|Painting by Alfred Elmore|
Recently I have been meditating on my Carmelite vocation as my interview for my Definitive Promise draws near. I was trying to see how far back I could go to see when this all started. I believe that I have had a contemplative nature ever since I was a very young girl. I can remember sitting in my closet and closing the door just so I could be alone, think and pray. My childhood and family life was very dysfunctional, although I know that my parents did the best that they could, they had too many issues to be 'normal 'parents, so my two older sisters took the place of my parents a lot.
Once when I was 8 years old, I had my first intimate spiritual experience. Jesus appeared to me and held my little face in His hands and said to me, "You are special because you are Mine." To this day, I remember it like it just happened! Maybe it was then that I learned to go deep within to be with the one who loved me. My family was NOT religious at all, although we attended catholic school. I loved going to Mass with my friend and her parents and I LOVED my 4th grade teacher, Sister Anne Regina! (my Carmelite devotional name is Therese Regina of the Pieta, for our Blessed Mother and my teacher.)
I made a little altar on my dresser and one time, (I just remembered this and I have to laugh now when I think of it!) I tried to make my bedroom windows look like stained glass! The way I accomplished this, though was NOT appreciated by my father! We lived in the city, four houses away from a Kodak plant....so, LOTS of people would ride a bus to my street and get dropped off a few blocks away and then proceed to walk to Kodak, passing our house. Well, I thought it would be a wonderful and very clever idea to walk down the street where there was a bar and climb into their dumpster to find about a dozen different shaped whiskey, vodka, rum....(you name it), bottles...and peel off all the labels and fill them with different colors using food coloring and did just that! I had two big windows that faced the front of the house and lined my creative bottles on the window sills! I thought it looked beautiful with the sun streaming in and catching the different colors! My father, however did NOT agree and made me take them all down....so, that was the last of my stained glass windows and I was crushed! Ha!
Okay, back to my point...I once read a letter that Saint Therese wrote to her sister Celine, something on the lines of our lives being a very short span between two eternities....one being before our births and then one after we die. So, while reflecting on this I was thinking that since God was the one to 'knit me' in my mother's womb, and He knows everything there is to know about me, and knew that my childhood was less than ideal, so He also KNEW that I would flourish in Carmel and planted a seed while knitting me! Maybe he said to His beautiful mother, "I know this one, she would be perfect for your little garden, Mother!" (after all, Carmel means 'garden'). So, He put that little seed inside me and waited for me to find it deep within.
About a week ago, someone (a non Catholic) asked me what a Carmelite vocation was. It's difficult enough to explain to a CATHOLIC, but to try to explain it to someone in my Amish and Mennonite community is REALLY difficult!
A Carmelite is constantly seeking the face of God, it's being aware of His gaze throughout the day...it's searching and finding Him deep within...it's surrendering myself to Him...it's silence....solitude....desiring to love Him for all those who DO NOT love Him...it's hiding in His Immaculate Heart so I don't have to leave Him....it's leaving a little piece of my soul every week at adoration, hoping He will take it and expand it so I can love Him even more and then retrieving it the next week, only to feel that I need to leave it, AGAIN ...it's looking at others and seeing HIM... it's desiring to do HIS Will and not my own. It means standing with His mother under the cross and comforting the wounds in both His AND her heart....KNOWING that it was ME...and MY sins that put them there! It's embracing my own crosses! Being a Carmelite is walking with St. Therese and learning her 'Little Way'....it's Dark Nights that lead to my sanctification. It means TRYING and longing to detach from everything and everyone that doesn't lead me to HIM...it's the constant desire to prove my love for Him! It's all this and so much MORE!