If you have never read the Book of Sirach, this is a good moment to begin. Notice the uplift in your heart and mind as you ponder these sentences of wisdom:
My son/daughter, when you come to serve the LORD,
stand in justice and fear,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
incline your ear and receive the word of understanding,
undisturbed in time of adversity.
Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Accept whatever befalls you,
when sorrowful, be steadfast,
and in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold and silver are tested,
and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way;
keep his fear and grow old therein.
You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,
turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the LORD, love him,
and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand;
has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the LORD;
he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble
and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.
- – Sirach 2. 1 – 11
One word spoke to me: Cling.
Think of the kind of love that a mother has for her infant who is being taken away. Mother clings to baby. And infant clings to mother.
Think of the kind of intention and will a climber has for life, clinging to a handhold high upon the vertical rock. Clinging to and for life.
Think of the embrace of a family huddled together as a tornado roars over their house. Clinging to each other for courage.
Feel the hunger, intensity of desire and focus of will. That is clinging. The essence of the idea is taking refuge for the purpose of flourishing: Burrowing into the silence of God. Disappearing into the empty space of divine love. Sinking into the sea of light and darkness that shelters us in the soul of our utmostness; raised again and again into new hope, new faith, new life, new love.
In time, we often unexpectedly discover a mystery. We awake to the unitive reality that we are clung to by God’s breath with a bond of being that transcends our seeing. We are held even when we do not hold. We are breathed, even when we do not breathe. We are loved, even when we do not love. We are lived, even when we do not live.
Our devotional love for God, and life of faith, our consent to be searched and known by God often leads us to discover that all our fragments of self and all the debris of our lifetime are bound into God in Christ, like deep roots grown into and with the wet, dark earth.
Cling and grow. Or, in the words of the Christ, “Abide with me as I abide with you.”
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