Monday, July 28, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven

" Jesus said to His disciples, ' The kingdom of  Heaven is like a net thrown in the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full, they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad, they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw [the wicked] into the fiery furnace.' "  -- [Matthew 13: 44-52.]

There is an old expression, "Separating the wheat from the chaff."  This saying goes back to Matthew 13: 24-43, when Jesus offers the parable of the wheat sower. The sower tells his workers to let the weeds grow along with the wheat; otherwise, at the early stages, they might pull out the good with the bad. At harvest time, the weeds should be collected for burning, but the wheat will be harvested.

It is a very popular past-time these days, to judge others immediately, in the moment. Most of the nightly news depends upon dire warnings regarding the "chaff" of our society. Celebrity magazines and websites deliver gossip about the mis-doings of famous people.

We desire to play God, pronouncing others' end-of-time sentences. We loudly proclaim, ' THIS one is certainly not going to a Good Place, because of this-or-that one criminal act, alone.'  As if we could ever know how their lives would play out until the end?

A pastor once said to me that we Christians ought not judge others' misdeeds. We ought to be horrified at sentences like the death penalty, because that type of Final Solution permanently preempts any future possibility of redemption. For that reason, as well, we must never sentence the pre-born to death, for who knows what sort of impact that baby could have over its entire lifetime?

I can think of more than a few examples like that. Perhaps you have heard of the story of John Newton, an Englishman who served in the Royal Navy, and following that, became a slave trader.  During a violent storm at sea, he cried out to God to save him. This was his dramatic Conversion. He later became an ordained minister; and thereafter, he wrote the beloved Hymn, 'Amazing Grace'.

I don't know how you feel, but I would want God to grant me every chance in life to become a better, more loving and peaceful person. I would not want Him to cut me down at the knees for my youthful mistakes. I would want God to be patient, as I fall down and pick myself up, over and over again, as I walk in my spiritual journey towards my ultimate goal of The Kingdom of Heaven.

I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, in my spiritual walk. . . .

I grew up in a family with no Faith. They did give me the amazing gift of making sure that I was baptized and that I received my First Communion. But as soon as I was Confirmed in the church, we stopped going to church. My faith life was put on hold.

I struggled mightily with my Faith in my teens. I made  the youthful mistake of being tempted by my parents' anti-Christian rhetoric. I started to think, 'Perhaps, there is no God.'

After I left home, I tried to bargain with God. I said, "Well, I have no proof there IS a God."  I even took to saying to friends, "When you are young like I am, everything goes pretty well, so I don't NEED God."

But, as a result of the harsh upbringing I underwent as a child, I was in fact carrying with me everywhere, a dark fear and a deep angst. It did not occur to me that these traumatic effects were wounds that God could heal. I was considering only human consolation; and so far, all the humans in my life had failed me.

These rejections of God came more from fear and ignorance, than from lack of Faith. But I was too afraid of my family's retribution, if I were to openly display any interest in God.

When I went away to university, I was too timid to reach out to others.  Most of the time, I was all too aware of how frail and incapable I was of healing myself. So, like many teens, I sometimes tried alcohol, as a means of consolation. But all I ended up with the next day was a headache, and the same problems.

Then, I decided that the key to everything was to earn all A's in school, so I could graduate, earn the most money and become independent of anyone trying to control me or abuse me. So, here I was, back to the same place again, saying that I did not need God, and that the only one I could rely on was myself.

You can see all the mistakes that I made-- lured by lies about Christians, half-believing that there was no God, bargaining with God, trying to self-soothe with temporary fixes, relying solely on myself but
remaining filled with fear and anxiety.

I was an incomplete Christian.  I would not have wanted God to judge me, or say that I would never amount to anything, or label me "Bad", or throw me in the fire. Even after all the many stages I had traversed, the lure of lies, the half-truths, the temporary fixes, etc. -- I was still only in my twenties.

Besides, I needed rescuing, not judging. I was young, foolish, desperate, unloved, in despair.

