The sufferings of the present time

And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.

I would flee to a far-off place
and make my lodging in the wilderness.

I would hasten to escape
from the stormy wind and tempest.
(Psalm 55:7-9)

The Hermit’s Song

I wish, O Son of the living God, O ancient, eternal king
For a hidden little hut in the wilderness that it may be my dwelling.

An all-grey little lake to be by its side.
A clear pool to wash away sins by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Quite near, a beautiful wood around it on every side,
To nurse many-voiced birds, hiding it with its shelter.

From A Celtic Primer, Brendan O’Malley

How often this kind of lovely picture comes to my mind — especially on days like today when I am conscious of my difficulties and frustrations.

“If only I could just escape, if only I could just get away, if only I didn’t have to face it, if only ….”

That sort of fantasizing, however, really leads nowhere. Even if I could flee to a hermit’s “little hidden hut,” it would still be me sitting inside it, stewing and agitated.

While going to a quiet place, physically apart from other people, is sometimes important, the more important separation here is called detachment.

I must learn to separate myself from the anxiety and circular worries, center myself in God’s presence, and renew my trust in his goodness.

That’s a habit of mind more than a physical location. That’s probably what Jesus meant when he talked about “going into your interior room to pray.”

When we cannot “fly away” physically, we must find a place of quiet inside and there “be at rest.”

Even Jesus himself struggled for that inner peace as Thursday night turned into Friday morning and he prayed that the trouble building around him could pass from him.

His sense of the Father’s presence gave him the confidence to face into the storm.

I wish, O Son of the living God, for a measure of that same confidence.

Collect for Wednesday in Holy Week

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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