Nearly two years after first writing about discovering this mystery, one tiny corner of it has been made clear to me. The light has dawned slowly, as I've read book after book on a faith that I thought I knew, started praying new, awkward prayers, and experienced one moment of sudden, desperate longing on an ordinary Sunday morning. As the dust has begun to settle after the years of spiritual upheaval, I find myself looking around at a strange, new, beautiful landscape - one completely dominated by the Cross. And I realize that this mystery is my calling to come and die, and that it's shrouded in fog because God knows that I can't handle it all. I used to be confident in my ability to die for God, whether physically or spiritually, but that was 10 years ago; I thought that I was brave, then. Now, my very being flinches away from this call. I don't know what it means, exactly, and I don't want to. What I do know, is something of the shape of the ground in front of me.
Right in front of me, my very first step in this call to come and die, is a renewal of my determination to embrace the struggles of my vocation. And as small as they sometimes are, as easy as they might be for someone else, and as insignificant as they may look, these struggles are hard enough for me. A part of me, the whiniest, most demanding, most self-centered and fearful part of me is going to have to climb up on the cross every single day just for this patch of ground. For all I know, I might never progress further than this in this life. But the grace is there; I know that it is. I know that I have been made strong enough just for these struggles. And it's Thomas Merton, again, who is giving me the necessary kick in the pants:
"If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness is beyond our natural power to achieve (which it certainly is) then it follows that God himself must give us the light, the strength, and the courage to fulfill the task he requires of us. He will certainly give us the grace we need. If we do not become saints it is because we do not avail ourselves of his gift."
- Merton, Love and Holiness