And, God did rescue me! He answered my calls when I was in life and death situations. He sent my husband to my side, who is Catholic and who has always believed so much in my potential. He gave me a son to love and to raise in His name.

The fact is, even though I was seldom aware of it at first, God was dealing with me all along, sending wise and loving Christians into my path, sending right impulses and desires to know Him better.

I started my journey towards God with baby steps. I started attending church with my husband. I was given a Bible by a dear friend. I started looking things up in Scripture. I was brave enough to join a knitting group at my church.

I spoke to my pastor who advised me to talk to God, as if He were my best friend-- because He IS. Then, I took a bolder step and joined a Bible Study Group.

I had been the timid child who stopped speaking at age ten, because I no longer believed in the Love of humanity. But in these encouraging groups, I started speaking again. I attended Bible groups, and meetings at my church, and a women's prayer group.

Then, I began writing my blog. In this space, I am speaking to the world! This is truly a miracle I never thought possible.

I have learned never to judge anyone too early. I thank God, that He waited for me so patiently, for so very many decades.

 We are all in a different place in our own spiritual journey. We all need time for God to deal with us in His own way, in His own time. We deserve as long as God gives us, to find our spiritual Redemption, before our final days.

Give yourself some time. Give others enough time. We all struggle with our Faith, but with God's Grace, and an open heart, we all have the seeds to grow in Faith.

[Related Posting: "The Bountiful Seed", July 14, 2014; "Solemnity of Peter and Paul", June 30, 2014].

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Generous Of Heart

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." --[Romans 8:26-27].

Ah, the beautiful but seemingly inscrutable writings of Saint Paul! I always love the mystery of his writings, but his complexity assumes so much foreknowledge. Then, I am lost.

But I AM buoyed by the first statement, that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness." The Holy Spirit is not a one-way path for US to reach God. The Spirit in turn prays FOR us, even when we are so upside- down and overwhelmed, that we cannot articulate anything at all.

I have been there, my friends, at a time in my life when I knew, in my heart, that something was awfully wrong, but when I could not, for the life of me, figure out why my life was so deeply dark and dizzying.

As I raced through my days, I was all too aware that my father had died abruptly. HE was supposed to be the healthy one, caring for my frail and seriously ill mother. But he was the one who had awoken one morning, drunk a cup of coffee and collapsed on the floor. He was gone before the ambulance even came.

I became the one to take on the care of my mother. As the only daughter, the youngest one--even in modern America-- that was my responsibility.

Dutifully, I cleared out her house, and moved her near me, into a senior home. My heart became a deep hole, blacker and blacker. I fell into despair.

My own health began to fail. My doctors were asking me, aside from the obvious health diagnoses, what was REALLY going on?

I took to long periods of reflection and meditation. Finally,  it all slowly came back to me. Many decades before, I was in a life and death situation,  living far from home. I was shattered by this traumatic experience, but my mother had coldly told me that she would not allow me to come home. She had abandoned me at my worst hours.

Now, similarly abandoned from the sudden death of my father, my mother required that I take care of HER.

My heart fantasized about how it would be if I had had another sister to take my mother on. But that was a tempting fiction.

My heart fantasized that my brother or my uncle or some far-away relatives would suddenly swoop in and care for my mother. This was equally a fantasy.

Neither of these scenarios was realistic. Nor were they God's Will. This is the meaning of "The Spirit intercedes in accordance with GOD's WILL." The Spirit does not automatically follow your own wishes.

I would have prayed, but I did not even know what to pray FOR. If I had prayed, "God let me walk away from this dreadful responsibility", then ultimately, would I not have been praying that I could stick her in a nursing home with impunity, and quickly forget about her?

My mother had figuratively kicked me when I was down. Now, I could not do this same thing to HER. I realized that when you are the only one person available for a task, then, whether you like it or not, you have been Called.

Each day, as I drove to pick her up from the senior home, I was groaning to myself, 'Do I really have anywhere near enough strength for this?'  I did not know it at the time, but I was really asking "the Spirit himself [to] intercede for [me] with groans that words cannot express."

