Asceticism- self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence; rigorous self-denial; austerity; extreme plainness, simplicity
“He had found refuge, outside the confines of human society,” Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe
Our universal self-seeking is in our quest for fulfillment. I find it somewhat odd that in the confines of my own journey there has been much ado about self-sacrifice. From fasting to simplicity, to veiling to contemplative prayer, when the Lord led me to the Catholic church, He led me back to my roots in the temple, back to the reverent and holy way I communicated with Him.
I think that everyone communicates with God in their own unique way. Like a secret language, God beckons us in ways that only our innermost parts understand. When I was young, I can remember wanting more than anything to be an Orthodox Jew. The conservative temple followed some of the rules, but not all, and I wanted to be all in for God. I wouldn’t explain it as legalism per se, but more of a want and a need to please God in the only way I knew how. So I used to pretend that my head was covered and my skirts were long and in my mind I was at peace. There is no way that a child of eleven could have dreamed this on her own. It is only through God that we have the desire for eternity which has been placed in our hearts.
In the in- between part of the journey, I stayed still but still moved from place to place. It was not long into my Christian journey that I sensed a longing to pray in the silence of a church. And although some churches that I visited had access to a chapel, they all seemed so cold. The rooms all felt empty and missing the element of the Spirit. They were just rooms. And every time I entered one, something would happen and I was forced to leave. This went on for six months until I found myself in the parking lot of a Catholic church. Crying, I would spend time on the phone with a dear friend of mine who encouraged me, “Go inside.” I didn’t know it then, but it was the Lord’s voice. “Go in.”
The gloriousness of finding my way to the Blessed Sacrament was a road less traveled. It was a pain staking, surreal and bumpy journey through hearing the innate calling of my being, the still small voice, and the tour guides that God so graciously provided me. The funny thing is that like Paul from Just me Being Curious (and his glorious post from today Say My Name) I have found God through those who believe and those who don’t. If we believe that God is the master creator of all things, then why couldn’t we believe that He uses all things?
When I finally made my way into the chapel, I had made my way to God. It was not the way I imagined it would happen, and it was unpopular, but it was the way. And since that time as I have continued to make my way every Wednesday into the chapel, I have been filled with an increased sense of love, a belonging to God, and an ability to see everything that He has made, and it is good.
I pray that for you, that rather than remain in a state of doubt or constancy, that you seek out the calling in your heart, the “sixth” sense, the ache for something more. If you abandon yourself to the notion that there is something bigger than you, your surrender will be that much sweeter.
In my self-denial and plainness of soul, I am uniquely me. God knew that, and God knows your insides too. Seeking and the discipline of holiness are a forever journey, but one that grows much richer as the search gets deeper.
So place your hands up and surrender to the journey, the road not traveled, the one that is calling you by name.