What to do with the heaviness

I’ve been contemplating that question for the past few days now and it seems like I have three options:

  1. Doom scroll until I’m so scared and angry I become paralyzed by despair
  2. Try and hide from it, ignore it, distract myself
  3. Prayerfully surrender to it and allow it to break and expand my heart  

To be honest, I’ve dabbled in all of the above and none provided relief from the gut wrenching reality of what is. That third option, however, has helped me get unstuck by shaking me awake and providing a way forward.

In a recent blog post entitled “When Belief is Complicated,” Fr. Stephen Freeman wrote that,

Faith is not a matter of 'belief,'  an act of intellectual willing. Faith is a perception of things that do not necessarily appear obvious. In the language of Scripture – 'faith is the evidence of things not seen.' But the perception of faith is similar to the perception of objects beneath the surface of a lake. If the surface is disturbed, the objects disappear. The objects do not go away – but we can no longer perceive them.

In my own personal experience, when the surface of my lake is disturbed by an overload of turbulent ruminations and information, I cease to perceive that eternal perspective revealed only to the simple and attentive.

I’ve been traveling the last couple of days and on my four hour plane ride did some wrestling with my faith via stream of consciousness journaling.

In my notebook I furiously poured out all of the noise and chaos in my head - my deepest fears, my confusion, my indignation. I begged God to stop the violence, to have mercy on Ukraine and on this whole weary world. I wrote and wrote, passionately and with tears in my eyes, until my mind was drained and there was nothing left.

An exhausted quiet settled in - no thoughts, only being, only breathing. For a moment the lake was placid and I could perceive in the depths an unearthly light that both comforted and convicted me.

I saw in that light my own laziness, pettiness, and self-centeredness. I saw my blessings and talents safely buried instead of multiplied. I saw how far I’d fallen short of imitating Christ’s suffering and sacrifice, even unto death, for the sake of love.

Evil thrives on fear and divisiveness, relishing in our hatred, despair and fruitlessness. Our greatest weapons against it are forgiveness and humility, unity and compassion, kindness and generosity, beauty and bravery - lives of active Resurrection.

It is beyond time for me to get to work by getting my hands dirty tending to the wounded, befriending the lonely, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked in my own backyard.

I dare not wish away this heaviness that unites me to the sufferings of others and makes me squirm with the reality of our mortality; my salvation depends on it. But I  know now to turn to stillness for wisdom, strength and even joy in the midst of it.

What is my way forward?

Keeping the turbulence to a minimum and my lake as placid as possible so I can say yes to God. Yes to hope. Yes to bravely pressing on, come what may. 

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