It’s Not My Place to Question

I didn’t know today would be our last

Or that I’d have to say goodbye to you so fast

I’m so numb, I can’t feel anymore

Prayin’ you’d just walk back through that door

And tell me that I was only dreamin’

You’re not really gone as long as I believe.

“Jealous of the Angels” by Jenn Bostic is a song on my list that I play on loop every so often as a cathartic way of breathing out the emotions in my heart. It is a song of loss, particularly from death, but I’ve found it relatable in another way.

My mom had always told us when we were homeschooled that our sisters would always be our best friends. I was never sure I believed that all the way, but it was written as a thick leaf in my book of life as Michaeline, my younger sister nearest in age, became my confidante, my guide, my champion, and my fellow conspirator. And then she was gone. And I could not understand why the one girl I actually looked up to and trusted with all my heart was taken away.

My heart numbed when half of it broke off and ran away after her as she entered the Carmelite cloister. That was two years ago, and it hasn’t gotten easier. Maybe I don’t sit in the quiet darkness of my room and sob my heart out nearly as often as I did the first six months when I missed sharing everything with my sister so much. Maybe now I can see my sister for an hour or two three times a year and enjoy those moments no matter how hard I take it afterwards. But deep down, my heart has become very vulnerable to loss.

In the couple ensuing years, I seem to have a knack for forming deep bonds with the most amazing souls who are then suddenly asked to put out into the deep again and journey far away. Usually they happen to be the dear friends that I clicked with immediately and deeply in vulnerability, caring, laughter, spirituality, nurturing, and the other more goofy things that good friends can do together. Every time it’s the ones I look up to. Every time it opens my heart up again a little more at the throbbing incision inflicted when I gave up my first best friend.

And once more this week this is the point I stand at. Another sweetheart is leaving. The loss is for everyone at school because this particular girl is widely thought of as the kindest, purest person at our small university. In a special way, however, it brings out a deeper hurt in me. Of all last fall’s incoming class, she was the one that I completely bonded with within the first week on our kitchen floor, and from there we only grew closer in an older/little sister bond that had the familiar sweetness of the one with Michaeline. I love and esteem this friend so much. In her I find a comfort and a call to be a better version of myself while she also looks up to me and finds the good things I don’t know about myself. Together we have a treasure. I know that we’ll be visiting each other and keeping in touch, but there’s still a hurt in the separation. That’s when I think of the second verse of Jenn Bostic’s song:

“You always made my troubles feel so small

And you were always there to catch me when I’d fall

In a world where heroes come and go

Well, God just took the only one I know

So I’ll hold you as close as I can

Longing for the day, when I see your face again

But until then…”

Somewhere in the communion of saints and the Church Militant, the ties of our souls are working together for a deeper purpose than chance meetings and fleeting bonds.

I said it never gets easier to not question in the pain. The heart passes through a link of seasons though, and in those seasons I go through different moments of realizing the pain as new ways of growing in a different relationship with the dear, little souls I’ve lost.

“It’s not my place to question, only God knows why…” Sometimes I do ask why we formed such a deep bond. Why yet again a true friendship is taking new directions away from the dynamic of living near each other and into the more spiritual and emotional aspect of long-distance. Why all these moments?

A realization I shared a couple weeks ago with another close friend still here at school comes back to hearten me. These bonds, experiences, and friendships are not like rocks we carry for a bit and then tumble down the trail of life as useless; they are like rocks we build houses or roads with. They are foundations for what comes next, and we will often come back to them in new light or revisit these old haunts throughout life—when we are meant to.

And in that realization, I know that the dear, little, gone souls who have a piece of my heart forever with them are not truly lost. We won’t have a physically close proximity together anymore, but in our bond friendship finds new ways of union and different methods of keeping in touch. The threads that tie us together from so far away were fastened for a reason that only God knows. Their love “lives on inside of me” and I can’t help but “hold on tight.”

Amidst the bittersweetness of the love and loss, hope says that the interweaving of our lives is not over yet. But in the meantime I’ve learned it is okay to find relief and solace in the tears of a strengthening vulnerability to the pain.

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Father of the Young

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Happy feast of St. John Bosco!

I had forgotten it was his feast day—just as I forgot St. Angela Merici’s last week—but I got extremely excited during Mass.

I have to say something. I love John Bosco. That  excitement happens every time I hear about him. To me he is irresistible as a father and priest. All my life, I have loved to read about him, and the more stories I hear the more I wish he was my spiritual director and parish priest. Continue reading “Father of the Young”

Threshold

Tonight is the night we pass through a portal:

A moment upon which every age has lingered,

A threshold which no one has yet crossed.

We are

Living flames issuing from the Cave of Bethlehem,

Glinting across a dark, dark world;

Breathing the prophecy of a new Dawn.

Light enough to guide wandering feet to the Child;

Warm enough to melt frozen souls.

That the trickle of fresh water

May quench the thirst of Jesse’s root,

Springing anew from once weary earth,

Soon stained by the wounds of redemption,

Yet ever untouched by the frost of waiting.

Such a threshold in which the Fire of Love hovers,

This threshold upon which we stand.

 

May you have a blessed Christmas season and a happy New Year!

Advent Mysteries

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My airplane touched down in Milwaukee for Christmas break during a gorgeous and dangerous snowstorm. I spent the last twenty minutes of the flight staring breathlessly out the window as crystals of snow streaked off the plane wings and glittered in the white lights. I was praying the Rosary, but every so often the wintery sight distracted me. For some reason the snowflakes stretching in icy veins off from the wings reminded me of Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the Snow Queen. Then inexplicably wandering as minds often do, a new thought popped into my head: Advent is such a strange time for college students. Continue reading “Advent Mysteries”

Blessed Darkness

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“If it weren’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t see the stars.”

This is one of a collection of random quotes I sticky-noted to my work computer. This past week, it suddenly dawned on me while wrestling with wanting to know everything (meaning particularly The Future, particularly my control over The Future) that maybe that very wanting is why I have to be kept in the dark. Maybe it is so that I learn I don’t need to know everything, and yet it still works out.

Perhaps also though the darkness is a gift. Continue reading “Blessed Darkness”

The Mark of John Paul II

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New Joshua stood in the gates of Hell and led the people on,
Crying, “Open wide the doors to Christ. Be not afraid.” We rose.
He fought. He was born again. The Youth sprang up and fell for Christ.
And still we rise,
Horizon’s blazing stars
Scattering sparks and never burning out
As yet we soar up,
Up into the sky like fountains of flame
And as the gleaming embers penetrate the earth
Where each white-heat touches, a new torch fires up
And the never-ending, dying, immortal triumph marches on
Like the martyrs, living embers, ‘mid this century
When the Church shall rise again.
Rising like the sun of a new dawn,
Roaring like a Lion that once suffered as a Lamb,
Waking all the children sleeping weak within her gates.
For never shall the silence of the holy dead be lost
As the thundering battle cry
of Ver Sacrum
Living echoes on:
Long live Christ the King!

 

(Photo credit: Joshua D. Reznicek)