PRESSURE RELIEF

I forget sometimes that I’m an alcoholic, bodily and mentally different from my fellows as we say in recovery. Not that I don’t devote what seems like a trillion hours a week to keeping myself in fit spiritual condition, but sometimes my nervous system, psyche etc just go faintly to severely haywire for an apparent reason.

Inevitably one of the first symptoms is insomnia. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep at all though exhausted and other times I fall asleep but wake at 2 or 2:30 or 3 which is just a terrible drag as I am one million percent a morning person and my circadian rhythm is hard-wired when awake in the a.m. to get up, start drinking coffee, and embark on a frenzy of activity.

ESPECIALLY when I’m exhausted as I’m afraid I’ll be too tired to “get everything done” if I pace myself and so try to do it all at once, the idea being that after I perform my zillions of household chores, administrative tasks, correspondence responding-to, research and writing, to name just a few, I will then allow myself to go back to bed. Which never but never happens.

That’s just normal times. Throw in any kind of cultural/political/religious “situation” on which I have AN OPINION and God help me. I’m like a dog with a bone, talking to myself, jotting notes, constructing an airtight argument by means of which I hope to persuade the world and God that I AM RIGHT.

Like lately, I am SO on board with awe at the Transubstantiation, reverence for the Eucharist, et cetera. I’m very much at odds, however, with the way many people propose to demonstrate that reverence. And so deeply absorbed and exercised and upset and indignant and desirous of building a case did I become that I stopped going to Mass for a few days!

Yesterday morning after about 4 hours of sleep, I was out on the patio with my prayer books thinking Oh my God, I will never never make it through this day. And suddenly I realized, Why not go to the 7 at Sts. Peter and Paul? Just as suddenly, my whole being kind of righted. I was still tired, but not tired plus depressed plus frustrated plus pissed at the world.

Right then, I opened my Magnificat to read the day’s liturgy and the accompanying reflection was by Claude La Colombière, 17th-c. Jesuit priest, and was all about the essential nature of daily Mass and of how without Communion he gets tired, crabby, mean (I’m paraphrasing) ,and how if there is ONE THING WE CAN DO, it is to partake of the Eucharist every chance we get.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Without me you can do nothing.”

Which was really, in a nutshell, my whole point to begin with–except I forgot to take my own advice.

Does that ever happen in your world–that you’re stuck or struggling or have just come to some major epiphany, and on the instant practically you come upon a passage that seems specifically, directly, written to/for you?

The weather broke last night as well. A cool, refreshing breeze blew and It actually rained a teeny bit in the Sonoran desert. I went out and walked in it and this morning–for the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist–feel cleansed.

12 Replies to “PRESSURE RELIEF”

  1. Heather, your honesty and candidness helps ease my often overactive brain.
    I have had a busy week and was considering missing Daily Mass because I simply have “too much to do!”. I heard a still, small voice inside my heart say, “Where could you possibly be that is more important than being with Jesus and with his body and blood?” I mean, I have no defense to that question- obviously. What could I say? “I really have to get to Target before it gets too crowded this morning” Lame. And if I believe Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist than I should be running to meet Him and greet Him with thanksgiving and joy! Like knocking on the church doors crying, “Let me in-Please!” Oh, how humbling it is to be human!

    Today, our Deacon John gave a beautiful message about St. John the Baptist. The take away: in order for Him (Christ) to increase in our lives, we must decrease. More of Jesus – Less of me. It’s contrary to the way of the world, and often to my own selfish agenda. *sigh*

    Peace and a cool breeze be with you today and in the days to come. And I pray you get some good sleep.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Couldn’t agree more, Laura–what task in my deeply ordinary life could possibly 1) not wait an hour and 2) be “more important” than spending half an hour with Christ and his people? I’ve always loved this quote from Dorothy Day’s Loaves and Fishes: “When I moved to the East Side, I went to a Salesian priest, Father Zossima. It was he who urged me to go to daily communion. I had thought this was only for the old or the saintly, and I told him so. “Not at all,” he said. “You go because you need food to nourish you, for your pilgrimage on this earth.”

  2. Hi Heather, wow another great article. You are reading my mind about the Eucharist and I totally relate to what I-have to “get done” and the fear of not getting enough sleep to “ get it done.” However I’m praying that the Bishops get this document on the Eucharist right. Due to years and years of substandard catechism ( myself included) I see this as a great “teaching moment” for the Church, whether or not theBishops allow Biden to receive or not) ….and believe me, a big part of me wants to say NO, just no, it isn’t ok for you to use your tongue to advocate -yes advocate- for abortion and then receive Jesus). But, did receiving Jesus unworthily in my lifetime change my heart?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Right…thank you. I’ve been thinking a lot of our modern-day martyrs–along with Christ, our true teachers: Fr. Stanley Rother, Edith Stien, Fr. Alfred Delp, Fr. Walter Ciszek, Adele Dirsyte, Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, to name just a few. I have to look at the shallowness of my own convictions: would I be so willing to “champion” the Eucharist if I stood to be tortured, imprisoned, starved, beaten, killed for it, as so many others have? The dreadful knowledge of my own cowardice reminds me of how very much I have to learn…

  3. I have to refocus on what is important, loving God and my neighbor, only way I get out of all my attitudes that need to go….The devil knows how to get me going…Love your article…Ingrid

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Right, Ingrid…I always know I’m on the wrong track when I’m feeling separate from, smarter than, more evolved, able to see more deeply, that my mission is to set everyone straight..

  4. Maureen Reed says: Reply

    Heather, you wrote an article in Magnificat that hit me that way, probably 8-9 years ago. About forgiving deep hurts, I think. Belated thanks!
    I do think that there a signs and messages all around, but blindly, most often I overlook and miss them.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Exactly, Maureen—so I tend to notice the all-too-rare times when I REALLY slow down and listen…so good to know that a reflection of mine helped several years ago…

  5. Terry Nelson says: Reply

    I too was moved by the same meditation from St. Claude. I had an understanding of it as well. I love your honesty, your candid reflections. Thank you.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Terry–I don’t know much about him, but I always respond to La Colombiere’s reflections in Magnificat…this one was especially spot-on for the day.

  6. Carol Curran says: Reply

    I can so relate to what you’re saying. I’m also a recovering alcoholic (20 years in September, please God). AA is where I first met “a loving God of my understanding” through the acceptance and validation I found in the group. I joined the Catholic church about six years ago and now belong to a group of six women we call “Soul Train”, which we formed on completion of a spiritual growth workshop. It is a group where we can share and feel safe and we even are reading a book on the 12 steps. So I now have the best of both worlds, but under the same God. I haven’t started going to daily Mass yet but keep getting more “messages” that I need to make that commitment. I remember the article by La Colombiere also and felt nudged. My sister died recently and my group requested to weekday masses for her, both in August. I hope I will get the daily “habit” then if not before. Keep writing and inspiring, Heather. Thanks so much for sharing your gifts.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Wonderful, Carol, that you’ve found your way to your “Soul Train” group…as for daily Mass, all in good time…I miss many days myself, as mentioned. It’s not some good deed thing on our parts–rather the unmerited grace to respond to an invitation…”You didn’t choose me; I chose you”…so when I do go, it’s kind of like the “effort” is all on Christ’s part…I do feel strange and interesting things happen at Mass…just little things we notice or feel. And also we go for all those who can’t go–because of sickness, disability, fatigue, other obligations, imprisonment, dire poverty, lack of priest, persecution…anyway, on we struggle and on we trudge! So glad to meet a fellow traveler. Thank you…

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