An Abrasive Solitude

_MG_4827One cannot live the life of an anchorite with an expectation of companionship. The journey to draw closer to God often means a journey away from people. To bring Christ into our world is to serve others; to draw closer to God is to leave all behind. It is a paradox. The challenges I face as I learn what it is to be a Benedictine Oblate seem to strike at the core of who I thought I was. I must now be more of the Body of Christ.

In less than a year, and more so within the past few months, I was expelled from groups in which I had been active for several years, in which I had sought friendships, and forced to face an estranged family come to haunt. I feel I must step outside myself to address these relationship issues, and yet, to discern if it is a calling beyond my comfort zone. My spiritual director hit a nail on the head when he said, “A calling by the Holy Spirit is not just a feeling.”

This conflicted desire to go out—for I would rather remain in my rooms—and be a model of Christ in the world has only brought me the disdain of some, and caused others to hate me. Can the desire be, therefore, just a feeling and not a calling?

From my own heartaches I’ve learned to be gentle with others. When someone is mean I don’t assume they’re evil but that there is brokenness in them. Yet when I’m being pushed away and treated coarsely, I still assume it is something I’ve done to initiate their brokenness.

It is hard to silence the devil’s self-deprecating lies that crowd out the Essence of God. When the parasitic Legion comes, I hear in my head the worn tapes of self-loathing…for being unlovable, for again being rejected, for again not being worthy or worth affection. It is (it seems always) the precarious balance between solitude and isolation. Rejection enforces the latter.

There is also a careful balance between wanting, for the love of God, to go home to Him, and the when-will-this-all-end despair of exposure to the earthly sufferings of others.

I struggle to follow God’s will and am often uncertain if it is his will. Is this sensitiveness my cross to bear well? Is the brokenness of the world something sent to rest hard upon my heart, or a grotesque intrusiveness to contaminate my peace? Am I despised because I believe in the teachings of Catholicism or do I bring these teachings offensively into my world? Am I honest in my faith or delusional?

I do not doubt God’s Love and Mercy. I doubt and question the genuineness of my actions.  What is it in the silence of my heart that chafes against the world in which I walk?


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