Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sanctuary: Moments of Joy, Peace, and Truth

Unexpected moments of joy can often arise from any number of circumstances.  Yet, for me, there are also certain places and things that automatically, and usually instantaneously, make me happy.  I have of late been pondering this matter, and how it is truly remarkable.  Three examples in particular come to mind.

I love Adoration.  As my church has a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel, I feel truly blessed. Whenever I go there, it is as if a large weight has been lifted, as if I am finally home.  I feel the greatest form of joy . . . peace. God's peace.  True Peace.  As I gaze at the Blessed Sacrament, I know that He is with me . . . and prayers quietly unravel themselves, threads that may gently tiptoe, or, perhaps, tumble forward, to reach the Great Tapestry.  An inexplicable beauty surrounds me.  No, perhaps, not inexplicable.  But so difficult to explain because of its intensity.  Yes, I am home.  Life suddenly seems to make more sense.  I may not receive the answers to my prayers, spoken or unspoken, in that moment, but I leave this world away from the world with peace, peace and some level of understanding I cannot quite comprehend---but know exists---and everything suddenly seems beautiful.  Everything is beautiful.  Life is beautiful.

Perhaps it is just that.  The places and things and situations that give us the most joy are those in which we feel the presence of God so strongly.

For me, the sea is another special place.  It is my "sanctuary".  When I catch my first glimpse of the sand-scattered shore, of the tumbling waves laughing and dancing and being, I know that I have come home.  It's as if this place, this world, were waiting for me.  And I suddenly come to understand that I have been waiting for this return every moment of my existence, even when I do not recognize it as such. I have a close connection to this place.  I am an Ocean Girl.  Although it may be difficult to explain, I sense God's presence especially strongly there.
I feel joy . . . peace . . . love.  I gaze at the waves before me and see Truth . . . eternity at a glance.  I feel freedom.  I feel like a child again.

My last example in this reflection is rather different, as it is not a place . . . per se.  It is a thing, but so much more than a thing.  It is a symbol, a piece of God's creation, and, as such, is Beauty that may be viewed as a world unto itself. 
It is an elegant maze known as the rose.  For some reason, whenever I am handed a rose, I immediately feel happy.  Its presence gives me instant joy.  If I'm in a bad mood, it improves.  If I already was feeling great, I feel even better. There's something about a rose that is just special to me.  Beauty found in simplicity that is really not simple at all but complicated . . . but the complicated receives its beauty through the lens of simplicity.  (Yes, I realize that that may make little sense.  But, hey, if a rose is a maze, then perhaps my description of it should likewise be "maze-like".)

Yet roses took on even more meaning for me as I embarked on a difficult road that eventually led to a beautiful---and completely unforeseen---miracle.  For, along the way, God showed me hope . . . hope in the form of a rose.

One day, when things were particularly difficult, I found myself slipping on a scapular prior to leaving for my destination.  I silently prayed, "God before, God behind me, God above me, God around me" as I walked forward.  That day, a rose was given to me in seemingly the most random of circumstances.

On the scapular that I wore was the image of Mary surrounded by roses.   

My difficult day was suddenly filled with hope.

To some, this instance would seem coincidental.  Yet I saw it as a sign of hope from God.  I somehow just knew that it was.  I thought briefly of the "rose" scapular that I had started to wear that very day . . . but thought of it even more in the days that followed.

For, in the days that followed, roses---whether a "real" rose or in some other form--- began to appear right around when things got especially difficult, when I was feeling especially discouraged or upset. The timing was impeccable.   And, eventually, the rose reached full blossom and I was delivered from a seemingly impossible situation.

Perhaps the symbol of the rose was especially fitting . . . not only because it has always, unbeknownst to most, been special for me, but because it is also the symbol of our Lady.  Christ's mother was praying for and with me.

May the roses in your life be ever present.