Friday, April 17, 2015

"In my hour of darkness, in my time of need"

As I have mentioned previously, I am enjoying reading Fr Jim Martin's Jesus: A Pilgrimage as part of my morning devotions. Yesterday, I read something that resonated with me deeply. Yesterday morning I read his chapter entitled "Gerasa," about his visit to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus healed the Gerasene demoniac (see "How do I evangelize?"). The book is based on a pilgrimage (thus the subtitle) he made to the Holy Land with a friend, a fellow Jesuit priest, George.

During their visit to Gerasa, George wanted to be left alone to pray on the hillside among the tombs. After they returned, Fr Martin wrote to ask his friend what he had found so meaningful about that site. In reply, George quoted from the journal he had kept while making St Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises when he was a Jesuit novice:
Jesus invited me to look into the tombs all around me, the cemetery of bad memories that I chose to dwell in most times. And what was there? Nothing, just dust and dry bones - the fears and pains I am most afraid of are dead things. They cannot hurt me anymore. They are dead and I am alive
I realize those words won't resonate with everyone as they did with me, bringing tears to my eyes, but there you have it. Indeed, the name is "Legion."

Fr Martin followed this in his book by noting, "George did not know that he would enter a two-year period of depression that he described as the most painful time of his life. It began when he stopped using alcohol to numb his feelings." After getting through this period with the help of many people, George came to see his few years of depression as a gift, one that empowered him for ministry as a prison chaplain.

Let me say this about my own experience: it often seems to me that some people have little or no self-awareness at all. I don't mean that as a criticism, but an attempt to explain my own perception. Sometimes I am all self-awareness, which is just as bad, probably even worse, than having little or none.

In light of this, our Friday traditio is the late, great Gram Parsons' "In My Hour of Darkness," sung by an all-star ensemble:

Then there was an old man, kind and wise with age
And he read me just like a book and he never missed a page
And I loved him like my father and I loved him like my friend
And I knew his time would shortly come but I did not know just when

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