful!  And we will see their true beauty.  That in itself would be worth the effort to get there!

One day God showed St. Catharine of Siena the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her.  “O my God!” she cried out, “if I did not know that there is only one God, I should think that this was one!” The blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catharine thought of the sweet light of the morning, and of the beautiful colors of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul which she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. “My father,” she answered, “I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh! if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a hundred times for its salvation! No, nothing in this world can bear any resemblance to it.  I asked the angel who was with me,” she continued, “what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me: It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful. -The Catechism in Examples, http://www.catecheticsonline.com/Catechism_Example.php

Just reading the lives of the saints opens up a window into Heaven–they’re there, in all their humility and peace, self-sacrifice and winsomeness.  The saints loved everyone here on earth, and they love even more perfectly now in Heaven.  Like the saints, everyone in Heaven will love each other, will be thrilled with each others’ company, will communicate exactly what they mean, openly, warmly.  There will be nothing to hide (and no way to hide), no wondering, “what does he really think?” We will all be in harmony, a healthy holy family, everyone looking out for the best good of everyone else.

There will be lots of laughter.  I think of the Poor Clare nuns I visited when I was discerning my vocation.  They were so happy!  So free.  They laughed so often, so merrily.  Heaven will be like that, but without the need for cloister walls.

There will be music, ravishingly beautiful (Revelation 5:9, 14:3, 15:3).  The story is told of St. Francis that he begged God to let him hear the music of Heaven.  God refused, warning him that he wouldn’t be able to bear it.  “Just one note,” begged Francis–and woke from a coma three days later!

There will be a common community energy such as I’ve felt at large Catholic conferences (I suppose most people experience a secular version of it at sporting events).  The praise of God will be a mighty roar (Revelation 14:2, Isaiah 42:11, etc.) and we will be caught up in it, borne up by it.

Freedom.  Peace.  Home.  Welcome.  Rest without boredom.  Filled, satisfied, but always more.  Clean.  Beautiful.  No sin!  Loved, cherished, delighted and a source of delight.  Understood, perfectly, completely.  Celebration (the wedding banquet of the Lamb, see  Revelation 19:7-9).  The only fear will be fear of the Lord, which isn’t a “scary” thing, but rather an awesome, soul-expanding reverence.  Heaven will be familiar, both in the sense of being family and in the sense of reminding us of everything we’ve ever known and loved.  We will feel like we belong there–we do!  It will be precious, valuable, lavish, generous, pulsing with life (I’m reminded of the world in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian where the jewels were alive).

We’ll get to share all of the wonderful stories of how God’s worked in our lives–constant inspiration (as if the Presence of God Face to face wasn’t inspiration enough!)

And this isn’t even touching the wonder of our experience of God Himself. I’m reminded of Dante’s Paradisio, where even the heights of Purgatory were dazzling.  When he reached Heaven, he couldn’t fathom anything more glorious than the least of the saints.  His ability to take in glory was “maxed out” and he was blinded by the splendor, emerging on the other side with strengthened, heightened senses that could take in more as he rose higher and higher in Heaven.

This is the joy and fullness that overflows from the saints in Heaven now, spilling over onto us when we pierce the clouds with shafts of prayer.  Goodness rains down.  We expect so little when they have so much and are so eager to share!

My heart expanded to take in more of this divine generosity…and spread it around down here…


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