Lessons in the Desert – Healing through Suffering
We have made it to the last of my desert Lenten reflections as we are now in the home stretch, and the traditional beginning of Passiontide.
The prickly pear, as pictured above, has always been a fascinating dichotomy to me. It’s both so painfully prickly looking, yet it is also good for food and medicinal purposes. The spikes immediately remind me of Christ’s crown of thorns. If we can just get past the pain part, there are healing properties within, such as in the flesh of the prickly pear.
The challenge in the spiritual life is to learn how to look at a situation and see past the superficial pains or sacrifices, in order to receive the balm of grace that normally lies hidden beneath the pain for those who persevere.
It’s the saints who seem to be most at peace, and even joyful, in the face of extreme suffering. I remember hearing a quote [I believe attributed to St (Padre) Pio] that if we knew the worth of suffering, we would beg for more. *Big Sigh* I’m no where near ready to beg yet. I’m still trying just to accept trials without complaining, but I am always trying to remind myself that there is healing past the thorns of any given situation if we just allow God in.
For this last week’s mediation with the desert prickly pear, let’s try and see if we can identify the thorns in our life as we prepare for Christ’s passion. What spiritual weakness would we much rather get rid of than learn how to deal with?
In the spirit of St Dominic’s Nine Ways of Prayer, let’s try to wear a scratchy scapular or put a pebble in our shoe to connect for ourselves some physical irritant to our spiritual weakness or particular sin. Then, each time we feel our thorns, let us join in prayer with St Paul, and place those spiritual thorns in God’s hands, inviting Him to make them be a means of healing, grace, and strength.
“Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
[2 Cor 12:7-10]