When the devil figured out my milestone in ceasing to make huge plans, he got me hooked on little ones. Let’s start there.
Sometimes, when I actually have some legitimately free time, and have been wise enough not to waste it on Facebook, I go through old blog posts. I’ve been doing this here and there with the intention of cleaning/purging; there’s so much I’ve written that I’m not at all proud of! But I don’t find a lot to purge past November 2009, and I think that’s important, and I think that now, I know why.
When I first started this blog [at estelioveleth.blogspot.com] in 2005, at the tender age of 14, I did blog just for the heck of it. It’s been terribly embarrassing, going through those one-line posts, sometimes four or five of them in a day, sometimes all within the same hour, sometimes simply to proclaim that I had nothing to say. How lame can you get at 14, Ais? I’ve deleted about 90% of those early posts… Then, on my [golden] birthday, I had Brad and Julz over for drinks and snacks and a decent catch-up, and they talked about the 18-year-old Aurora that they knew, that everyone used to get annoyed at for being so happy all the time. And my initial reaction to that insight into their memories of me was – geeze, where did she go? I shared this reaction with Annie shortly afterwards, and she reminded me of something that I had said to her sometime in the past six months – that I’ve never been happier. And naturally, in that moment, I had to stop and try to reconcile the two. I remembered saying it to Annie, and I remembered meaning it, but certainly nobody these days gets annoyed at me for apparently being too happy on a very regular basis. What was the deal here, God?
By the time I’d reached college, I had successfully matured to the point of not using my blog to foolishly document either my raw, unchecked anger, or my countless moments of empty, purposeless boredom. I look at my posts from [about] November 2009 on, and regardless of how random or wordy or just straight-up poorly-written they are, there’s something behind 98.5% of them – joy. The simplest kind, too – the joy of living. I wasn’t blogging with any audience in mind; my blog, between November ’09 and probably up until spring last year, was simply a testimony to joy – the joy of daily, ordinary life.
It’s gotten harder to write as I’ve gotten older – I was just telling Mum this recently. Especially in the past year, every time that I’ve begun to blog anything, I’ve ended up deleting the draft, either because I decided that nobody cares to hear about the daily ordinary stuff, or because the subject matter of the post had already been tackled by all the truly great Catholic bloggers, and what was I thinking that anything I would have to say on the subject would be at all original?
I don’t see those fears in my eighteen-to-twenty-two-year-old self. I wanted to document everything, not because I thought there was anyone in particular [aside from Mum and Mama] that would bother taking the time to read it, but because I wanted to remember – I wanted to remember that I was happy, and what had made me happy. What it all was, really, was my simple, unaffected documentation of the beautiful and singularly original life that God has given me, to fill with as much joy and purposefulness as I can, by His grace.
Now, where did that Ais go?
Shortly after graduating, I believe I lost my previously mostly-okay balance of order and spontaneity – or rather, of my sense of spontaneity within order. I’ve become overly preoccupied with my calendar – and overly dependent on it. I don’t merely input my work schedule – I input my worship schedule, my hangout schedule – for heavens’ sake! my sleeping schedule!
A year ago, my calendar had my class schedule and precious little else. Daily Mass was a given – not something that I necessarily ever planned to have enough sleep for. Of course there’s a prudence to taking enough time to plan big things that require or desire the presence of many persons. But what truly made my final year-and-a-half of college so beautiful was the spontaneity – within the order. I’ve looked back many times recently and remembered that we used to go to Highland and the St. Clair almost weekly – but what I’ve been forgetting to remember is that those weekly excursions weren’t discussed or planned. If, after SFL meetings, people decided that they needed a break from homework and a night out with friends, we’d hit the Highland. And if anyone was down for an extended period of comfortable inebriation after Wednesday night wine class, we’d run over to the St. Clair. There was no thought of making it a regular sort of thing; it just ended up that way. I’ve also been remembering the very large amount of time that I used to spend at the old Domus Damascus – and I’ve been forgetting to remember that half the fun was the randomness of it. Marty and Andrew used to tease that the texts would go, “Anyone home? Can I come over?” “Sure.” “Okay, thanks; I’m here.” Or, “Hey, Kuya, have you had lunch?” “Nope; I just woke up.” “Okay, I’m bringing Wich Which.”
I was recently lamenting to Mother that I never have time to read anymore, because reading is the sort of thing that I start and then get lost in and then half the day would be gone. And her reply was, “Well. Sometimes it just happens. Let it.” Well, she’s right.
