“Prayer is nothing more than spending a long time alone with the one I know loves me” St Teresa of Avila
“This is the only reality. I love you and I take care of you” Jesus to Sr Mary of the Holy Trinity
Faith is a mysterious thing.
I really believe we wouldn’t be able to live this way if it wasn’t a supernatural gift. I am trying to imagine what it is like for us, and for Jesus.
You go through your day, at times speaking to Jesus silently in your head, where no one else can hear. He is the witness of all your emotions, thoughts, and experiences as they are lived from within you, rather than as a totally outside observer. You tell Him about the various problems and concerns, and the line-up that’s making you late for something, and the struggles so particular to you that other people would probably not really understand. He sees the things you don’t put into words but that are there: the wonder of the sunset you saw through the bus window, or the hurt after someone’s remark that resurfaces throughout the day, as you’re trying to do other things.
Throughout all this, you have the sense that God is really, undeniably there. There’s a real assurance about this, yet how it is there you can’t quite explain. You don’t always feel Him… but it’s something deeper, like you just know.
It is very consoling, to have Someone so close to you, to be actually in you, aware of absolutely everything that is going on. Even such little things. Someone who knows the entire reason not just for the big habitual struggles, but the tears that almost came to your eyes, even just one tear. Someone who watches every beat of your heart. With time, you begin to get an interior sense of what He is like.. you begin to recognize Him.
How to describe Him? You don’t know how. But sometimes, when He’s closer, you begin to feel a recognition, a joy, and then you find a deep and new love within yourself. You begin to feel like you are in contact with a Person who really means something to you. And then, He begins to mean quite a lot. You find yourself thinking more and more of Him, as you’re just going through your day. No one around you is aware of these secret thoughts as you are simply drinking coffee or walking through the grocery store. It strikes you one day that if they knew, they would probably think you are very strange.
With a sudden love you never knew in the past, you want to give yourself entirely to Jesus, and you are surprised that you could feel this so strongly. It takes an act of trust to do this, because somewhere deep inside we are afraid of this kind of vulnerability or absolute commitment. But Jesus immediately responds too, and you feel like no human love could ever compare. It is like a secret in your heart, between you and Jesus.
It is amazing that we can know something without seeing it or receiving it through the senses. How do we know He is there? Yet He is. We don’t see Him, and that’s how it would be for most people. But the gift of faith gives a deep certain sort of knowing.
Yet is also true that sometimes we want more. We would want to see, even though we don’t ever dare to ask this. We are amazed reading about the mystics who experienced God so powerfully. There’s something painful in being this close to Someone without being able to perceive the presence more directly. We can take a walk with a friend, talk to them, see them, hear their voice, reach out and touch them. But Jesus, who is in the deepest part of our being, whose Presence secretly permeates our whole life, remains invisible. Perhaps occasionally we feel or hear Him in our hearts, but sometimes when we wish that He would speak He chooses to remain silent. We go through times of spiritual dryness.
There is a longing in our hearts that only Heaven would be able to satisfy. The most significant moments in our lives would not be able to be replayed enough times, for us to stop seeking. Even experiencing God’s presence ends up increasing this longing. We would feel it until the moment we see God face to face, as He is the infinite Source of everything we have ever sought.
There are moments when we are just desperately holding on to faith. We are faced with trials everywhere, but it seems like Jesus is asleep in our souls as He was in the boat with the Apostles. At that moment, you can’t remember anymore what it was like when His Presence was felt. The previous life feels so distant, and you are caught up in a storm that you don’t know how to handle. Your faith tells you that He is still there, and is upholding you by His grace, because without His grace, you wouldn’t be going on. Somehow, you keep going, but you also lie awake at night wondering what is happening, and where He is, and you cannot shake off the terrible perception that you have lost Him.
Why has He disappeared, at this moment when I need Him most? Why would love do this? You wonder. You see yourself more for what you really are, without the previous illusions, or the illusions others have. You see all the misery inside, that no one else could even know, much less understand, and you feel alone with it.
The past stands before you in its unalterable reality. You stand in the company of sinners, not as an outsider looking in, but as another sinner. You see now what it was really like. Before, you tried to ignore, excuse or numb yourself to this sudden perception. You didn’t want to admit so much imperfection.. it is easier to hide it among the sins of others, to pretend it is not of any importance. You realize that in your weakness, you NEED God, because only His grace provides a support that is strong enough, and another foundation would crumble.
And so, Jesus sees all of this hidden interior within us. He sees you crying, worn out, or confused. You are being held, very closely, and carried, but you are not aware of this.
There are other moments too. You begin to understand something about Jesus. He is being vulnerable too. The invitations you resisted or ignored.. the love He wanted to give as you were blindly seeking it elsewhere.. the trials that He allows for our good, which we responded to by running from Him, doubting, or bitterly complaining. Jesus knows that by sharing with us what is most precious to Him… His own Cross, experienced through suffering; the most powerful and dearest sign of His love… He risks rejection from us.
Still He waits and waits, and forgets the painful wounds that we continue to inflict on His Heart, His gaze so penetrating but kind and respecting of our liberty – the liberty which we have misused to crucify Him. He looks upon us who have contributed to His death, with such limitless compassion – as upon those whom He counted to be dearer than His own life.
Slowly, you begin to understand that no matter what happens, no matter what has ever happened, you are absolutely precious to Him, because He is Love.
Here is One who was always your Friend. Your Best Friend. Your Beloved. He was always who you needed Him to be. He has longed for you so deeply.
You see that somehow, miraculously, you are suddenly forgiven and beautiful in His eyes. He has seen you truly as you are, and loved. You know that no one would ever or could ever love you like this, nor are you capable of loving anyone in this infinite way. He simply delights in you, and this heals the pain of feeling unloved and unlovable. He wants you to not look at the trials anymore, but to just look at Him, be still and rest.
This life with Jesus is not a lesser substitute for another life we wish we had. It is not something we resort to as a second best choice because we don’t have a specific human love. No human love could be enough for a heart made for the infinite.
Let Jesus look at you. Let Him see you, simply as you are, not putting up any barriers or trying to impress Him or hiding anything. There’s a part in your heart that is really secret from everyone else, maybe even from you, and it is like a locked door. If it has always been locked, it was for this moment, to open it to Jesus alone, that He may come in.
But there is a danger of keeping it locked even from Him. Is it fear that prevents it from being opened?
Here is One who is worthy.
He will not misunderstand.
He will not back away.
He will not give up.
He will not respond with anger.
He will come as a Merciful Saviour
He wants to share your every thought, every emotion.
He wants to share Himself with you, to give Himself.
He knows what it would cost Him if you say no, but He doesn’t force His way in. He is meek and humble.
Allow Him to silently look into the very depths of your being, and simply let Him in.
His gaze is unspeakably tender and compassionate. He knows all about your heart, and what to do to heal you, and how to do it. He knows how much you can take at the given moment.
Look at Him with the eyes of your heart.
He has waited a long, long time for you, because from before the beginning of the world He knew that you would exist, and that one day He would come and find you.