I am six weeks into a nine-month Ignatian Exercises “Adventure,” as the title of my guidebook runs.
Each week you ask for a different grace. This week I’m asking for “a grateful awareness of the many ways God calls me.”
An hour of prayer first thing in the morning I must say has been just the ticket, especially because I am now well into Week 3 of the Ground Squirrel. That’s right. The gigantic rodent, who apparently has an IQ of about 180, is still romping and frisking around beneath the foundation, digging about while I’m trying to write, scaring the crap out of me with its abhorrent scritching when I’m trying to sleep, and yesterday, tapping behind the heating grates in the dining room and living room in the most unpleasantly startling way as I was trying to do my YouTube yoga. (This could account for the fact that I literally sprained my own ankle the other day as I attempted to stretch my upper thigh).
Sometimes the thing is quiet for hours but knowing that at any given moment its loathesome subterranean scuttling will begin has done quite a number on my nerves, which are set to the highest possible frequency even when I’m “relaxed.”
Apparently he’s stored enough poison down there to kill a hippopotamus but is slyly “saving it for later.” Then there’s the trap that Mike the Exterminator baited with Nutella and a couple of Snickers bars and, I guess to give The Squirrel the illusion of privacy, draped with a bath towel. The SLIGHTEST TOUCH is supposedly enough to trip the door and slam it shut behind the Squirrel, who Mike would then transport to a faraway field and set free. (Naturally this is the end we would both prefer).
The trap sat there untouched for days. This morning I went out and found that The Squirrel had managed to REMOVE THE TOWEL, thrust it aside like a messy teenager, probably nab a candy bar or two, and leave the door wide open.
Apparently most squirrel problems are squared away within a few days. So the unfortunate upshot of the fact that my own has dragged on for so long is that I am beginning to fear that I will 1) have to live with The Horrible Ground Squirrel forever, or move; 2) even if I move, I will never ever feel safe or non-jumpy in any place I live again, ever, for the rest of my life (It’s certainly difficult to see how I could ever feel safe here). I could go on and on about the previous places I’ve lived and why I sort of felt that way already, and in fact moved to Tucson in large part to try to give myself a fighting chance in that direction.
On top of it, I’m scheduled for cataract surgery, first eye December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I know this is a highly safe and highly routine “procedure,” but still–it’s your eyes. I had to sign a consent form this morning that included a delightful clause about how the anaesthesia can have side effects, one of which is DEATH.
AND I’m going on a two-week road trip to LA and the Central Coast of California for Thanksgiving–which I’m super excited and super grateful about but again, still–you know. Travel.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but any woman who lives alone and is “older” will corroborate that a special vulnerability comes with this particular station in life.
So, back to graces, and the many ways God calls me…
Obviously, I’m being called to see that my own situation is NOTHING compared to the uncertainty, anxiety and suffering under which much of the world lives. That’s not to diminish my anxiety, but it is to reminded, and to recognize that all suffering, if we allow it to, puts us in solidarity and at the center of all the suffering in the world.
Two, my dawning awareness that I may not feel safe where I live, ever, as if this is some huge tragedy…same principle. We never really ARE safe in this valley of tears, in these mortal bodies. So maybe I’m actually being called to let go of my life-long illusion that if only I can manage well enough, everything will be okay. As in, join the human race.
Beyond that, maybe I’m even being called to prefer the precariousness, or at least to be “indifferent” as St. Ignatius puts it (we tend to use the word “detached) as to whether I feel calm or anxious, embraced or rejected, consoled or abandoned, understood or unfairly maligned. Indifferent as to whether I’m rich or poor, sick or healthy, living with a giant rodent uner my house in Tucson or maybe somewhere far far away like over an ocean, like, say, in Ireland…more on that last idea later.
As my friend Fr. Terry says: “If you’re lucky, you’ll give up all idea of ever being happy in any way you thought you were going to be.”
I am going to wander over to Sts. Peter and Paul and sit before the Blessed Sacrament for a bit. Thank you for listening!