Gradually, I began to feel a Wall of Protection around me when in her presence. Where I had previously felt aghast that I had been asked to care for such a cold, rejecting mother; I came to see that finally, I was gaining the closeness that I had always wanted, with my own mother. I like to think that I was learning to lean more strongly on God, too.

When I had been taking care of my mother for over a year, I felt inexpressible weakness and exhaustion. One day, on the way to her place, I asked No One in particular, "How long can I keep doing this? How long will my own health hold out?"

I was becoming impatient with my mother over small things, such as her increasing confusion and forgetfulness. I was ashamed at myself. I went to talk to my pastor. He told me about the Benedictine pathway of life. In other words, while we may make mistakes and stumble, we do get up again. Overall, if we are ever- rising in our faith and Devotions, we show our pure intentions before God. For, God knows the generosity of our Spirit.

I think that this must be the meaning of "He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit." At times, I would snap at my mother, but God knew my heart. Through the Spirit, God knew the generous and loving arc of my determination to care for my mother in her final days.

Finally, one day in mid-winter, my mother went to bed and never woke up. She was gone.

Part of me was horrified. Had I, in my prayer over my waning strength, hastened her demise? Had I really been praying, "Do something about her, God, I don't think I can keep going on like this?'

But no, it had been the SPIRIT who had heard my inexpressible groanings, and who had interpreted them in accordance with God's Will.

It was God's timing, that the season had come for my mother to pass on. It was time for me to let her go, as well.

If I had been able to literally hear what the Spirit had responded to me, I might have heard, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Lord, no matter what I pray for, and even if I cannot pray it in words, you know my generous heart.  You measure out the seasons of my life, and you understand that in my weakness, Your Spirit makes me strong.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Bountiful Seed

"Jesus spoke in parables at length: 'A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came up and ate it. Some fell on the rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.'

' The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on the rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once for joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold.' ". ---[Matthew 13: 1-23.]

My great-grandmother on the maternal side came to the New World through Ellis Island. They had two sons and a daughter. That daughter was my grandmother.

Then, tragically, my great- grandfather died at a young age. The sons became the bread winners, who went to work to support the family. My grandmother had to quit school in 8th grade, to stay home to help her mother.

The family struggled. My grandmother was married at home, wearing her brown Sunday dress, and carrying a bouquet of goldenrod picked from her yard. Her brothers gave her away, to her groom.

My grandparents had a daughter, born during the Depression. That daughter was my mother.

My great- grandmother, "Ma", had come to live with my grandparents after they married. Ma read the Bible every day; she began with Genesis. When she ended with Revelation, then she started all over again with Genesis.

As a young girl, my mother would tell her daily troubles to Ma. Every day, Ma would tell her things like, "Have faith." Ma was someone whose seeds were sown on rich soil. She reaped a harvest of peace and faith, amidst a life of sorrow and trial.

And yet, my mother was like the one whose seed is sown among thorns. When my parents married, their goal in life was to make an earthly fortune. The object of their worship was "The Almighty Dollar." Sadly, this pursuit became more vital to my mother than sowing her seeds of faith. She HAD received those seeds from her own grandmother, but, "out of worldly anxiety and the lure of riches",  the seeds of Faith became choked in weeds and bore no fruit.

My father was raised by a Catholic woman. Her every act was one of love and generosity to others. She knitted for the orphanage, so that every child would have a gift at Christmas. She brought food to villagers who were starving. She read the Word and attended church each Sunday.

But my father was like the one who whose seed is sown on the path. He heard the Word from his own mother, but he did not understand it. Once, when I was an adult and a relative on my husband's side had died, my father said to me, 'At least you have your Faith'. But his eyes were empty and I could tell that this phrase had no meaning to him.

And so the Evil One came and stole away what was sown in his heart. Over the years, my father became cold, heartless, angry and abusive.  He had received the seeds, but not understanding them, he lost them to "the thief who comes in the night to steal and kill and destroy."--- [John 10:10].

Out of my parents marriage came-- Me. You would hardly think that out of such a Faith-less marriage, that I could ever reap a harvest of Faith. And yet, I did.

