A blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary to all.
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In this great fiat of the little girl Mary, the strength and foundation of our life of contemplation is grounded, for it means absolute trust in God, trust which will not set us free from suffering but will set us free from anxiety, hesitation, and above all from the fear of suffering. Trust which makes us willing to be what God wants us to be, however great or however little that may prove. Trust which accepts God as illimitable Love. ― Caryll Houselander
A 92 year woman I know here in New Orleans spoke to me about the loneliness of old age with me last week. I have come to know her well. She is effectively estranged from most of her six children. Such a tragic story. I had asked her that particular day what was hardest about her life now. She said,
The time you have to think about the past is hard. Very hard. Regrets. My children [tears] … But, let me tell you, when you get old you realize what matters and what doesn’t matter. You get perspective. Things you thought were so important, aren’t. What matters is love. If you could go back, take words back, you’d do it all differently. But there’s no going back. That’s always there.
I just sit and look at [the image on her wall of] Jesus and tell Him things. He’s such a good listener. His face always tells me, “Give me everything.” Such a kind face. [smile, tears] The best part of getting old is that you can just let go, because what’s left? [laugh] It’s like He just gently pries everything out of your hands and then you just realize one day, “Wow, it’s all gone!” [soft laugh] I am grateful God allowed me to stay this long. I’m not afraid of dying. He knows I’m ready any time to let go. I tell Him every day, I’m ready when you are.
Then I asked her what she would tell me, as a young man, what I should do that she wished she had done. She said,
Let go and let God. Trust Him. And love as much as you can. Take lots of time to love. You’ll never regret loving. Never. Only not. Especially your children. When you think back on your life, you’ll say, “Every time I took to love, that’s what mattered. No regrets.”
When I got home that night, among other things, I wrote,
As I listened to her, I was deeply moved by the childlike way she expressed an almost majestic inner freedom that she used to give herself over to God. In her presence, I could feel inside of me all of my clasping and clinging exposed. So much reason for bitterness in her life, yet only sweetness. But not living in fantasy; very real. And her humility is so deeply meshed ‘in her fibers,’ so totally natural and unaffected that she is without any trace of self-conscious obsession. No proving, defending, justifying, rationalizing, grasping left.
All I could think was — this is what being without sin must have meant for Mary; why Mary was able to so very naturally surrender her soul and body over to God so completely that He could take her to Himself without her having to die first. Let it be done to me! For us, proximity to death gives us opportunity to succumb to Love. Dispossession.
May my time be wasted on loving, on letting go, on just looking at Him and telling Him things. He’s such a good listener, such a kind face. His face always tells me, “Give me everything.”