“I am sick with love.”Song of Songs 2:5
At the start of this past Lent, Our Lord made it clear to me that we were going to be spending 40 days reflecting on and working through healing my wounds. Up until then I’d been working intensely on surrendering all things to His Most Sacred Heart. So while I thought that was a weird way to spend Lent, I thought, “Okay, well, your ways are weird to me, Lord, but I trust You know what’s best.”
My wounds, of course, aren’t totally separate from His. In His wounded hands, I see the wounds I’ve sustained serving those who offer only criticism in response. In the holes of His feet, I find my aching feet after hours upon hours without an opportunity to sit down. In His wounded side I find my own sinfulness on the spear tip of the soldier’s lance. And as that tip touches His silent Heart, blood and water, Divine Mercy, pour out.
But most of the work of this past Lent was spent in silence, in stillness, in quiet acts of love, knowing that God might be the only one who ever saw or knew the love I poured into those acts. And with that came a return to my awareness that I don’t belong to this world. I belong to God, only God.
I’ve always known that to be true. I was first clearly aware of it when I was 8 years old, when I first felt the joy of a call to be totally His for all of my life. But then through trauma, I felt distanced from Him, abandoned by Him, and so I tried to abandon Him, too, for a while. Until His love called me back. But I talk more about my journey home in Stumbling Back to the Heart of God, where I first introduced myself to this community.
I felt that abandonment again, intensely, in 2020. With churches closed, I felt like I was cut off from the one place I’d finally identified as my home. During those months of no public access to Mass, I watched the Mass up until Holy Thursday, when I felt physically ill with my longing for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, to be close to Him. To comfort Him in His suffering. Since then, I haven’t been able to watch more than a few minutes of a virtual Mass without feeling that same intensity of sickness.
Lent was long and hard that year, and Easter never came. Even when churches reopened and I was once again allowed to be near Our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, allowed again to draw near His Heart, I didn’t. I kept Him at a distance. It was too painful to get so close again. What if I gave Him my heart totally, completely, absolutely… only to be cut off from Him (again) and therefore myself?
At the time all of this was happening, I didn’t acknowledge how painful it was to my heart. I didn’t realize that I was continually distancing myself from Him until about a year later, when I found I was more aware of the distance between myself and God than His Presence within me. Our relationship was marked with distrust, fear, and suspicion (of course, only on my part) where once there had been joyful, trusting surrenderL.
I spent Lent of 2021 feeling as though we’d been in Lent ever since March 2020, and that the perpetual Lent would endure forever. And when Easter came that year, my weeping was half joy, half distrust that it was real. Lent of 2022 came with a similar sense of unease, a feeling of “What if Easter doesn’t come?” But God is always faithful.
Which brings us to Lent of 2023. That wound of abandonment that as a child I was first introduced to by the absence of my father and later by the betrayal of family members I loved and trusted with my whole heart, the wound that reopened, gushing and festering in the months of church lockdowns… Jesus dealt with that wound so gently I almost didn’t know He was healing me. “Let Me adorn you,” He kept telling me throughout this season, “with the jewels of grace and virtue.”
He just wanted me to let Him love me. To open my heart to Him as I hadn’t allowed myself to do in nearly three years. To let myself long for Easter, knowing that it would come, and that an eternal Eastertide will someday follow.
It’s often difficult for me to allow people to care for me. I’d rather serve than be served. But there’s a time for anointing His feet with oil and cleaning them with my hair and tears. And there’s a time for allowing my Lord and my God, who took on flesh to save me from the powers of hell, to wash my feet.
Love heals. Love is the only thing that ever truly heals. In the past years, I’ve learned that we can’t force surrender. We can only keep trying to offer ourselves, our hearts, and with every attempt to offer ourselves more fully, more generously, God supplies more of the grace we need to eventually offer ourselves to Him completely, holding nothing back. He Who is infinite increases our capacity to carry more of His cross, and so to enter more deeply into His joy.
During Triduum, I felt so intensely loved by God and those He’s placed in my life, so beautifully reminded of the larger and smaller calls He’s placed on my life… I wish I could conclude by describing this to you, but there aren’t human words to express the reality or the totality of that love. I can’t tell you what God is doing, because I can’t see it. I only taste, with inexpressible joy, the beginnings of a return to that longing for the Eternal Wedding Feast. The Lord Our God is my Love, my Healing, my Remedy, and He is all that I desire in this life and in the life to come. I want all my wounds to be hidden and immersed in His. I want my heart to be forever bound up totally, irrevocably in His life.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”Psalm 34:8
This joy, this peace, this love… it’s only a taste of eternity. It’s only the briefest glimpse of the endless joy that awaits us. The cross isn’t the end of the story. But neither can the cross be divorced from the story of Easter. On the cross is our Hope. On the cross is our Victory. On the cross is Christ, the Truest Love who longs to heal our broken hearts.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.”Song of Songs 2:4-5
These past few years, my heart has been absolutely sickened with the ache and sorrow of separation, confusion, feelings of abandonment and loss, and the exposure of past wounds that never properly healed. Now, that same sickness that was once a wound is now a joy beyond human language, a peace beyond anything this world can give. I am sick with love.
“My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away; for behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”Song of Songs 2:10-12