It was a struggle to have Faith and yet, to be raised by parents who saw only money, and not God. I felt like a fish out of water.

I used to agonize over WHY my parents had rejected God so resoundingly? I wanted to turn the clock back, and let them listen to the Word that they had received, all over again. Maybe, if given another chance, they would choose differently.

As an adult, I used to visit my pastor and endlessly "confess" my parents' sins, as if I could somehow seek Reconciliation FOR them.  The pastor told me with a sad look, "It does not work that way."

After they had both died, I used to be haunted about where they were, and about how merciful God was to them. But, as a child, I would never-- could never-- be responsible for their Souls.

You see, God generously sows His Word, His seeds. We need to do the work to understand the Word, or the seed will be stolen out of our hearts by the Evil one. We need to ensure that "worldly anxiety and the lure of riches" do not choke out the seed, like destructive weeds. We need to make our Faith deep and sustaining, so that when tribulations come, our Faith is still firmly rooted there.

I watched my parents struggle and flail with their Faith gardens. Somehow, I knew that their way was not "The Way."

And so, I have sown and nurtured my own Faith Seeds, in rich soil. I have received a Bountiful Seed. I work hard to study the Word, to understand it, to make God's Word a deep and lasting root within myself.

My Faith flourishes and blossoms throughout all seasons. I am reaping my Faith- fruit, manyfold.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Christian Family

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them to your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up." [Deuteronomy 11: 18-19].

It has never been easy being a Christian. Misunderstandings and persecution go all the way back to the earliest times of the Church.

Jesus Himself said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." [John 15:18].

We need to teach our children who we are as a Faith community And, the more that Christians insulate themselves from the world, the less they are understood. I find myself wishing to battle some misperceptions of Christianity -- with the Truth.

I did not grow up in a family of believers. We were "nominally" Christian-- that is, we attended church only until I had received my First Communion, and my Confirmation in the church. Then, we quit church. I was told, "We already did that."

Christian families attend church regularly. They do not consider it a childhood rite of passage, to be outgrown.

Maybe we quit church so abruptly, because my grandmother had died; and she had been the one to keep a wary eye on us as a family. My grandmother was the one who taught me to kneel at the side of my bed and pray The Our Father each night. But she prompted me to pray only when my mother was not around. This led me to believe that prayer was something done in secret,maybe even shameful.

Christian families pray openly and pray often.

If I came home from Sunday School when I was a young child, and I wanted to talk about God, I was met with rolling eyes and uncomfortable shifting of limbs and a hasty change of the subject.

Christian families talk openly about God and TO God, as if He is another member of the family -- because He IS.

Around the dinner table, I heard constant negative talk- 'Oh, the taxes are too high, the rain  was going to ruin the day tomorrow,  the neighbor was only friendly because he was being nosy, etc.'  I heard no talk about what was good about life.

Christian families are grateful always, for what they DO have. The blessings in ordinary things, such as food, a place to live,  a steady income -- are extraordinary.

Around the dinner table, I heard talk of bearing grudges--- ' This one offended me, that one is totally wrong about something; how can I ever speak to them again? ' Out of simple disagreements came rejection and permanent ostracism.

Christian families believe in human error, followed by loving forgiveness. They understand that jealousy, grudges, judgment and hate can damage and destroy us from within.

My family would say that Faith was only for losers, who could not handle life by the power of their own wits. My family talked endlessly about idolizing human achievements. My mother would say, 'Around here, we worship The Almighty Dollar.' She talked endlessly about this one with fabulous wealth, that one with an incomparably huge mansion or yacht, that one with a chairman title.

I began to worry, if I DID believe in God, did that make me a loser? But that notion did not make any sense. Couldn't I do my very best and still rely on God?

One day, I decided that whenever I heard my mother say to worship "The Almighty Dollar", I would whisper to myself, 'You mean, Almighty God.'

My father would chime in and talk about "those people" who were incapable of success. He would say, 'Why should I help THEM?!" He told me to always take care of myself first. Once, I said something about caring about other people. He turned to me, shocked, and said, 'You CARE about other people?!'

