ASH #9: A bet with God

God, a deity, who is supposed to be bigger, badder and better than me, or you. I suppose because I’ve never seen him. Although I have a tome of 73 books that I read at breakfast & dinner that tells me so. Yet (most) of these authors don’t see Him either. I’m hopelessly falling into the David vs. Goliath cliche with this, but I’ve got enough vinegar to not care. Oh, you don’t care for vinegar….some vodka then? Dern not vodka, fine yo-yo, I’ll give you single malt scotch whiskey. So yeah, this quiet social worker with her scotch takes on God. Lemme back up for a minute, I wasn’t always a social worker or a scotch imbiber, those come with time. But a bet with God, the one and only Deity in my life, shot that’s just tomfoolery. Yet, I made it. I was fresh out of life (like that feeling you have when you’re out of tp and you gotta go?). How in tarnation I was standing, breathing or moving…must’ve been God’s Will ‘cuz it sure as heck not mine. Nosiree in 2005, living took too much effort. My mind & craw were jammed full of other thoughts like pills, death, funerals and what color roses would cover a fresh mound of dirt. God would have it that I practically wander into the funeral Mass for someone I once knew, and make a bet – more like a threat:

I’m giving you one last chance. It better be good, because I can’t live like this. If it’s not good, I’m gone. I’ll leave you for good.

Er, what? Some chick blackmailed God. If He wanted/wants me, He’ll have to come and get me. Otherwise I’d crossover to the not-so Catholic side of things. It’s hard to tell who’s winning, but I’ll let Him claim it.

Spiritual Warfare

For two weeks I’ve seen this coming, sort of.  Let me explain, and perhaps fictional literature is better to do the job at this than my direct experience?

At any rate this is the way I choose to express my Self and my Experience at the moment.

 — — — — — 
I think THIS would be a good introduction.
At the misty shoreline, Frank paused as Scott chose to break the silence by skipping a rock.  Looking up from the dead leaves he had been shuffling against yellow and red lake rocks, Frank’s eyes pierced through the older man, boring past him to an unseen point.

“They care, you know.”

Frank was silent, digging his hands deeper into his pockets and his feet just shuffled against the remaining reminders of fall.  Turning from Scott, he gazed over the lake, watching the wafts of mist rise before the sun turned the sky yellow.  Breathing in slowly, he exhaled, “Never said it was about them.”

“Then, tell me.  You’ve got to tell someone, don’t you?  Can’t say you’re not busting at the seams to tell someone.”

Swallowing, Frank continued looking to the opposite horizon of the lake while the camp lay in slumber behind them.  “Ever get an invitation from a distant friend?  You feel obliged for what you once had with them, but now you don’t have much connecting you anymore?  It’s not like that.  This is like your best friend asking you to consider a serious decision that benefits both of you.”  Frank looked expectantly at Scott, who was more pensive than passive, “Go on.”

“Well, like I’ve told Thom, it’s kind of like praying at church.  I’m talking to a Friend about things that would benefit both of us, once we’ve each heard the other and considered whether the gain is worth the battle.”

“What battle.”

Frank looked at Scott like he was a fool, “Souls.  God asked me to help fight for the Souls that have the least inkling of belonging to Him.  What were you thinking I was going to say?”

“Not a clue.  Good and Evil is hardly convincing these days.”

The teen shrugged his flannel-clad shoulders, “It’s been called worse.”

“How’d you get to this point?”

“What point? Quiet?  God’s not in the loud wind, right?”

With a nod of his head to the right, Scott conceded.  “What happens? Where do you go?”

“Where do you go in the boundary blurriness between sleep and waking?  God uses that space, for me, to enter into His realm.  At first I was scared and unable to do very much at all.  I was answering the phone, so to speak, or returning the R.S.V.P.  Now that boundary just stretches out before me.  I really can’t explain what really happens.  As for where I go, I’m still right here.”

Scott nodded, longer curls than his brother bobbed along.  Turning his gaze in the same direction of Frank’s he let silence slip over them for a while.  Breaking it, “So, God asks you to fight for souls.  How do you know which ones?”

“I don’t.  He tells me and I heed.”

“How does He tell you?”

“Mary’s the four-star General of His Army.  It’s marching all around every day even though you can’t see or feel the trembling of it’s force.  I’ve experienced their power, since I’m not the only one living that joins forces with the commanders and generals, which you must know are the saints.  Mary lets me know.”

“Mary.”

“Yes.”  With that Frank turned from Scott and wandered a bit further along the shoreline, signalling with his body language the exploration was over.  If Scott wanted more, he’d have to chisel through Frank’s armour, or enter God’s world.

Letting Go

In teaching Confirmation this past year, I have been on more retreats, and attended Mass than I originally thought I would be doing. On days that I was teaching my kids, as I’ve come to call them, I went in the morning at my own parish so that I could pray and focus on the Sacrifice, as the evening Mass with my kids after we finished teaching would be spent shushing them and reminding them to spit out their gum.

Through out the year I have found time to pray for my kids, and fretted over them like a spiritual mother hen.
Then I was so nervous for them on Friday evening when they were received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Here, they are, standing before God and Church, Angels and Demons, declaring that they are Catholic. Were they ready? Would any of them return for Mass on Sunday of their own volition and Love of God? I spent the Mass and remainder of the evening praying that they would. I did all I could for them, invoking the protection, guidance, and love of the Angels, Saints, their Guardian Angels, and the Patrons they had chosen for themselves.
But if I constantly and consistently worry over these teens, their ability to understand and defend the Faith and against Satan, what was I letting God do? So, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I let go, grabbed my St Benedict cross, and went to sleep.

Reflection for Good Friday

It is vast, and ageless. Eternal, and that is the most striking feature. Through the centuries there have been these people, seeming fools, that join the crusade, and fight. Some have solid proof for joining forces, others leap straight into it, and may discover their reason for joining along the way, or just as they perish in the fight. I’ve never bothered to understand it, I just oppose their forces. An mortal army fighting for an immortal cause few fully grasp, against my immortal and fearsome forces. Yet, it is I that trembles as their battle cry resounds.

One battle mattered more than any of the others, as it was the one that brought my defeat, and I’ll never forget the words of their Leader, “It is finished.” My forces shook more in that moment than His earthquake, and a pall cast over us darker than His clouds and thunder. Whenever possible, we take no prisoners, although we gladly accept all who defect.

Even now, in their idea of time, their army is taking hits from all sides, even within as their defectors cross back into His camp. Yet, there is a solid core and the newcomers and young ones, make it so difficult for us to continue our rampage. Few, but strong headed and claiming righteous anger, their generals are granting them permission. The Wind is blowing and their sails are unfurled; their weaponry forever loaded and ready. Marching, crying, the wholeness shakes, and I cringe at what is to come. And has already come.

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A couple weeks ago, I can’t exactly recall all the details, but I read something that said the Devil does not see the Church (all Christians) as we see it, right here and now, but across the whole span of time. It sees the Church as a vast and spiritually immortal army, against which the Devil’s gates will not prevail. Since then, I have heard messages on Christian radio that echoes the sentiment. Later, an image came to mind during prayer, one of a vast army full of saints and sinners all claiming faith in Christ, the whole of Christianity from the beginning through now, perhaps even beyond. Different races, ages, types of dress, etc. And the whole vast army was marching, and it was a great and terrible sight to behold.

It wasn’t my imagination, I can’t drum it up again now writing it, and its distant and imperfect like a memory.

Satan does not see you and I as separate entities, but as a whole Eternal army under the direction of God the Father and Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit saecula saeculorum.