Fiery Darts

‘Fiery darts’ is how Paul puts it. Abba Anthony described being tormented by demons while he was in the desert. Teresa of Ávila talks about snakes and reptiles and ghastly creatures prowling and snapping. On these days, when my nights are filled with nightmares and general nasty stuff, I wake to the ugliness of unrelenting flashbacks, a barrage swift and sharp, just like those fiery darts. They claw at you. I can even smell the ‘event(s)’.

 

When I went to the Celebrate Recovery conference in 2012, the founder of Celebrate Recovery, John Baker, spoke of those so broken that the only thing they respond to, the only thing they can do is to sing songs of worship. Here again is another paradox, another moment when God turns the world on its head. I remember that Thérèse de Lisieux says that, although we are so small, we possess a God-given dignity. She also wrote:

 

‘My will is to endure, by Love,

The Darkness of my exile here’

 

So then, it is love that makes me choose to get up from this table, to do the things I need to do, in love, for my family. And I will lift my head and sing praises. Because God is good. And God is always.

 

Thérèse looking pensive

Thérèse looking pensive

You can read more about Thérèse here: http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/meditations-on-little-way-epilogue-dark.html

 

Twenty Years? O Still, Small Voice of Calm

Abba Anthony, the first monk (I think?), certainly the first of the Desert Fathers, went into the desert as a young man. There he stayed for 20 years, wrestling with temptations of one sort or another. As regular readers will know, I asked God to use this period of Lent to show me my weaknesses (what in the name of sanity did I do that for? It was quite pleasant having one’s head buried in the sand). Lent is around six weeks in length. Not even 1% of Abba Anthony’s time. I ask myself, as I begin to recognise the significance of sacrifice, what is the level of my sacrifice? Do I need to sacrifice, or do I just need to say ‘yes’ or ‘God, help me’? I do not know the answers to these questions.

After my prayer asking God to show me my weaknesses, He has been gentle in His revelations. But today, good Lord! Tormented today by temptation. Days like today… it’s no wonder it took Anthony two decades. But God is always good. This I know.

 

‘Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.’

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.