Christian families care deeply about others, our Christian brothers and sisters. We care about those who are not Christian. We care about those with no religion at all.

My parents bought fully into the American notion that we can all accomplish great things if we just try harder and work more. There was no sense that God has a plan for us, or that He even entered the equation at all. In fact, my parents believed that my gifts and my life plan were what they told me these would be. And if I could not execute, flawlessly, their plan for me, I was a failure.

Christian families believe that God has a plan for all of us. We believe that everyone has innate gifts that come from God. No human being on earth can dictate our gifts or impose their plans on us. Someone else's pre-conceived plans will not work, if God is not guiding each and every step.

My family did not "believe" in saying 'I love you', or hugging or holding me.  Once I could walk on my own at age 12 months, I was on my own. If I fell down, even at age three, my mother would say, "Get up. Stop crying. You are not hurt."

Christian families believe in unconditional Love. They console, they encourage, they soothe the hurts-- because God is Love, and God is in all of us.

When I turned thirteen, my mother and my grandmother told me that my mother had almost died in childbirth with me, and that I had almost died before I was even born. Suddenly, I understood that my life is a sacred gift.  I wanted to ask my family to take me to the priest, so I could ask him what I should do with my life, this life that I might never have had. I did not dare ask, though. They would have scoffed at me. They told me, 'Don't worry about that. Just enjoy your life.'

Christian families believe in the sanctity of life. We believe that all life is sacred, from the time before birth, in the womb, up until the final moment of death.

I learned these Christian lessons the hard way. In battle with my family's teachings,  I learned to be a Christian on my own. It was a rough road.

I pray that you teach your children these lessons "when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

If you teach your children these things, they will not fear what is wrong with them when they desire to believe in Someone so much greater than themselves. They will know the Truth and they will rest easy in Jesus' arms.

For Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. . . for my yoke is easy and my burden light."

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Wise Child

" At that time, Jesus exclaimed: 'I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the little ones.' " [Matthew 11: 25-30].

A former pastor at my church used to say that God is the Master of Irony. You know- -- "The meek shall inherit the earth."  "The last shall be first."

In Matthew 11, Jesus says that although Truths are hidden from the wise and learned, these Truths are revealed to the little ones.

And so, ironically, it is the little children who are wise.  In fact, in Matthew 18, we find another reference to the child : "I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven."

The most miraculous thing about a tiny child is that she has an innate desire for Love. I do not believe that this is accidental. God IS Love and at birth, He puts the desire for Love in our hearts.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The desire for God is written upon the human heart." Simply put, the desire for God IS the desire for Love. And the desire for Love IS the desire for God, for God's Love is everlasting, unconditional and life-sustaining.

This is not some sweet inanity to be embroidered on a pillow or a cross stitch sampler. The desire for Love, in God and through God, is vital for our very survival.

Imagine if a child were designed to naturally gravitate towards harshness and cruelty. She would not survive for very long, would she?

If the child sees adults -- even her parents --  emanating cruelty, the child naturally shrinks away. She fears her parents. Out of distrust, she perhaps refuses food from them. She stays alert, even at night. She does not babble or verbalize or talk. She neither smiles nor cries. She shuts down.

That was me, as a child. I could not subsist in that airless, Loveless environment. I became like a ghostly phantom, noiselessly slipping away..

And yet, in our society, the adults have that mantle of authority, that presumed wisdom that comes from being grown-ups, from being Mom and Dad. Adults are considered to be the responsible ones. Adults are in charge. Adults are presumed to be the wise ones. Oh, adults have all the rules, all the judgments.

After awhile, though, a child in cruel circumstances begins to wonder. That life-giving and life-sustaining Love, so desperately desired,  becomes the benchmark. Anything else that falls short, is suspect.

Many times as a child, I heard my parents making racist remarks about every ethnic group, other than our ow. I knew that was not Love. In my heart, I knew they were wrong.

Not having my needs met; hearing their hate filled rants, I began to spend almost all of my time alone. It must have been in my alone-ness, in the silence, that I truly found God. He is more visible, when we strip away the noise of the secular world.