When I told Annie that I’ve never been happier, I did mean it. In this past year, the times that I’ve been truly happy, I’ve felt it more and more keenly. True happiness has steadily become more and more overwhelming in my awareness of its beauty, and my wonder at the moments from which it springs. I thank God for this grace.
But similar to how words can become a barrier to heartfelt trust and authentic communication, my ability to be truly joyful on a more regular basis has seemingly diminished as I have become more aware of the need to choose it in the face of trials. Instead of growing in my openness to the simple joys of daily life, I’ve become entirely too focused on the “big” times in which I need to choose joy in a “big” way in the face of some [relatively] “big”[ger] trials. When I finally managed to more consistently give God my big-picture level of trust, the devil started messing with my day-to-day level of trust, got me obsessed down to the hour, severely damaged my capacity for spontaneity, and effectively killed my previously natural and mostly subconscious capacity for being more steadily joyful over ordinary things. Half the fun in the first girls’ night out to Chandler’s was the utter randomness of it, the need for which was prompted by tears from Josie over an unspeakably ungracious table. While girls’ nights outs were still fun the following year, the ability to be joyful in an act of spontaneity was no longer there, replaced by our desperate scramble for monthly dates that would agree with all interested parties in spite of some of the worst work schedules any of us will ever have to experience in our lives, Lord ha’ mercy.
Father snarkily [but very rightly] remarks that the comment that priests should say every Mass like it’s their first, if taken far too literally, makes for a very bad liturgy. “If everyone would just follow the rubrics…” There’s your order =) and rightly so. But to receive the Eucharist as if it were your first time every time; to recall and to enter into, once again, the wonder and awe of receiving into one’s own self the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of one’s God; there’s your spontaneity. If you did nothing but breathe between [daily] Masses, then, at the very least, you’d have roughly 17,280 new reasons to praise and thank God for the gift of Life. But do we not, in the course of 24 hours, accumulate countless other reasons for praising and thanking Him aside from simply breathing?
Recently, I texted this quote to a friend:
Most of the time, when people say “be vulnerable” they mean be honest about your weaknesses, open about your pain. That kind of vulnerability is good, but there’s an equally important kind: the vulnerability of joy. It’s a scary thing to let others see what you love. It takes guts to stand up and say, “Whoa! This is beautiful!”
Since then, I’ve spoken at least four times to other friends about the vulnerability of joy. And now, recalling my conduct of the past six months especially, I have come to the conclusion that I have been considerably less brave about being vulnerable in my joy. Makes sense, yes? Since it’s something that I’ve been encouraging in others, it’s also where I’ve been experiencing the most attacks. “Constant vigilance!” He admonishes, and I cringe; I’ve slacked quite badly, so much so that I see clearly how it has hurt others. Of course we know, conceptually, that sin is not isolated to the individual, but that it negatively affects the entire Body of Christ. For my part, I have had very little experience of really seeing that – until now. I’ve hurt family and friends alike, in my lack of vigilance.
Liette continually reminds us in Women’s Group that when we experience fear, anxiety, anger, any and all manner of negative emotion, that that negativity is the devil’s lie, and that we have to train ourselves to respond immediately to that, first by reminding ourselves that it is not from God. From there, we need to determine exactly what the lie is – and when we are able to truly root it out, then it has no more power over us.
I’m working on it.
I see that those times of keen, sharp, overwhelming happiness of which I spoke to Annie were moments of spontaneity – and I am now very much aware of how many opportunities I’ve missed, in my extreme selfishness.
This has indeed been a blessed Lent. The hardest, for sure – the worst, because I realize that what made it so hard was my own refusal to respond to God’s grace. But Mama Mary worked very hard on me, and on the 25th – the Feast of the Annunciation, the Fall of Sauron, the 7-year Anniversary of my Consecration, the first of the New Year on the old calendar – she put forth some humungous effort and pulled me through. This past week-and-a-half has been everything but miserable – and I do mean everything, from happy to sad to angry to terrifying and who knows what. (Well – He does.) It was pervaded by clarity – clarity, in seeing the true roots of my fear, the true cause of my anger, the thinness of my sadness, and the overwhelming potential for joy.
As Mama has reminded me seventy-times-seven times, and then some, in the past ten hours, may awa ang Diyos.