You can’t teach what you don’t know, Can’t lead where you won’t go

My gracious Lord,

You were so close…You felt so close…throughout our Lent this year. It was truly a holy Lent, and I give thanks for it. I’ve wanted to hold on to the feelings of consolation that I felt. But that’s not how this works.

Life intervenes once again, demanding my attention for tasks I postponed during Lent. I am both relieved to “get back to normal” and missing that special focused time with You. Maintaining that level of focus requires an aestheticism that I don’t feel called to, and yet…am I not?

The zeal for writing here, for allowing my complete focus to be on You, my voice lifted only to You is a tricky thing. I still fall far too easily into writing about me, rather than to You. And yet, I sense Your hand guiding me to keep trying, to continually return to You as my only audience. I felt Your desire for me to write with this great unknowingness, with this complete lack of presumption for Your purpose, this trust that You’re here with me…I felt Your desire for me to learn Your desire for me, to allow myself to trust, to submit, to fall into Your waiting arms. So be it.

As I write, then, I open my heart to Your word for me and leave to You their purpose.

I have to say there are times as I begin, that it seems like I’m talking to myself, but I pray, oh Holy Father, that You give me the grace — that most undeserved, but most precious gift — to hear and to write with Your words.

I had occasion to spend time with people whom You have placed on my path — new friends from church, neighbors, family.

My prayers for our daughter and her fiance and their plans for marriage, seem to be bearing fruit.

I didn’t know what to ask, Father, for them, except that You move their hearts to include You in their wedding plans. That You help both of them to see beyond the party of the wedding, to include their shared love of You in their planning.

I think they intend to, but their unspoken intentions are easy to lose sight of. I pray that You continue to work on their hearts and help them to lean on You. As they grow closer and more trusting in one another, I pray that You help them grow in their trust in You.

Any lack of faith or loving sentiment for You in our daughter’s life is most certainly my fault. I tried to place her in environments where she would learn about You from others more able to show her the way. As I have tried to describe in other places — we can’t teach what we don’t know; we can’t lead where we won’t go. I have not been perfect, or even very good, when it comes to my understanding as she was growing up. Neither my words or my life experience to that point were very helpful. I’ve often thought I exposed her to just enough religious upbringing to inoculate her from the true church. Still, she has a sweet and loving and just heart. She loves You and she knows You love her. Strengthen her in her faith, Father. Nurture those little seeds that I know You have planted in her, and help both her and her fiance to grow strong in their love for You.

Our neighbors invited us to a small, last minute gathering for dinner. And we were invited to an Easter gathering of new friends from church including two Dominican nuns. The differences between the two groups were striking.

With folks from church I probably spoke too much (something I hope You’ll continue to help me overcome). With our neighbors I felt almost muted with no strong desire to use my voice at all. There was a familiar sense of long-ago times when I didn’t know what to say or how to act in groups, feelings that were always accompanied by the discomfort of not fitting in even as I knew I didn’t much want to fit in.

This most recent experience didn’t have this particular discomfort, so much as there was a certainty that I don’t have much in common with them and didn’t wish to spend much time there. I’ve been praying pretty regularly for our hosts who are both fallen-away Catholics. Maybe You have more to show me with them as time goes by, but I’ll wait to follow Your lead, if it’s something You feel strongly about me participating in.

Our older daughter and her son continue too as sources of interior conflict and sadness. She periodically shuts us out of her life — literally: not keeping appointments; avoiding calls and messages, even when we said we were worried and intended to call the police if we didn’t hear from her. When we did call the police to ask that they check on her, she became very angry with us and hasn’t communicated since. I vacillate between feeling as though we are doing everything we can — we pray for her multiple times daily, give money and time and counsel and sympathy — to little effect. And feeling as though she may not be fully in control of her situation due to possible addictions, trauma at birth affecting her in ways we don’t understand. Yet, even if all those things are true, how does it help? Sympathy and love are already part of our automatic responses. Frustration and giving up and letting go are there too…praying You, Father, will have mercy on them and lead them to people or resources that will help them find their way to You. What else can we do? At 42 years old she was beyond our control and even our influence long ago…but maybe not beyond our prayers. I pray so.

So I bring all these concerns to You, Holy Father, as we move forward from this year’s Lent. Please look kindly on us, accept our gratitude for all Your consolations during Lent and throughout our lives, and take these sadnesses and concerns into Your holy care. If there are ways that You want me to walk, people You want me to seek out, to care for, please let me know. For now, this writing You’ve asked me to do blesses me. It allows me to feel Your touch, to hear Your words for me. Maybe for others, too? As Thomas Merton said, ‘I don’t know if my actions are pleasing to You, but I hope that my desire that they are pleasing to You, does in fact please You.

I pray that You continue to help me empty myself of myself, so that more and more Your light may shine through me to others. Help me ‘to give what You ask, and to accept what You give, with Joy and and big smile,’ as Sister St. Teresa of Calcutta used to pray.

I love you Holy Father and Your son, Jesus Christ, and pray that together with Your Holy Spirit, You three will continue to bless me and keep me, and those loving ones about me, in Your care.

I ask these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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