It is difficult to explain how I knew that God was there. A woman I know said to me, "Racism is a learned behavior. It is a miracle that you did not become hateful, like them."  Choking back tears, I said to her, "A child does not want Hate. She longs for Love."

I can only resort to metaphor or parable to explain how, as a mere child, I recognized the Truth of God, in that environment----

Imagine that you are out walking your little dog. Your normally loyal, obedient dog suddenly starts barking and pacing, tugging at the leash. You scold her and try to get her to heel. She is acting out "for no reason." After all, you see and hear nothing at all.

Finally, you humor her, and let her lead you on her leash. She races round to the back of the tree. Almost camouflaged on the gray bark is a gray squirrel. Your lowly dog knew what was there. You, however, were mired in your Rules about a proper walk, with a well-behaved dog. You relied only on what you could see.

You lacked imagination. Your dog trusted that Something was there, even if not visible or audible.

A child, longing for Love, not bound by what is entirely visible, possessing a vivid imagination about what is possible, innocently expecting a better, more Loving world -- that child can see God, whereas often the learned adult cannot.

That child can require and DEMAND God's presence, in a world where adults have made God irrelevant; or in a world where adults lack the imagination or the conviction to even admit a Loving God.

To find God:   Imagine. Trust in the Sublime necessity for Love. Know in your heart, even if you cannot see with your eyes. Take nothing for granted. Be in awe. Believe. Be like an innocent, wise child.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Power of Music

" Saul's attendants said to him, 'Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.'  David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul [said], ' I am pleased with him.' Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. The relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.' " --[ 1 Samuel 16:17-23].

The power of music to heal is an ancient and sacred practice. This healing power goes all the way back to the Old Testament.

When David, a young sheep herder, is anointed as Samuel's successor, one of his many appealing qualities is the power to soothe others with his harp. Again, and again, David is called upon to bring down the evil spirits that haunt Saul, with the healing power of music.

 I believe that we ALL possess an innate need for music. . . .

Time and again, in my cruel and harsh childhood, I turned to music as a healing salve to my very real wounds.

I went to bed hungry many nights a week. At age five, I was already determinedly finding food during the day, to make up for those lost meals at night. I was putting myself down for naps. I was hiding in the big forsythia bush in the yard, to keep myself safe. As a teen, I was stowing overnight supplies at a friend's house, -- "just in case."

Then, there were the traumas. The black eyes. The years of verbal abuse (I was told that I was too sensitive). The fire in my grandparents' home. The near drowning in a neighbor's pool. The assault that I suffered as a young adult, when I came within a minute of dying. And yet, incomprehensibly,  when I called, asking to go home, I was told that I was a failure.

I had stopped speaking at age ten. This was not a matter of the speech mechanism in the brain being too close to the seat of trauma. There was nothing wrong with my vocal chords. This was a conscious decision, to withdraw from the world.

O, but the music was always there! I listened to music for hours in my room. I was not speaking, but I SANG! I sang walking to school in the rain. I sang in the bath, I sang in the car.

Today, I find that music still has that power to give me hope, to remind me that in this ugly world, there is incomparable beauty.

Today, I use music to open myself up to feeling again. In immersing myself in music, I can cry again, I can feel exhilarated, I can find Joy.

These days, I am listening to a beautiful new CD called Eventide, from the group known as VOCES 8. Their music is ethereal, hauntingly beautiful. It is difficult to believe that mere human voices could generate sounds so heavenly. If I am fortunate enough to go to Heaven one day, I am convinced that this is what Heaven will sound like.

What I admire even more about this group, VOCES 8, is that they are fully aware of the healing power of  music, and they use it to help others. VOCES 8 travels about 1 million miles per year. They bring their music to parts of the globe that are ravaged by war or natural disasters, such as to Japan, immediately after the 20121 tsunami.

By the power of music, the footprints of evil depart from me. A healing force washes over me in every crescendo. The pain is gone. I am whole again.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2014. All Rights Reserved.