by Greg Hermann
“Tremendously involved with people and projects, constantly on the go, Teresa still found time to make prayer a priority. ….... Her financial worries, business deals, and personnel problems certainly challenged her life of prayer, but never spoiled it.”
Tessa Bielecki as quoted by Fr. Richard Rohr
Tessa Bielecki is writing about Teresa of Avila. It sounds to me as though Teresa of Avila was an early example of who we know as Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Both of these women lived lives of painful service believing that they never did enough for the people of God, the people on the outer edges of society. They each developed their own communities of service and worked themselves to exhaustion, but never tired of the work. Yet, prayer was their priority.
Tessa Bielecki also noted: “Contemplation and mysticism....both mean loving experiential awareness of God: not ideas in the head or on the lips, but personal living experience.”
Writings of people like Teresa and Theresa often include reference to spousal love.
LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND
AND HEART AND SOUL AND BODY.
Again, I shrink in comparison to people who embody this vision. How about you?
OK. Let's stop for a moment. Let's stop comparing our selves to others.
I am not Teresa, or Theresa, or Francis, or anyone other than me.
Yes, I am married. I believe that Ann and I are growing in spousal love. Yet, there is no requirement of marriage to offer us spousal love. I have met many who are in relationships that are agonizing and distant. Yet, one may be devoted to a spousal service that exemplifies that same commitment, grace, pain and joy of being in service to the purpose of a Higher Power. I cannot judge, but I can certainly observe and be the recipient of their blessings, scars and all.
Who is the object of your service and love? Often there are more than one.
What is the challenge to your life of prayer, your relationship to your Higher Power? How do we meet that challenge?
I believe these are the characteristics of our willingness to engage in the selfless commitment to a relationship with our Higher Power. Notice! There is no mention of perfect attendance, daily success, or sainted compliments. Each is a committed effort or intent. Each results in the mysterious experience of growing strength and commitment. Each leaves us surprised and exhausted and more deeply in love. In the boat, we observe that we are the experience of God, our Higher Power.
We continue to be blessed as we meet other in our daily connections. Sometimes helping each other walk our path. Sometimes we are patching each others blistered hands and breaking hearts, massaging each others aches and pains, and sharing the joys of the fruits of our efforts. All the results of our efforts to pray and engage our Higher Power – not perfection but effort.
Yes, we are in the throws of spousal love: the mystery, the energy and exhaustion, and the grace.